DESCRIBED AS THE ‘FIRST LADY OF COLOUR’ AND ‘BEST TINTER ON THE PLANET’, JO HANSFORD MBE HAS RISEN TO THE TOP OF HER PROFESSION AND RUNS THE LARGEST FEMALE-OWNED INDEPENDENT SALON GROUP IN LONDON
April 2023: Jo Hansford MBE is preparing to celebrate a landmark anniversary: 30 years since the opening of her first salon in Mayfair, London.
From begging the bank for a loan to start her business to becoming the colourist of choice for the Queen, Jo Hansford has proved to those who originally dismissed her with snippy comments that hair is big business.
In 1993, when Jo Hansford first opened the doors to her Mayfair salon, all the leading names at that point were men such as Vidal Sassoon, John Frieda and Nicky Clarke and, to this day, Jo is the only woman in hairdressing who has turned her name into a business brand like her famous male counterparts.
When Jo started out, the only alternative to grey was going to the hairdressers for a blue rinse, and dyed hair was a shameful secret. As a colour expert, Jo realised that there was a unique opportunity to put hair colour at the forefront of a salon rather than hidden away in the background.
Jo Hansford MBE explains:
“I was up against it as soon as I opened my first salon given it was the middle of a recession and other industry leaders said I would be lucky to last three months. I remember them saying: ‘She’s a woman, she’ll soon be gone’. I knew the transformative effect colour had and I was determined to build a salon renowned for its expertise and I think I’ve done just that.”
The business success grew each year, survived three recessions including the crash of 2008, moving to bigger premises and Covid. Luckily, the salon has some of the highest client retention rates in the industry and, with a renewed appreciation for the professionalism of colourists and stylists, existing clients returned and new ones booked in.
A few months after the end of lockdown in November 2022, Jo Hansford opened her second salon in Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge and her swish of hairdressers and colourists – which started as a team of just eight 30 years ago – has now grown to a staff of 90.
The award-winning colourist, along with her daughter Joanna, who is MD of the Jo Hansford brand, have worked together to create luxury salons that are widely recognised as the destination in the capital for colour, cut and styling. In addition, they have also launched Jo Hansford product range to create the perfect shampoo and conditioner for coloured hair.
Clientele come from all over the world, the ones who fly in from Europe, America and Australia are affectionally called “our hair miles clients,” says Jo. Regulars include the rich and famous, members of the Royal family as well as international royals, politicians, stars from stage and screen, businesswomen and men, along with everyone in between.
Jo Hansford MBE comments:
“All our clients get the same treatment. We value each and every one of them and are always grateful that they choose to come to us. We never take them for granted – as soon as you do that standards can slip. We never ever rest on our laurels. Our clients are used to having a five star lifestyle based on quality and exceptional service, and we therefore have to constantly deliver at every touch point.”
Given the UK is globally recognised as having the sharpest stylists and colourists than its continental and transatlantic rivals, Jo and her expert team also train the next generation of hairdressers as part of L’Oréal Colour Trophy and have worked with stylists all over the world and specifically in India.
Jo sums up:
“People don’t recognise hairdressing as a serious career but it is a highly professional and skilled job and you can be incredibly successful through it.”
“We offer a life-long career and many of our staff have been with us for 20 or more years.”
“It’s fabulous to be in an industry that currently cannot be taken over by robots and we still get to use our brains and skillset. I still love my role and, to work alongside my team, there really is no better place I would rather be.”
A six star salon experience
The salon Jo set up 30 years ago is very different to the one that a Jo Hansford client will walk in to today.
At both Jo Hansford Harvey Nichols, which is located on the 4th floor of the eponymous department store, and Jo Hansford Mayfair, clients are offered an innovative and bespoke range of hair styling and colour services as well as the option to book in and see hair, beauty and specialist experts.
Joanna Hansford, MD of both salons, explains:
“We very much position ourselves as a six star salon, offering hair and beauty services in the most luxurious of surroundings, with a guarantee of them
being delivered by experts who are trained to the highest technical standards.”
“Clients coming in to the salons want to have the ultimate experience and it is wonderful to deliver this in every way we can.”
What makes Jo Hansford a six star salon?
- Swipe to book: Traditionally appointments were booked over the ‘phone in a column diary, now it is highly digitised with state-of-the-art software. Appointments can also be booked online and via WhatsApp making it even easier for clients to book in whatever time zone they are in.
- A welcoming team you would see in any top hotel: The salon has its own dedicated reception and cloakroom staff who act as a personal concierge for many clients. Want your dog walking while you have your hair done? No problem…..the team will do it.
- In-house chefs: Jo Hansford Mayfair boasts its own in-house chef who caters for clients’ culinary requests as hair gets coiffed. Jo Hansford Harvey Nichols’ clients can order cocktails and a delicious selection of food choices from the department store’s restaurants located on the Fifth Floor.
- Bespoke colour: Gone are the A4 ring binders with synthetic hair colour looped in neat rows. Now clients are offered iPads where they can view the latest trends in colouring and styling and see what options may suit them alongside their consultation.
- Vegan colour: The salon has a dedicated vegan colour specialist, offer individual services for clients from flawless highlights, beautiful balyage right through to a dramatic colour change and colour correction.
- Green Salon Collective: As part of its commitment to sustainability, Jo Hansford Harvey Nichols has teamed with with specialist recycling service Green Salon Collective to ethically dispose of salon waste. Everything from hairspray cans, colour tubes, foils and disposable towels is either recycled, reused or composted, ensuring it is kept out of landfill. Hair clippings are composted or turned in to fertiliser or used to make booms to absorb oil spills in the sea.
- Hair solutions: stylists and colourists are continually educated to advise clients and deal with personal hair problems and hair issues impacted by menopause, detox diets, thinning hair, loss of hair. The salon has its own consultant trichologist, Hugh Rushton, who has more than 40 years of experience in hair and scalp related problems. The team also work with Mandeville, Europe’s leading niche specialists in handmade European hair wigs and hairpieces, providing a solution for all types of hair loss, from alopecia, chemotherapy, thinning hair and scalp traumas.
- Extensions: a full head of hair or boost to existing hair continues to be in demand for many clients and the salon offers ethically sourced Gold Fever and London Hair Lab extensions which are premium and proven to protect hair.
- Staying connected: Access to a first class Wifi system is critical for clients. While clients still enjoy magazines and newspapers, they can work while in the chair or relax and read Jo Hansford’s blog and see latest trends online. Many bring in their own laptops and work on mobiles, and the salon helps to keep them 100 per cent charged thanks to readily available chargers.
- One-stop destination for hair and beauty: Clients are time-poor so Jo Hansford salons offer a range of services. As well as in-house manicurists, the team has a long-standing relationship with their beauty and aesthetic experts including Dee Stanford, Alicia Janiec and Emma Wedgwood, and also work with Flavia Morellato, the lymphatic drainage expert, and FacePlace, Hollywood’s trusted skincare experts responsible for keeping some of the most beautiful and famous faces glowing.
- Private rooms: For those who seek privacy or for CEOs who want to work while having their hair done, they can bring in their PA or run a work meetings in one of the private rooms at Jo Hansford Harvey Nichols. For those who want the ultimate bespoke experience or pampering from head to toe, the salon’s private rooms can be booked out for the whole day.
- Reaching a global audience: The salon has never advertised, preferring word-of-mouth and PR. Jo Hansford explains: “It’s the one thing I invested in when I opened and it’s what we still do today. Third party credibility and endorsement has always been so important and valuable to us.” In addition, the salon reaches global audiences with Instagram and Google reviews.
- Flexible teams: The salon has staff who work full-time, part-time, weekends while others are self-employed. The salon is proud to support working parents and a lot of its female staff are working mums.
Jo Hansford concludes:
“I feel incredibly proud of what I have achieved and I still get the same thrill at seeing someone leave the salon happy, full of confidence, with their hair looking amazing, just like I did when I first started. It is addictive seeing clients being transformed and it is the reason why I always want to come back for more!”
Blow dries at Jo Hansford salons start from £65; a cut and blow £150, and colour appointment start from £130.
To book an appointment, please contact:
Jo Hansford Harvey Nichols: The salon is open seven days a week, from 10am-7pm Monday to Saturday and 12pm-6pm on Sundays. For bookings, please call the salon on 020 7112 1493 or email Harveynichols@johansford.com