Interview: Elan Hair Design

Interview: Elan Hair Design

Winners in the ‘Sustainability’ category at the UK Business Awards ’16, Elan Hair Design is a family owned hairdressing business based in Scotland that has set the benchmark for sustainability within the industry. Embarking on an ambitious refurbishment plan in 2010, the ultra-modern salon is on target to reduce carbon emissions by 95%. 

Following their awards success, we caught up with Elan Hair Design’s Salon Coordinator, Lauren Milton to find out more about life after the finals:

With an impressive 27 national award wins and over 101 nominations under your belt, do you have any award-winning secrets you can share?

From my experience, you need to have something unique to your business. As long as you’re doing what you’re doing for the right reasons and have enough passion surrounding it - I think that’s what people recognise in our business and is the reason we win awards. So if you have some point of difference within your business then really push that ahead.

Looking back, where did your passion for becoming known for more than great hairdressing come from?

Back in 2010 we went down to Edinburgh for an industry seminar and met Charlie Hearn, our salon designer, and he was speaking about the use of LED Lighting used in his salon designs and how it can cut the costs of the daily running of the salon. I remember when we came back we talked and agreed to give this a try, to save money, do something different and take our business to the next level. 

The idea came from there and it quickly escalated to where we are now. It makes perfect sense that hairdressing and caring about the environment should go hand in hand as hairdressing is such an energy intensive environment: we use plenty of water and electricity and, I suppose, like in many other industries, you can make a lot of small changes that can impact business in such a significant way. 

From then onward I’ve enjoyed telling people our story, hopefully having impact on them to make changes in their own business as well. We wanted people to recognise the change that we have made and this way turn it into more of a firestarter – something that will inspire change in the industry or even other industries, and help them move forward and become more sustainable.

Has winning the UK Business Awards ‘sustainability category’ helped raise awareness of your holistic, caring approach’?

Yes, any kind of publicity in any kind of way you can get is great. We didn’t think we were going to win because we were up against big companies such as ALDI but our team has a strong goal and passion.

Based in Inverurie, a small town in Scotland – what would you say to other businesses aspiring to achieve award wins?

Just go for it! If you have something that’s slightly different, go for it, otherwise you’ll never know. 

It’s always best to try regardless of where you think you stand compared to others. If you have a good business model you should really showcase that. There is really no difference between a huge business in a big city and an SME from a small town. If you’ve got something, and especially if you’ve got something worth shouting about and you feel passionate about, it’s always good to get credit for it.

What drives you as a business to continue entering and becoming award-winners?

I think it’s all about getting the exposure and getting our story heard – to have that impact on other people. For me, that’s the driving force of entering awards.

Compared to other awards you have entered, what is the most unique benefit of The UK Business Awards for your business?

The UK Business Awards are definitely different from other awards we’ve entered, especially the judging process that went on during the day and I really liked the fact that you could have an open door presentation so that you can go and hear about other award entrants as well. 

That openness and finding out what other people are doing is unique, hearing about other companies’ stories and successes - it was more like a working experience. I haven’t come across that in any other awards that we’ve entered and I especially enjoyed that part of it.

Can you provide top tips for other businesses considering a more sustainable approach?

Go about it in a logical way. See where you can make instant small changes, have a long-term plan of growing, make a list and work on getting to your goal. 

We found it very easy to get to where we were because it’s a topic that everyone who has a little bit to do with is very passionate about. They want to help you and they want to push you on to other people that can help you. It might seem like a minor task but it isn’t, because everyone is there for one common goal, and as soon as you start making these changes, you’ll find how quickly they escalate into something you couldn’t have imagined.So, just making those first phone calls and making those initial changes will definitely push on to something very big. I have no doubt about that, because that’s exactly what happened to us.