Lightbulb Moment with Roy Kennedy of Black Amber

When did you realise this was the career for you?
Both my mum and dad are hairdressers so I was no stranger to the industry. I was brought in and out of salons as a kid and loved the atmosphere and the people who worked there – they were unique and quirky – it was like having another family. When I did decide to start in hairdressing I felt it was not a job but a career.

What training course helped you most?
Funnily enough, I never actually graduated as a hairdresser but always had a love for colour. I completed my L’Oréal colour degree and this was the biggest decider as to where my career would go from there. I became the Colour Manager in Peter Mark Stephen’s Green and went on management training with the company, I loved the idea of being a leader. This ultimately gave me the confidence to open my own salon.

What defines an effective consultation?
Being able to communicate with other people is crucial in our industry. I believe clients don’t see the importance of a consultation the way we as hairdressers do. I think if you can connect with a client and they have an understanding of what you are going to do, this will set you up to satisfy your client. Each client is an individual and some need more time and commitment than others.

What parts of the business do you struggle with?
I have a three-salon group and delegating time to each of them can be a challenge. Delegation is key. It allows members of the team to stand out and shine within the company. Juggling everyday life and business can have its moments, as a dad of two girls with a
busy salon group needs huge time and

What do you look for when hiring?
Someone who is easy to have a conversation with and can be themselves, who is confident and has a passion for hairdressing. We have a very unique industry and I believe it takes a certain type of person to be a hairdresser. I am almost 10 years in business and I love seeing the younger generation come through with their ideas and passion and twist on hairdressing.

Roy Kennedy Black Amber

How do you keep staff motivated?
We focus heavily on education and are fortunate to partner up with some amazing product companies – this gives us the insight into what is going on outside us. We run trips abroad throughout the year and this brings us together and keeps the team of over 40 strong. Sometimes the simplest way to keep them motivated is to have the younger assistants show us what they are learning.

How do you encourage repeat business?
You need to be consistent and believe in your brand. If you have a strong brand then you need to filter this down to each member of your team. I don’t believe it is good enough now to just be a great hairdresser; you have to be different and stand out from your competition. Clients will come
back time and again to a team and brand that they love. A good brand is infectious and your clients are your best way of encouraging repeat and new business into the salon.

Is there anything you would do differently?
There is nothing I would do differently however I have made some mistakes and I continue to learn each day. Although I am in business a long time, there are new tasks and challenges each day. The growth of the company has been extremely fast within the last couple of years and my position within it has changed greatly. I went from being a colourist five days a week to now doing clients two days a week and focusing on the company the other days.

What do you want to improve on?
This year I plan to spend more time on the salon floor working closely with each member of the team. If I can learn what the team needs this will help me to grow and continue to develop the
Black Amber brand.

Please share a career highlight.
The biggest highlight has been the growth of the company in the last four years. We launched in 2008 and opened the second branch in 2010. We successfully traded through a number of tough years and in 2015 we opened our Gorey branch. This was a huge step – not only were we
expanding, but we were stepping outside of Dublin. The company has doubled its team since 2015 and continues to grow at this rate.

What are the future plans?
We are always on the lookout for another unit so who knows, maybe salon number four. We are also honoured to be asked to do the L’Oréal Colour Trophy Grand Final show in July so we will have a huge focus on this.