This week Girls Perspective caught up with Rita Balogun the founder of Radiant London Hair Salon. We spoke about hair, managing a business, her advice for budding female entrepreneurs and much more.
How did you get started in hair?
I stumbled into it! My Mum started a salon 16 years ago and I initially had no interest in hair, I was training to be an actress and so I went to New York and when I came back I started working in the salon on a part time basis. My mum was no longer there and there was another manager, at the time I was doing it with a friend but the more we did it together the more I started getting interested in it and I just began to have a strong vision for it and my passion for it grew.
Do you simply manage the salon or do you also get involved with some of the stylings as well?
I am not involved in the styling, I don’t do hair. I manage the salon, as well as being behind of all the creative aspects of the business. I plan our shoots, campaigns, the content that we put on our social media and all of those elements to the salon.
What sort of challenges do you find running a salon and managing people?
Everybody is different, so being able to understand each person and deal with them accordingly. Another challenge is always making sure we are making enough money. Always making sure to that we are meeting our targets and also keeping my team motivated and getting them involved in the business.
How do you inspire or motivate your team?
I like getting them involved in the business in terms of making sure they know that they’re part of something that is exciting and encouraging them to think of ideas and contribute to the what is going on. I always let them know when they are doing a good job, when they are smashing it and I always try to uplift them. I like to give them time off if they are going through anything. I listen by and giving my time and support, so they know that where they are is not permanent and remind them of their potential constantly. As well, constantly telling them what my plans are for the salon, the kind of things we want to do, the people we want to work with, and let them know what our our end goals are. Sticking to your word is something I think is a major key, when you say something, you have a plan,you have to do it.
What do you think is key to being a good business owner?
To be honest I don’t know. I don’t feel established enough to know what that key is because every day I am learning something different. From what I know so far I think the key thing for any kind of leadership is to be able to serve others. I think as a business person you have to give your staff time and you have to serve them in the sense of giving them everything that they need, so that they can do the best job that they can do. As a business person you have to have a strong vision, you have to take risks and you have to, have to listen.
What makes Radiant London different from other hair salons?
I think one is our branding. We are very specific about what our brand is and also we not just think about the money. The health of our client’s hair always comes first. We don’t do anything we are not supposed to be. Everything that we do is very specific, down to the services that we offer, the branding and even the people that we work with, nothing is too random.
In the nature of conversations about hair, such as wearing your natural vs non-natural, what are your views on this topic?
I don’t think it should be a debate, It’s whatever works for you. Everybody has a different lifestyle, so if you have natural hair and that’s the look you want to go for then do it. And if you have a different lifestyle and you don’t have the time to manage natural hair then that is okay as well, if that fits for you. I just think that it’s wrong for people to suddenly say who should have natural hair and who shouldn’t and what it means if you don’t have natural hair. It can always work both ways and it’s very much dependent on the person.
Hair is such an important piece of our identity as women. How do you think women can embrace their hair more and become more confident?
I think that comes from figuring out your hair, understand what your hair is. As people, when we don’t understand something we automatically take a dislike to it because we don’t know it. So I think that with hair,we have gone through a generation gap of not understanding or how to look after it. Now is the time to just discover your hair, knowing what products work and don’t work for you. Be willing to explore and figure it out. find the look that is unique for you and once you do, you will love your hair. It all starts with getting to know your hair.
As black women, there is always pressure for us to look a certain way when it comes to our hair. How do you think your salon helps to create a positive image in terms breaking the stereotypes?
We do everything, we have never been the place that says that you only have to wear a certain look or a certain colour. Whatever style you want or colour whether it’s purple, pink, green or blue we do everything. It is about finding that look that is you. We have always done lots of other things, but for a while we were only promoting our weaves on our social media and in general, so for a while that is all people thought that we did. So when we did our refurbishment and re-brand, we broadened out our branding to make sure that we are promoting everything that we do. We’ve started to just do as many services as we can to make sure everybody is part of it. As well, our branding is all about ‘The Radiant Girl.’ This reflects all of us and is bringing us all together.
Your salon is all about #GirlSquad. How does the girl power movement impact your brand?
It’s not something that I think about, when you have a vision it’s just something that starts with you. So I think when I started to put some of myself into the brand that’s where the whole Radiant Girl and Radiant Squad stemmed from, and so it has kind of gone into the other stuff that we do, like in the events and the environment that we try to create. We try to create a family and community in wanting to help the Radiant Girl from all angles, not just on your hair but also in these different areas that we are reaching from our events.
In growing your business how important is creativity to you?
It is very important, without your creativity it’s just black and white, there is nothing to it, you have to do things that make you stand out. I’m naturally a creative person anyway, so I always have ideas of what I want for the business etc. In general, I think creativity is an important aspect for any business, because you have to always adapt and change yourself to move with the times.
What is one thing you have learnt about yourself from starting the business?
I’m smarter than I thought I was. As well as if I want to do something, I’m going to do it and if I’m not doing it then I may not want it as much as I thought I did.
Your mother Mercy B is also a female entrepreneur and has a book that just came out. What has she taught you about being an entrepreneur and running your own business?
She has taught me to just do it!! If you have an idea then just go for it and find the right people to support you doing it. Both of my parents are business people and so I’m constantly being told to just do it. As well as hire the right people, it’s important to hire the right people. It’s always better to have people around that are smarter than you and can help you get to the next lesson. Another thing is knowing that sometimes relationships are better than money. You might get a client or an opportunity that is big and you might choose to overcharge them and then you end up losing out on the relationship, whereas the relationship in the long run might have been more beneficial to you if you charged them at a standard rate or a lesser rate. It’s about knowing who to charge and who not to charge.
What has been the most unexpected thing you have faced?
Unexpected things are happening all the time. In business, the unexpected are inevitable, you plan a whole thing and then something goes wrong. Being a business person is living a life where these things happen,every day is different, so throughout my journey, the unexpected has been how much it has grown. You kind of do something and you hope that it does well and people buy into. So for me, it would be how much people have supported it and how much people have bought into it has been unexpected and really appreciated.
What is your favourite thing about doing hair?
I would have to say it has been the people. Meeting different people, being able to be creative, creating new hairstyles, creating new opportunities, and also when we see people doing similar things to us.
Based on what you have learnt from starting your own business, what advice would you give to other budding female entrepreneurs?
Stick to your truth don’t try and copy people. Have a vision and stick to it and you can think about different ways to achieve it. As well as just believing in it, because people will only believe in what you are doing, the moment that you to believe in it.
What can we expect from Radiant London this year?
We are getting ready to launch our new salon, which will be opening in Croydon soon. Information about that is kind of being kept under wraps at the minute but we will be letting people know more about that on our Social Media in terms of dates, what we are planning and what we are going to do. Besides that, it’s just more growth for the brand and more content.
To keep up with Rita and all things Radiant London visit their: