Q&A: The hair and beauty entrepreneur offering an experience rather just an appointment

This week we talk to Michelle Follington, owner of the Blossom hair salon in Windsor, NSW and the Wig Emporium Online Boutique. An experienced hairdresser and business owner, Michelle only uses certified organic hair and body products in the ever-increasing range of services her thriving businesses are now offering on the back of Michelle treating the pandemic as an opportunity rather than a hindrance to their growth.

ISB: What was the inspiration behind you buying your salon in 2018?

MF: I have been a hairdresser for almost 28 years, I had my first salon at 19 which I sold when I had my first child. I was green but I still managed to grow the business and sell it for much more than I purchased it for five years prior. The inspiration for buying a salon again in 2018 was that I had been a working mother in my home salon for eight years. My eldest retired from horse riding so I knew I had the extra time to do something for myself. I found a perfect local salon that suited my needs and I transformed the space.

ISB: And how what is Blossom’s unique selling point in what is a very competitive space?

MF: We live on a toxic world and with the burden of chemicals on our systems creating havoc with our health and reproductive systems, Blossom’s USP is that we offer low tox/organic options for our services and retail. This is something I am passionate about as I have a genetic disorder which inhibits my natural ability to detoxify. I have studied extensively over the past decade and love that we can transform our clients without the use of heavy chemicals.

This goes hand-in-hand with the wig side of the business as we predominantly sell wigs to cancer patients and people with medical hair loss. These people are already conscious of what products they are using and its great we can continue servicing them even after their hair grows back. I am also a big believer in creating an experience. You can go to any salon and have your hair done but a memorable experience will set you apart from the mainstream salons, down to the tea cup they drink out of. Simple, pleasant gestures.

ISB: I understand you launched a spin-off online business last year – please tell us what was behind that decision?

MF: Having the growth in Blossom that I have had and realising that not everyone is able to visit me I knew I wanted to reach different market. I started Wig Emporium Online Boutique in October 2020, it was perfect timing with COVID happening around us. It has gone from strength to strength this last 12 months.

ISB: What is your vision for the development of both businesses in the next couple of years?

MF: I have just been able to purchase my own larger building just up the street to move Blossom and Wig Emporium into. This enables Blossom to have access to much more stock and, therefore, clients not having to wait for special orders.

I have done a complete fit out and added full beauty services and body contouring with my daughter at the helm. We have gone from a 60sqm space to 325sqm. Being able to offer organic beauty along with hair services is extremely exciting for us. Our next step forward is to open a fully-organic day spa in the upper level of the building which is a further 290sqm. I hope to make a start on this in 12 to 18 months’ time.

ISB: And, finally, what is the number one lesson you’ve learnt on your entrepreneurial journey to date you’d share with others looking to start their own business?

MF: My business is its own entity and I am simply the caretaker. As a young business owner at 19 years old it was hard to differentiate between my businesses cash and my own. But my number one lesson I have learnt along the would have to be never assume what someone has to spend, my job is to offer great service and great product. This has helped me have the confidence to sell without fear of rejection and without the need to be pushy or salesy.