Jasmin French: Edinburgh beauty salon

Not many twenty-year-olds open their own beauty salon. But that’s what Jasmin French did. Four years on, she employs six people and plans to expand into another salon, triple the size of the original one.

“I knew I wanted to do this since I was 13,” she says. “I applied to beauty school then and there but I was too young.” She finished school and when she was 17, enrolled at Mary Reid Beauty School in Edinburgh and later on a hair and makeup course in Manchester. JasminFrench salon in Edinburgh offers hair styling, makeup, brows, nails, spray tans and a number of other services.

“When I was in Manchester, I saw a different kind of customer,” she explains. “People got their hair and makeup done in one salon - all glammed up to the nines. I did some market research and found that in Edinburgh, there was nothing like that. I saw it as an opportunity.”

Who run the world? Girls.

There are two women who have made a lasting impression on Jasmin: her mother and one of her teachers from Manchester. “My mum’s got her own business and that inspired me to be my own boss,” she says. Her mother runs the recruitment company D R Newitt. Growing up, she could see the benefits of being self-employed. “It’s the flexibility and not being told exactly what to do. I like to be in charge.”

Her drive also came from meeting hair and makeup artist Olivia Davey. At the time, Jasmin was 18, studying in Manchester. “One of the girls that taught me did hair and makeup for Strictly Come Dancing,” explains Jasmin. “She was only 20 and it made me think - how has she got there already?”

Little did she know that by the time she was 20 herself, she would be running a salon of her own. Her choice to focus on makeup and styling, rather than cutting and colouring hair, not only made her business unique within Edinburgh, it also made it more affordable to set up. “Blow dries are cheap to do - all you need are shampoos, conditioners and styling products,” she says. For cutting and colouring hair, official certificates are required, plus more stock.

Staying on the ball

During the outbreak of the coronavirus when the salon had to temporarily close its doors, Jasmin encouraged her staff to watch online tutorials to keep learning new skills and styles. “I want everyone to be able to do everything - hair, makeup, nails. And there's so much free education online - the girls can get all the skills they need," she says. "Try and drive your staff - find out where they want to go. Check in with them, encourage them to learn something new.”

A lot of the best hair and makeup artists are self-taught. Jasmin herself started by watching YouTube videos and helping friends at school with their hair and makeup.

Avoiding clashes with Timetastic

Online tools also play a key role in the day to day running of the salon. Lots of their inspiration for looks come from Instagram or Pintrest, rather than magazines. She also uses technology to manage staff holidays. “My mum recommended Timetastic - she uses it for her company,” says Jasmin. Before signing up, the stylists would text her dates that they wanted to take off. It was time-consuming and complicated.

With Timetastic, the stylists can come to her with solutions, not problems. They can look at their app, see when other stylists are off on holiday and base their requests on that information. Everyone has 25 days holiday per year.

“With Timetastic, we can see if things clash,” she says. “And it’s a really good price. It’s so worth it and hassle free.”

Creating and maintaining a positive atmosphere

When hiring stylists, being confident and comfortable talking to people is the most important thing that Jasmin looks for. “The key thing is personality, you need to be able to chat to clients and build that rapport. That’s what brings people back. We want a chatty and uplifting atmosphere." After that, she tests their skills and looks for a natural creative ability. “That’s also really key - you’ve got have an eye for what would suit people.

Teamwork is fundamental to the success of her business. “We’re all offering a service together with hair and makeup - if you don’t work as a team, it doesn’t work.”

To strengthen these ties between staff, Jasmin organises a few events a year with the whole team. They always have a Christmas party and usually do one or two evenings in the summer. “We did a cocktail making class last year and we've also been to the Festival together,” she says.

Running a business in your 20s

As a young boss, she’s mindful of becoming too close to the women she employs. She’ll always be friendly. But that doesn’t mean she’ll be their best friend. It’s a balancing act. She’s often younger than some of the people she employs, who range from 16 to 30. It’s something that also surprises new clients. “Still find to this day, people in the salon ask to see the owner and then I appear and I’m not who they expected,” she says.

Her advice for young business owners? “Just try not to think about what other people think and aim to make it as successful as possible!”