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Kevin Murphy SA interviews Well Known Personality Shanti O’Hagan of Mop Hair, Cape Town

Shanti shares her passion and dedication to a brand that upholds the ethos of her eco-salon.

My name is Shanti, I am a stylist and salon owner and together with my partner Sonet, we started Mop nine years ago.

Mop Hair is an eco-salon in the heart of Cape Town that offers a wide range of hair and beauty services whilst being mindful of the impact the industry has on the environment and how we, as salon owners, can make a difference and inspire other salons to do the same.

We choose to align ourselves with hair and beauty brands that uphold a similar ethos, by making sure that the products we stock use recycled or biodegradable plastic, have reduced chemical waste, do not contain harmful ingredients, or do not test on animals. We are passionate about educating and empowering young creatives, many of whom may otherwise have had limited career options, to find a sense of passion, fulfilment and success through doing hair.

We are Mop. We love people and we love good hair.

Why did you choose to become a hairdresser?

I became a hairdresser somewhat by chance. I knew that university wasn't really an option for me for financial reasons so at the age of eighteen, fresh out of school I decided I needed to find something that allowed me to learn and earn simultaneously and something preferably creative. Hairdressing seemed like it ticked most of the boxes and so I started my apprenticeship with five-time South African hairstylist of the year Tony Martin.

I put my head down and worked hard, exploring various facets the industry had to offer and on my 30th birthday I took the plunge and we opened Mop. It has been an incredible journey filled with opportunities, challenges, and plenty of perseverance. But most of all it has been a journey about the love I have for hair and where this journey has brought me.

What did you find the biggest challenges in your salon?

The biggest challenge initially was finding the right team. We were a brand-new salon and still finding our feet. I knew the type of stylists I wanted to work for us but perhaps I lacked confidence in my ability to manage other people’s careers. All I really knew at that point was how -to do- good hair. This, however, ultimately led me to take a chance on young apprentices, investing my time and knowledge training them from scratch, which has subsequently turned out to be one of the most rewarding things to come from owning a salon. Some of these girls still work for me today, others have gone on to work abroad or open successful salons of their own.

What is your formula for success?

Our formula for success is something that has been gradually cultivated over time.

There are a couple of key elements that we focused on from the beginning that continue to be the corner stones of our business and our success as a salon.

  • Focusing on exceptional client service from the first point of client contact which is when a client calls to book an appointment, until the client leaves the building, has been something that we really spend time and energy on. Also, consistency in all areas of the client’s experience.

  • Creating a strong salon culture with a zero tolerance for gossip, negativity, mediocrity, or exclusion. This sets the tone for the space into which your clients enter.

  • Investing in creating a beautiful space in which to welcome our clients.

  • Education, education, and more education. We never stop learning, growing, or taking time to invest in our skill as stylists. We have made international online training a priority that is accessible to our stylists in the salon in an allocated training room. We learn from each other, and we also invite other talented stylists from the city to come and share their knowledge with us.

  • And finally, good old-fashioned perseverance. Running a business is tough at times and sometimes you gotta just ride the waves, dust yourself off and learn from your mistakes. Always ask yourself how you could have done better.

If you started a new salon today, what would you do differently?

A year ago, we moved our salon to a new location, and we had the opportunity to rethink practical things like our layouts and adjust things that weren't working so well in our previous space which was a great exercise. It forced us to really look at our business with fresh eyes which I think is important. I feel like the mistakes and hardships along the way helped shaped us into where we are today. They helped us build resilience and highlight the directions we needed to move in, so I wouldn't go back and change too much.

The only thing I think I would do differently is stress less. Stress and anxiety really take the joy out of the process and start to affect your health if you don't manage it properly. It really took its toll on me initially, but I have learnt to manage it so much better, and my life and health are so much more balanced for it.

What are your salon goals for the next 5 years?

Our goals for the next five years are really to keep fine tuning our offering and our clients’ experience, that is our first priority. We are in the process of launching Mop Beauty which feels like a natural progression.

Other than that, I guess we want to show the world that despite the hardships and obstacles that we face in South Africa on a daily basis, we can unite and create something that can compete on a global scale. Something that not only competes on a skills level but that plays a role in the upliftment of young people; something that has real heart.

What would you say is your biggest achievement?

I would say that our biggest achievement is knowing the role we have played in changing individuals life situations through education and mentoring. To see young girls go from assistants washing hair to fully booked senior stylists and sometimes even successful salon owners. Material things come and go but that stays with you forever. That feels like a real achievement.

Why did you decide to stock Kevin Murphy in your store?

We are predominantly a Kevin Murphy salon. We are extremely selective about the brands that we bring into our space and Kevin Murphy felt like the best fit for us.

We love how passionate they are about reducing their carbon footprint on so many levels, their commitment to chemical alternatives in their colour and their retail products as well as their activism against testing and cruelty on animals.

We also really appreciate the aesthetic of everything they do from their packaging to their campaigns. They are an inspiring brand to be a part of.

To find out more about stocking the Kevin Murphy brand in your salon contact Twincare on Tel: 011 305 1600


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