Followers of my twitter feed @newrooms will have been familiar with the #whereisjenny theme to my tweets over the last few weeks.
Jenny was my hairstylist at Vidal Sassoon’s for the last decade. In a sea of beautiful people clad in black, hers was frequently the only face which ever had a smile on it. They had that looking devastatingly attractive but moody and frowny expression off to a fine art there, yet when you spoke to any one of them, they were all, without exception, lovely people.
So I was devastated when I called last year to book an appointment only to find Jenny had left.
We put our trust in people, whether employers like it or not. I think it’s a credit to Vidal Sassoon’s that I love her work so much that I’m willing to track her down come hell or high water. Sadly and for highly obvious reasons, now more than ever, it’s bad business practice to tell clients where their previous employees now work. So despite my hints and enquiries nobody from VS ever let on where she was. My only trouble was that what info I did glean led me to believe that she was no longer working in the city centre….until my last visit when someone let slip that she was! RESULT.
I spent a week on twitter appealing to the folk of Manchester. Then I went to dinner with some friends. Jennifer runs Democracy PR and I was sure she would know someone at Vidal’s who would be happy to ‘fess up. We were dining in one of my favourite Manchester haunts on Bridge Street, Cafe Istanbul….whose menu and decor are simply fabulous. (I love these lights!)
Sadly Jen knew of nobody but she did make the point that a former senior stylist from VS would only realistically be working in one of about 8 salons in Manchester and a systematic phone round would doubtless lead to her.
Not knowing any salons off the top of my head I googled and emailed about 5. What struck me was how lovely all the responses were. Seriously, general retail could learn a thing or two from the customer focussed attitude of hairdressers. Most replies were instant or within a few hours. All offered regret that no, Jenny had not gone to them but asked if I did fancy trying somewhere new they would be happy to see me and attached a price list.
You know, general business is nowhere near as good and immediately efficient as this! Most people, as you will know this to be my personal bete noire, fail to even acknowledge receipt of an enquiry. Hairdressers, for the all the criticism they tend to receive otherwise, proved quite the most helpful and upskilled group of folk I’ve encountered in a while.
Ultimately I had the magical reply from Swoon. Yes, she was there. And when I got there what a joy. No less than I think 5 people have left VS to work there and the atmosphere is happy, bright, welcoming and a joy.
And where is Swoon? It’s on Bridge Street, next door to Cafe Istanbul….you couldn’t make it up!
Virtually every member of staff said hello, had a warm easy sense of conversation. These guys are professionals at making your time with them effortless and enjoyable. There is no forced politeness, which I have to say was very obvious at VS. I regularly felt that the juniors were uncomfortable with the level of formal exchange they were obviously encouraged to employ. I approved of the sentiment wholeheartedly, yet when it comes across as forced it loses a sense of the genuine! Yet you can tell that the Swoon team hail from this great background of expertise matched with genuine courtesy coupled with piles of customer focused attitude.
I was literally met with open arms, how lovely.
The decor is light and airy with an eclectic mix of old pieces of furniture matched with contemporary accessories…I love the silver stag’s head
and in situ…..
I could gush forever not least because I love a new business and to see it flourishing. To see people doing well at the moment, however, makes my heart sing.
Bridge Street is rapidly becoming my favourite place in Manchester. I spent my first date with my now husband at the Bridge restaurant & bar across the road….also a superb place for food and drink, a mixed customer base and ideal for people watching.
I love Cafe Istanbul…there’s a Waitrose down the road and for the macabre among you, there’s the Gaslamp bar too. A former morgue, the atmosphere is a strange one. Maybe it’s because you know what its previous life was or maybe not but with all due repsect I couldn’t wait to get out!
So I’d say give it a whirl. Give them all a whirl. It’s a great part of Manchester, right on the edge of Spinningfields, leads onto Deansgate, a stone’s throw from seemingly everywhere I really like in the city centre…what more could you want? In another life I’d have liked to site newroomsonline right there on that opposite corner!