maven46 meets: The Founders of Roller Bar

Dublin's first all blow-dry bar

Words by Síomha Connolly
January 10th, 2017

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Sonia and Orna are the women behind Dublin’s first all blow-dry bar located near the tech hub in Grand Canal Dock. The busy pair also hold down individual jobs in tech, Orna currently works at STRIPE the payment system that’s taking over the world, while Sonia is the International VP of SoundCloud in Berlin. From their worldwide jet-setting, to holding down a family and home, and now launching their newest venture together we found out all the inside details from the women behind Roller.

On the idea behind launching Roller Blow Bar…
Roller was a concept that Sonia and I felt was missing from Dublin, especially around the Docklands, where there are no hairdressers or blow-dry bars. We travelled around the world together through Europe, US and Asia and we were always searching for blowdries. We went to a drybar in the US regularly and felt a blow-dry bar could work in Ireland. We are both self-confessed blow dry addicts, you can take on anything when your rocking a great blowdry.

On the attraction of opening a salon purely focused on blow-dries…
We saw a niche in the market here in Dublin, we wanted to focus on one thing and do a super job focusing on one thing – blowdrys. Irish women are extremely international now, they are used to travelling for their jobs, being mothers and multi-tasking. They want things done in a fast and effective way, Irish women, in my opinion, have super style and have fun with it, that’s different to other nationalities. We have had people from all over the globe in Roller due to the multinationals based in the Docklands such as Facebook and Google. The Marker [hotel] has also been an awesome supporter.

On deciding to go into business together…
We have been friends for 13 years and meet through work at Facebook and Google. We knew that we would work well together from our time in these companies. Honesty is key to our relationship, we talk a lot.

On multitasking between Roller and their tech day jobs…
We have an amazing team in Roller, they care about the brand, the clients, the product and the blowdries. Celia O’Dea manages Roller for us day to day. We meet weekly and of course, drop into the salon for blowdries a couple of times a week. We are not hands on day to day, but we are in the background working on Roller daily when we finish up with our full-time roles. We set the business up together so we understand how everything works but we do not need to be there every day.

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On a typical day in the life…
Everyday I try to do something for myself outside of working, a pilates class or acupuncture. Having a family and working full time is a struggle for everyone – male and female. I get up at 6.45am and do personal stuff before the working day kicks off, you can get a lot done between 7 to 9. Once I finish in the office around 7pm or so, that’s when the fun starts.

On the most challenging part about starting your own business…
Time, there is never enough time in the day. We both love to be busy we have 3 kids between us, both of our husbands work full time and we have full time jobs. I am also refurbishing our house, so the key is to plan ahead expect things to go wrong and not become frustrated.

On the best career advice they’ve ever received…
If you don’t have the answer, never wing it. This will dissolve your credibility. It’s ok to say I don’t have the answer but I will find out for you.

On the inspiration behind the urban interiors at Roller…
We designed the interior ourselves based on many ideas from all around the world. The floor was a starting point and we went from there. My husband Clifden was key in helping with the interior, we make a good team when it comes to style and ideas. We were aiming for a comfortable, stylish, relaxed vibe and I think we hit the spot.

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The Bounce
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The Straight Talker

On ensuring each customer has a pleasant and memorable experience at Roller…
All of our experiences have impacted how we run Roller, especially around culture we see how a positive culture impacts the business and this is what we want to foster at Roller. We love feedback and we take it on board to improve and change things. The team is open to doing things differently and learning as we grow. Client satisfaction is key to our success and we focus heavily on every customer having a positive experience.

On deciding on the location for the salon…
Location was key for the project, we have both been working in Grand Canal for years and there was nowhere to go for a blowdry.

On their favourite blowdry styles…
Orna – Always The Bounce, I love a full-on blowdry look – totally addicted.

Sonia – The Straight Talker.

Roller is at 23 Forbes Street, Dublin 2. Visit Roller.ie for more information.

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