maven46 meets: The Space

A new salon with a new approach

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Words by Síomha Connolly
July 14th, 2016

While Dublin isn’t short of hair salons these days, one thing it is short of is hair salons with a difference. Newly opened The Space is the type of place that you can walk into and instantly feel at home. With interiors sourced from Moroccan markets as well as salvaged wood found on Dublin’s beaches reworked into light fixtures, wooden cabinets torched to look aged and copper sinks that add another touch of Moroccan charm to this captivating salon. The Space also features an outdoor courtyard filled with free standing plants and delicate garden furniture, the courtyard is a place for visitors to chill out and break away from daily stresses after getting your hair done to make your day that bit more relaxing and enjoyable. The owners were adamant that they wanted to create a salon that was welcoming, relaxing and free for people to sit back, relax, and make the place their own.

The staff also play a huge part in making this a salon experience to remember, with almost 30 years combined experience in the industry, co-founders Nadine Quinn and Carla Rose McQuillan are experts in their field. They run a CPD initiative in the salon, meaning all stylists must complete a certain percent of education every year to ensure they stay “motivated and passionate with their finger firmly on the pulse of whatever’s new and fresh, from both a creative and a technical point of view.” We sat down with Nadine and Carla to talk about Mindfulness, working with Vogue, and their frustrations with the hairdressing industry.

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Carla Rose McQuillan
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Nadine Quinn

On Mindfulness…

Nadine: I meditate every morning and I believe that generally everybody lives 90% of their lives either worrying about the future or reacting based on their experiences in the past so generally most problems are invented, they’re not necessarily even happening right now. I also think a lot of people find it hard to find any sense of purpose or joy in their work because they are not present, they are so up in their mind. So I think if you can de-clutter your mind as much as possible and live in the present as much as possible, then there is very little problems and very little distractions. You will then be able to do whatever your contribution is to its best.

On customer experience…

Nadine: I think the client or whomever you are sharing your time with gets a very authentic experience and feels like you were very present with them. I think that’s why The Space is so bright, clean and spacious because we don’t need the frills, the moody lighting or the flamboyance. You feel very welcome, you feel like you are listened to and you are very engaged with. I hope that everybody who leaves, leaves feeling lighter. They feel like they look better obviously because their hair is amazing, but they also feel lighter inside because they’ve had an authentic experience with good conversation and they have been listened to. It’s just one human to another human offering their talent and skills in a very mindful way.

Carla: Success is measured on the level of happiness and satisfaction of our clients and the feedback of their experience.  Every single client that I have had in this week were requests, and requests measure happiness. If you get a lot of request clients that means that they are happy with what you’re offering them because they want to come back.

On the minimalist design of The Space…

Carla: We’ve worked in multiple salons throughout Dublin and we feel that they can be quite similar. We’ve seen things when we went abroad that we thought were cool but it was all about the feeling that the place was going to bring. Of course the mindfulness was forefront in leading our design but we also took little bits from everywhere really. Myself and Nadine both lived in Australia for a while, and I lived in New York, and it was good to see that you don’t have to do it the way everyone in Dublin is doing it. You can do it your own way. We get a huge reaction to the design of the place. Everybody thinks we had an interior designer in but we just poured everything that we have into the design because we felt that it needed to replicate us. We want to spend all of our time here. When you’re in work you spend more time there then you do at home, so I said I wanted it to be a place that I don’t ever want to leave.

Nadine: I think as well that it’s the perfect balance of light and space that’s easy to be in and then quirky details and elements of our travels and personalities making The Space very eclectic and non-intimidating.

 

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On coming together for this project…

Nadine: I think we’re so tied together, unconsciously, that we didn’t actually have to plan much. It’s like if I’m doing something it’s a given that Carla will be doing it too, and vice versa.

Carla: Obviously going into business with someone is a huge deal. It is almost like marrying someone really, we’ve seen people who have partnered together succeed and we’ve also seen people who have partnered together fail. So you have to be quite realistic about it and you don’t want to jeopardise your friendship either, but we kind of said: we’ve competed together, we’ve competed against each other, we’ve worked on the floor and on projects together for years and we’ve been friends for over twelve.

Nadine: We also know that in very heated, high pressure scenarios that we have a system for dealing with it. Fundamentally I know that Carla has my absolute best interests at heart all the time no matter what and I think she knows that as well. So it doesn’t matter what happens or who says something wrong, we know that it’s not on purpose, it’s just down to a heated situation. I think we have good trust. This way we’re also working together, we’re building something together, whereas we’ve worked in situations where we were against each other and still maintained a beautiful friendship. If we can do that we can do this.

On strengths and weaknesses…

Carla: I definitely think we play to our strengths and weaknesses but myself and Nadine are kind of both all-rounders. We have made a decision to take on certain roles more so, maybe because the market has kind of led us that way, or people’s perceptions of us maybe. But in hairdressing we are definitely both all-rounders.

Nadine: I think with us it’s definitely not a skill thing, there’s not a huge gap between our skills. But I think it’s more of a personality thing. When I’m feeling off kilter Carla has a wonderful way of switching me back on, and vice versa. So it’s more that our characteristics balance each other rather than our skills. So any characteristics that I have, Carla has a lovely way of bringing them out and in the same way I bring out the best in Carla.

Carla: I think in business terms Nadine would be more of a person who would adapt and go with the flow, and I’d be way more procedure based with lists, so we complement each other in that way because she’s constantly saying to me “let it be, it will come, it will happen” and I’m constantly thinking we need to do this, this and this. Behind the scenes I’m definitely the list maker and the stock taker, and Nadine’s definitely the educator and the motivator, we do cross over but she’s definitely better at that stuff.

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On the highlights of their careers…

Nadine: The highlight of my career so far was when I did a fashion film for Vogue.com and it just had every major model starring in it. I don’t really read a lot of newspapers or celebrity magazines, but I remember just knowing that I was in a room full of the most elite models. At one stage they put Jourdan Dunn into an Alexander McQueen dress and put her in the bath. This dress was worth something like $60,000, and I just thought you know you’re in Vogue when they’re putting a sixty grand dress into a bath.

On getting into Vogue…

Nadine: I started working at fashion week in London and by chance when I was there, Tim Walker the Photographer was let down by his hairdresser and I got offered the gig with him. He was so impressed with me that day that he gave lovely feedback to his agency and then they just started sending me on work. Then Peter Gray who is a lead session artist on most fashion weeks, (I had worked with him on London Fashion Week,) also gave good feedback to his agency so I started getting work from them as well. I’m not actually with an agency but they contacted me for work quite often. So when I was in New York I was working with Peter Gray and they got in contact to see if I’d be interested in being an extra pair of hands on the Vogue gig. So I suppose it was a case of right place right time but I also think it was my skill speaking for itself as well.

Carla: I set myself a goal to achieve something and when I achieved that, it was definitely the best I’ve felt. It was the year that I won Irish Hairdresser of the Year and the L’oreal Colour Trophy in the same year. I’m the only hairdresser that has ever won them both in the same year. I set that goal maybe five years previous, not to win them in the same year but just to win them both and I just couldn’t believe that I actually did that – at the same time. That was definitely the highest moment I ever had in hairdressing. It was quite a surreal moment, I really couldn’t believe it. Another wow moment I had was when I did a shoot in Central Park, it wasn’t the best hair I’ve ever done but I remember how I just couldn’t believe that my craft had brought me to a photoshoot in Central Park. There are  little moments all the way through that I feel very grateful for.

 

On the challenges they face…

Nadine: I don’t know whether I should even say this but I’m going to say it anyway, I think a lot of women in this industry are exploited. I feel like sometimes it’s considered a blue collar trade and you might not be educated so if you’re working for men who do consider themselves educated, you can seem like an easy target. You work a lot of hours, it’s very physical, there’s a lot of creativity and attention to detail involved, not everybody can do it and do it well. I think sometimes there’s a lot of male bosses in the industry and I think sometimes they try to manipulate you. I just remember sitting in so many offices and thinking to myself “he actually thinks I’m an idiot.”

Carla: I think what Nadine is saying is that they consider hairdressers to not be as savvy, or well educated or as intelligent as they are.

Nadine: I think sometimes they can try and feed you information that is going to benefit them rather than you and they believe that you trust it and you think it’s legitimate guidance. So that led to the idea of the rent a chair initiative we have introduced whereby freelance stylists can essentially rent their chair, take their own bookings and have their own clients. We wanted to encourage people to try being their own boss  because I just think women are so capable and they can sometimes be underestimated. I want them to be able to see that in themselves and believe that in themselves, and not to necessarily need a boss or need to be fed any type of guidance, for them to believe in their own goals.

The official launch of The Space took place last night with drinks provided by Jameson, personal illustrations by Conor Merriman, and goodie bags filled with Kevin Murphy products and a selection of other treats. The girls have found themselves turning customers away already due to high demand, you can book your appointment online at The Space, but be sure to act fast…

We asked Carla and Nadine to share some of their top hair products with us, you can shop them below…