How Hensmans Salon is Staying Strong at 40

by kieran / last updated October 26, 2020

Hensmans Salon

As Hensmans salon in Northampton celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, owners Gemma and Julie Hensman share their story and secrets on maintaining relationships and thriving since the 80s.

Working with the local community

“We have been based in Northamptonshire since we opened in 1980 and are proud to be an integral part of the local community, with one of our most meaningful relationships being the University of Northampton’s fashion department. We first worked together in 2001 when they needed hair doing for a photoshoot, and 20 years later we are still working together. We have developed a creative synergy that includes teaching a course for the students and setting creative briefs based on the Schwarzkopf Professional Essential Looks trends.”

“We have also developed relationships with the students and staff, which has resulted in new clients. For the team, this is a great way to gain creative experience and have an outlet for their ideas outside of the salon. We were also lucky enough to shoot our 40th anniversary collection in the state-of-the-art photo studio that was built as part of their £44 million campus refit.”

“We are also very proud of the relationship we have with other local brands such as Thackeray Man + Women; pre-lockdown, we would run shopping events with them and Steffans Jewellers, but have now moved into digital collaboration. In a recent seminar by Simon Ellis, Schwarzkopf Professional’s international creative director, he stated: ‘Local collaborations are invaluable moving forward from this pandemic.’ That really resonated as it’s something we’ve believed in since day one.”


Choosing a great brand

“We have worked with Schwarzkopf Professional since day one and have been exposed to incredible opportunities through our professional partnership with the brand. Gemma was on the first Young Artistic Team and she ended up keeping her place for three consecutive years. Since then, we have had more than 20 team members achieve a place. This game-changing opportunity helps the team develop creatively and professionally, and really helps them in the salon. As an ambassador for the brand, Gemma also works closely with the team in Germany on product development and launches.”

“Schwarzkopf Professional supported us on our 40th anniversary shoot,  coordinated by National PPS manager Kay Brad, and shot by Schwarzkopf Professional ambassador, Michael Young of Hooker & Young. It has always been a very personal relationship, rather than purely business and we found their support essential during lockdown, from the practical (the relaxation of bill payments and product and posting out retail products service) to the inspirational (access to online education and interviews).”


Making friends in the industry

We might be a family business, but we look to the industry for support, too. We are grateful for all of our peers and friends within hairdressing, including Debbie G. She first started as John’s apprentice before heading to Vidal Sassoon and becoming the hairdressing icon she is today, and she has remained supportive ever since. Hooker & Young are also incredibly helpful and we were delighted to work with Michael and Gary on our 40th anniversary shoot, which he kindly shot and art directed. 

Elsewhere in the industry, we’ve found the NHBF to be enormously supportive and a reliable source of information during lockdown. Through them, we were privileged to be able to look at the first draft of Government reopening guidelines. Being able to give feedback that made meaningful change and feeling listened to on behalf of the industry was very humbling.


Assembling a dream team

“We are very proud to have lots of long-standing team members- from Leah, who has been with us for 29 years, to a core of senior staff who have all been part of the family for over a decade. Our long-time manager Carol Straughan is now the owner of Hensmans Milton Keynes; Leah Inwood, who started as a Saturday girl more than 25 years ago, was promoted to associate director in 2016 and has launched a Hensmans concession within the Hawthorns residence; and Mitchell Gough, the 20th Hensmans team member to be part of the Schwarzkopf Artistic Team who created a dedicated space for his specialist men’s work in Abington Square. Having a tight-knit, long-term team means we are able to work together very closely on goals and ambitions.”

“Our young management heroes – Kelsie O’Conner, James Campbell, Fran Bruce, Lauren Probate, Lucy Noon and Mitchell – drive us forward with their passion and insight. Returning from lockdown has been a challenge, but our entire team is amazing and have been a credit to the industry, working with professionalism and a smile on their face – or so they tell us with the PPE masks in place!”

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