Behind the Electric Salon Brand with Mark Woolley
HJ speaks to award-winning hairdresser Mark Woolley, founder of Electric Hairdressing London, about growing a salon and professional brand business and the importance of being true to your beliefs.
What was the inspiration behind your Electric product range?
I met a really great chemist and spoke to him about what I felt certain products couldn’t do. He said he could help me to make something that would work for me. I enjoyed the process – it took a couple of years to get the first product ready but once we made it – it worked.
How important are sustainability and ethics for you and your brand?
Electric is UK-based, and all our manufacturing is sustainable. We source everything that goes into the bottle, natural ingredients and compounds. Everything is sourced within the British Isles, which means we know that none of our ingredients have been tested on animals. All of our packaging is 100% recyclable –even the lids. Electric products are completely sustainable and cruelty-free with a high percentage of natural ingredients.
What are the benefits of sourcing your ingredients from the UK?
I’m extremely proud that we source all of our ingredients from the UK – it feels right for our brand.
How do you juggle running the brand alongside being a salon owner?
It’s all about having a strong team of people around you. Every Electric salon has a homegrown art director and a homegrown manager. It has taken me years to not try and do everything and I’m still learning! The great thing with Electric Hairdressing being a brand and not a person is that you can let other people acheive things and let them be rewarded for it.
Why is it important to you that Electric remains a professional quality brand?
It is all about making products that are powerful tools for hairdressers. That is our market and what we know – we’re hairdressers and we understand what the product is. It’s important that we’re making professional products.
Do you plan on growing your salon chain?
I see our salons as a very important part of our brand and I’d rather be putting our efforts into the quality of our existing salons – keeping good staff and growing the network of each salon in its local area. In saying this, a lot of stores have gone online so there are units available on the high street, which makes it easier for hairdressers to set up a new salon, but we definitely won’t become a salon group.
What’s the highlight of your career so far?
The thing that altered everything for me was making that first product – it changed everything for me and
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced when running your own business?
Trying to finance it all myself is a challenge. One day I’d like to tell my whole story with the hope that a young person will listen to me and will decide to give it a go themselves. When we moved out of our house and moved to Falmer Court in Brighton, it was a case of one minute we were jumping up and down because our salon had done well, but the next minute we had our head in our hands about how we were going to meet the next VAT bill. The challenge of running a hairdressing business is trying to keep your clients happy while you’ve got major worries on your mind. I’ve learned the value of everything and not to be stupid with money.
What are your tips for building a successful brand?
You’ve got to keep it real, stay true to what you are and what you believe in. Be prepared to work hard and to do more than anyone else has done.
What are your go-to products in the Electric range?
I never go anywhere without preparation spray (P*-4), and I use it on everyone. I use it on runway shows where the hair has to look natural or on anyone when working on a set. I love our ºC-7 e.spray hairspray – it is a really unique offering as it doesn’t contain any alcohol. We thought – do we really want to be spraying alcohol over our hair? We use butane in the product as a propellant, there’s a little bit of alcohol in this, but in the formulation there is zero alcohol. We use cotton oil extract because of how it reacts with the propellant as a substitute for alcohol.