Start Up Business Inspiration

by Elize Strydom

What are you waiting for? Society Hair’s April Carlin on starting a new business in the Clarence Valley.

A move from Sydney to Yamba presented April Carlin with the opportunity to embark on a new career and open her own business, Society Hair. She admits there’s never a perfect time to take the leap of faith but wants to assure others that pursuing your dream is worth the risk.         

“I didn’t want to die wondering,” April Carlin concludes as she explains how she knew it was time to branch out and open her own hair salon. Just over eight years ago, April moved from Sydney to Yamba and met her now-husband, Matt. She signed up to do a commercial hairdressing course and volunteered at a salon then called Pure Shine where the owner, Casey showed her the ropes. April was determined to learn her new craft as thoroughly as possible and enthusiastically accepted the guidance she was offered. She completed her apprenticeship and picked up some casual shifts before moving on to another local salon, Pure Hair and working there for five years. 

Owning a business had always been April’s dream but now it was beginning to take shape. Matt, a personal trainer and owner of The Gym Yamba, knew that one of his clients owned a space in the town’s main street that had been empty for about a year. April went to check it out but was overwhelmed.

“I thought it was way too big!” she remembers. “Looking at the space felt scary – it was too real!” 

But along with her husband, April had a few key supporters urging her to take the plunge. 

“A close girlfriend in Sydney was telling me to go for it,” she says. “She’s been a massive support!” 

With their voices echoing in her head and her self-confidence growing, April sat down with Matt and did the numbers. When they worked out it was possible, April and Matt wasted no time getting to work. She signed a lease for the Yamba Street space and began to design her ideal salon. With only a week between finishing up at Pure Hair and opening the doors to Society Hair, it was all systems go. 

“Everything arrived and Matt and I put it together ourselves,” she says proudly. “Then people just started popping in.”

“My mum came on board and she was absolutely amazing,” April continues. “She went from being retired, to working seven weeks full time in the salon!”

April hosted a launch event and thanked all of her tradies and supporters then officially opened the doors to clients on October 28th, 2019. This was no soft opening; April hit the ground running. She worked the first two weeks on her own before she was joined by her first employee, fellow hairdresser Lorraine Allen.    

April’s aim is for a visit to the hair salon to feel like much more than simply ticking an item off your ‘to-do’ list. She’s determined to create a community – a society – where people feel valued and experience a sense of belonging. Society Hair’s premium service is all about relaxation plus a little bit of luxury. April intentionally created a bright and airy environment, conducive for letting go while enjoying “me time”. She hopes the decor and styling invoke a calm yet uplifting state of mind.

“I want people to walk in and instantly feel at ease,” she explains. “I want them to switch off and forget what’s going on at home.”

“The best things my clients can say is that their hair looks and feels great, my staff are lovely, our space is amazing and they’re going to recommend us to friends!” 

While April especially enjoys colouring hair, she says the most rewarding aspect of her job is seeing a client’s face light up when they look in the mirror.

“I love it when they say, ‘That looks amazing!’ or ‘This colour is awesome!’,” she beams. 

The effects of COVID-19 were experienced by businesses large and small, but April sailed through the storm with poise and positivity. Her staff were the number one concern and she made sure their jobs were safe. Though daunting to begin with, the size of the premises proved to be a blessing in disguise. Social distancing was never a problem and April was able to comfortably and safely space out clients and staff. 

“From there it has not stopped!” she exclaims. “We have a three to four week wait to get in and I work late almost every night. It’s full on!” 

Society Hair has clearly been embraced by the Clarence Valley community and April is going from strength to strength. She describes residing and working in Yamba as “living the dream” and says the region lacks nothing. Looking to the future, April is entertaining the idea of opening another salon and moving into the event and wedding market. Her exponential growth should serve as inspiration for anyone considering starting a business in the Clarence Valley. As a close friend once said to April, what are you waiting for? Just do it!

For further details on Society Hair click here to see their profile

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