Long-term expat Emma Horsley is no stranger to change. Since leaving her hometown, Birmingham UK, 15 years ago, she has lived in Australia, Indonesia and Canada. So she soon found her feet when she arrived in France 8 years ago to work in a hairdressing salon. The last 12 months however, have been something of a challenge, bringing her unexpected opportunities…
Tell us about the salon you were working in when you first came here.
I arrived in Paris back in September 2010. It was Friday and the next day I was working at the salon (Style Pixie). That initial trial day was a success and so I continued working there up until last year when the salon closed. It was the longest job I’d ever had in one place, mainly because it was a great place to work and there were plenty of opportunities for personal growth. The owners didn’t categorize their staff into boxes, which meant I was introduced to salon management, giving me the confidence to later open my own salon. Although, managing and owning a salon are two very different things; that microbusiness experience turned out to be invaluable.
So, when that salon closed it was a blessing in disguise for you?
Yes! I had two clear choices; find a job, most likely in a French salon, or open my own. I’m in my 30’s, so when it happened I thought to myself, it’s now or never, the timing is perfect, why shouldn’t I? It was time to move forwards… Anything other than setting up by myself would have been a step backwards.
You mentioned that managing and owning a salon are different things, how so?
I’ve learnt so many aspects that I wasn’t involved in as an employee – from securing the premises here in the 5th arrondissement, to managing the renovation. This time last year, this place was a dump. It was an office without hot water, no toilet, nothing. Then there is the marketing. I’ve come to learn Google Ads, Facebook marketing and social media in general. There are lots of aspects I’ve learnt along the way. For example, even the specific colour of the salon, turquoise, can’t be bought for outdoor use, so it was custom made.
Tell us about Sequence
Firstly, the name itself reflects the next step in my journey. I never wanted to use my name as a brand, so Sequence felt like the perfect name. As for the salon itself, I like to think my clients can come here to relax. This is a very personal business, generally people do want to relax and enjoy the whole hairdressing experience. This isn’t a salon where we ‘get them in and out’ as quickly as possible. It costs money for a woman to have her hair cut, especially if there are colours and treatments involved, so the service needs to be exceptional, something I feel is missing in France, not just in salons but across many industries.
I’m very good with short hair and use the Tigi catwalk range of products. From November, to mark the salon’s second year we’ll be introducing a new product line called ‘Végétalement Provence’, a French, bio, no detergent shampoo and conditioner. As we speak, no other salon in Paris has this range, I’m sure they will with time, but we’ll be the first!
Who are your clients?
I consider the salon an international salon, that’s not to say all of my clients are expats, there are many Europeans who come by, but most of the walk-ins are French. There is a school and a nursery around the corner, so I often see French mums testing me out by sending their kids in first. They’ll usually book themselves in straight after, once they’ve seen the results!
Does that really happen?
Oh yeah! everywhere around the world, parents use their kids as guinea pigs to test out a salon. It’s quite a common practice.
So now, looking back after a full year in business, what would you say about it?
It’s been a good year; the beginning was stressful, and I only had previously existing clients at first, but this developed with time. Finding your feet and learning a new space can be difficult, but it gradually becomes home and gets busier and busier as time goes on.
And you’re now making the space available on the days the salon is closed?
Yes, I rent out the space on Sundays and Mondays. It’s available to creative professionals such as photographers, makeup artists and bridesmaid fitters. We have a kitchen so it’s a perfect place for creative use.
What should people interested in coming to Sequence know?
They need to book quickly. Saturdays get booked up fast as most people work Monday to Friday. So, I’m here until 10pm, cutting until 9 to 9.30pm in the week. People are already booking their Christmas cuts!
Emma’s Salon, Sequence International hair is located on 13 Rue des Lyonnais, 75005.