Business owners bringing style, warmth and community to their Epsom salon
Salon FiftyThree is Rachel and Jese’s first business, but you’d never know it.
The Auckland salon is lovely and inviting, with beautiful design touches warming the elegant, minimalist space. The fun, creative flair of their website is evident as soon as you enter.
Finding a balance
Rachel had worked at small and large salons before opening Salon FiftyThree and loved aspects of both. She was working at a small salon and was ready to move on, but realised that moving to a larger salon would only bring her more stress, as opposed to more freedom, creativity or money.
She and her husband Jese started looking around and came across a salon whose owner was moving overseas. Rachel and the departing owner connected, and the deal was made! They opened in Easter 2016 as Salon FiftyThree and have been going full speed ahead since then.
Learning the ropes
The journey hasn’t been without its bumps, however. Rachel was the only stylist and took over two clientele, along with her own clients, which provided its own set of difficulties to navigate.
“Taking over clientele isn’t the easiest thing. People are really particular about their hair and how someone does it,” says Rachel. “I’m proud of myself in terms of getting people to trust me and do something different.”
“You can’t actually replicate someone else’s work. We’re so creative, we all do something a little bit different.”
Another challenge she and Jese faced head-on was establishing their trading hours. Salon FiftyThree isn’t open on the weekends, something that surprised some of the clients she’d taken over. However, Rachel said the overall response to her decision has been positive and is happy she stuck to her guns instead of giving in to her fears about the potential loss of business.
She had to draw on that courage again when she and Jese standardised the pricing, something she says they were nervous about but ultimately believed was the right thing to do. “As a first-time business owner, you want to latch onto any client. It’s like gold. But if they want to go, that’s just the reality of it. That’s okay — we’ve had a lot of new clients, too.”
Despite the challenges of taking over old clients, Rachel was busy enough to be run off her feet until she hired their other stylist, Holly.
Rachel is the face — and hands — of the business, working with clients every day along with her new employee Holly. Jese uses Timely and Xero to handle the behind-the-scenes admin of the business, allowing Rachel full rein to flourish creatively.
Although Rachel and Jese were new business owners, Jese says that if you look hard enough, there are plenty of resources online to help you learn the logistics. After doing their research, they settled on Timely as a great tool to simplify and clarify their figures. They also use Xero for their accounting, and love that Xero and Timely sync together and give them a clear overview of their books.
“Working with Timely is so logical and simple – and I love that it marries with our bank account, and with Xero. It’s just easy, and exactly what we need.”
The salon’s previous owner was entirely manual, which Rachel says was a struggle for her during the first month before they signed up for Timely.
“Pencil in, erase, pencil in, erase. I had a lot of no-shows the first month, not having any software. It was so frustrating. I definitely recommend getting reminders to anyone starting out!”
Jese admits that their business journey hasn’t always been easy, and at times they doubted whether they had made the right decision. “You do have those dark moments when you start out. But you have got to be able to have some sort of endurance, and have faith in the process.”
Finding their feet
Both Rachel and Jese see their passion for the business and their supportive community as key to their success. Without the love for the industry, it would have been a lot harder to stay firm during the inevitable rocky bits.
“If you are planning to get into business, definitely be passionate about what you want to do. If you do it because you love it, money will come.”
Rachel is committed to creating an experience that is more than just a haircut — she believes that building trust and loyalty is key to any good business. She and Jese work hard to create a community feeling in Salon FiftyThree. After all, their community is what brought them together, and got their business off the ground.
The couple are never short of support and encouragement from friends, family, and church family, which helps spur their motivation when it gets hard. “You need support. You cannot do it by yourself. When you win, you win in a community, and everyone celebrates that.”
And this advice is undoubtedly gold for anyone looking to start their own business, but after listening to their story, we’d say it’s not just passion and community that have made Salon FiftyThree such a success — hard work was an integral part of the mix, no matter how humble they are about it.
It’s inspiring watching new business owners like Rachel and Jese take on so many challenges and grow so quickly, and we’re honoured to be a part of that journey.