Many hairdressers during lockdown were worried about their loss of business and how they would survive. Samm McCarthy-Fernandez however used the time to find a new salon, rebrand and expand his business and has just opened The Hair Chateau at Badgemore Park golf club.
Formerly known as SMF Hair based at Henley Village in Newtown Road, Samm said, “When lockdown started I was a bit down and worried about the future of my salon and then I thought to myself, when I am ever going to have four months to evaluate things and I had always wanted to grow my business and have a bigger salon. I didn’t want to open another high street salon as I didn’t want the eye rolls of people saying not another one, as lots of people already feel that there is already too many hair salons in town. As I wanted a salon with a different vibe, we looked at some barns that had lots of space but in the end they were too rural and didn’t have any passing trade. After talking about our engagement party with my partner which we had here at Badgemore, I called the owner, Jon and asked him if he had anything here. His wife was also a client at SMF Hair. “Originally this was going to be an office unit but work was stopped on this and then we effectively got a purpose built salon.”
Jon Connell, Managing Director at Badgemore Park said “As one of the best known stylists in Henley for many years and a talented guy who has worked exceptionally hard to build up a fantastic list of clients we were delighted when Samm approached us about the possibility of bringing his brilliant new concept to Badgemore Park. His business is the perfect fit for us in our continued desire to develop the number one leisure and lifestyle venue in Henley-on-Thames. The Hair Château joins a number of other beauty and wellness businesses that are now located at the club including osteopathy, hydrafacials, beauty therapists and we will shortly be welcoming a podiatrist and a massage therapist. Judging from the number of visitors who have already been to the salon it looks like Samm is already running a very successful venture and we look forward to his business being part of the Badgemore Park community for many years to come.”
Samm started hairdressing as a Saturday trainee at the age of 15. It took him 2½ years to qualify but then spent time vardering (in-salon training) at a Henley salon. At just 18 years old, Samm started doing fashion shoot session styling that he picked up through talent websites and made lots of celebrity connections who became clients and still visit the salon. Over the last few years, Samm has consistently been a semi-finalist in the L’Oreal Colour Trophy. In 2015, Samm left the said Henley salon and was already doing mobile home hairdressing. Samm commented, “I left in panic mode and didn’t know what to do. I went to see Darren West at Henley Village and he offered to convert a storage unit for me. Within 6 months, I had outgrown this and he then offered to convert a larger unit. I can’t thank Darren enough for being so supportive. He did a lot for me and he’s wished me well in this new venture.”
The Hair Chateau, located at 9th hole, now employing 7 staff members Samm explains “The salon and name reflects the luxurious feel to the salon and compliments the beautiful location. We’re also now a Kérastase salon (only the second one in Henley) which provides treatments specially tailored to our client’s hair. It’s like prescribing medicine for the hair. We give all our clients a warm and friendly welcome and we really care about how they want you their hair. It’s all about listening to the client, and truly understanding their needs. We have lots of clients who come from London and others who travel even further to come and have their hair done here including one who flies in from Ibiza every 6 weeks. With golfers finishing outside the salon, we’re also delighted to be able to offer walk-ins to those who just need a trim.”
What would Samm say to a young person interested in getting into hairdressing now? Samm replied, “The world is changing, you just need to look at Instagram to see that makeup, beauty and hair is becoming more popular and boys are now wearing makeup and girls are performing in drag. The world has moved on. When I was young it was embarrassing to tell people I was a hairdresser as a young guy as it wasn’t that normalised and I wasn’t very confident. If it something that you love doing, if school is not for you, you should try it. I was expelled at 15, it wasn’t for being overly bad, just being naughty as I didn’t want be there. I was creative – I loved drama and dance and started cutting hair on the school field for £10 by putting it in a pony tail on top of their head and cutting it, clients should be glad to know I’ve had a lot more training since then. School isn’t for everyone. It’s much easier now to get qualified through college and more in-salon training.”
Samm is very aware of making clients feel safe during these difficult times. He added, “We are taking the safety of our clients very seriously – cleaning all areas after every client, wearing masks and visors and following all the legal requirements. We know that if you’re feeling a bit low having your hair done is a great pick you up but we want to ensure that they feel safe at the salon.”
The Hair Chateau is currently offering 20% off the first visit to the salon with our new experiences stylists. Call 01491 599604 to book an appointment.