BLOG: Finding your niche, by Sebastian Stetkiewicz of Eleven Hair
Hairdressing is a fiercely competitive field so to stand out from the crowd, you should offer something that is unattainable elsewhere. 11 years ago, after I first began my career in hairdressing, my ‘niche’ seed was planted: working for Eleven co-director, Christian Toth, at his former salon Compton Hair, I began assisting with his Yuko thermal straightening treatments, a move that helped carve out a niche specialty in the years following.
After Compton Hair, I attended the Yuko Academy in London, where I spent a good year working as an instructor and training salons and stylists on how to use this system. After one year, I was fortunate enough to be able to work with Christian again and, having become skilled at offering the Yuko Straightening system, this allowed me to be one of the first people in the UK to offer this treatment outside of the academy. Here, we began working in more depth to develop the art of straightening to go above and beyond the ‘normal’ level of care.
Having worked extensively with various thermal hair treatments, my team and I have been able to hone an individual technique which provides excellent results. As opposed to using one type of treatment designed for one hair type, we focus on blending together a bespoke creation to cater for all hair concerns and ensure that each treatment is truly tailored to the client’s needs. We go the extra mile to identify additional issues within the hair, focusing on repairing damage as well as addressing other hair concerns such as frizz.
It’s fair to say then, that thermal styling and working with chemicals is my ‘niche’, something I think is very important for all stylists. We eventually developed the digital perm and are currently working on another project involving hair repair. If you can offer something that no other individual or salon possesses, it is a great business advantage. That’s not to say, however, that establishing a niche offering is without its difficulties; one of the challenges we personally faced was sourcing the right materials. This required plenty of trial and error before we finally found a fantastic supplier who could provide quality products to meet our requirements. This is so important.
For anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps, I would say that practical experience is key; it’s one thing to know the theory of something (and in the case of thermal styling, it’s invaluable) but in order to offer the best service, you need to have enough practical experience. No client’s hair is ever the same and hands-on experience will ensure you’re able to leave every client happy. Another important aspect to take into account is patience – with thermal styling especially, treatments can run across hours and so require plenty of dedication.
Don’t be put off though – seeing clients reactions to services that are, in their own words, “life changing”, is a real reward. When you have happy clients, it’s a great feeling. Hairdressing can be a very satisfying career to have so if you think you have what it takes to go the extra mile, do so.