POSTED IN FG Family ON 30 August, 2019
30 Aug FG Church Lane Celebrate 35 Years of Smooth Sailing
FG Church Lane Celebrate
35 Years of Smooth Sailing
Whilst working on a Mediterranean cruise in 1979, Franchisees of FG Church Lane, Kerry and Judy O’Sullivan met aboard The Canberra.
Since opening FG Church Lane in 1984, they have steered the choppy waters of owning their own business together, investing in emerging talent and nurturing a loyal client base.
This August marks 35 years since they opened their salon, nestled on Stafford’s most beautiful street, Church Lane. To celebrate, we spoke to them about what they’ve learnt in their time as a dynamic business and romantic partnership.
Kerry and Judy in the early years of their relationship
How did you meet?
Judy – We were both working on board cruise liners, and in 1979 we met whilst working on the Canberra; Kerry as a Stylist, myself as a Beauty Therapist. I was only on-board for two weeks, so it began as a holiday romance! Kerry then sailed off to Australia for 6 months and we didn’t see each other until the following summer. He came back to Southampton and we met up for the day and then I went and worked on the QE2 for 3 months! Kerry came off the ships and took a job in Leeds, which was nearer to where I lived, in Newcastle-On-Tyne. During the Christmas of 1980 we got together and decided to get married that following summer. We’d known each other for two years but only actually spent 6 weeks together, but luckily it all worked out just perfectly.
Kerry working alongside Pete Dellicompagni at FG Church Lane
How did you become aware of FG?
Kerry – I met Pete Dellicompagni whilst I was at Caulden college and after I did my stint on the ships, I went to see a show by Francesco Group, or Jim Jams as it was then – it was a really good show and I wrote to Pete, asking if there were any jobs going. We met at the salon and I started working for them in May 1981 and I’ve been here ever since.
What made you decide that FG were the company for you?
Kerry – They had a lot of ambition, not just for a great business model, but there was a lot of creative ambition as well, I think that was what attracted me. As soon as I started working for them there were so many opportunities made available to me; we were doing photoshoots and competing in industry competitions and doing demonstrations for other hairdressers at Salon International. I was brought in as Creative Director for all of the salons originally, it was a lot of good fun! The company only had 6 salons back then, so it was a very different job.
I think running a salon is the same now as it was then, we still aspire to achieve high levels on service and the quality of the work we achieve is paramount to that. Nothing of that has changed
Kerry working in FG Church Lane in 1984
What are the main differences between running a salon in 1984 and running a salon in 2019?
Kerry – I think running a salon is the same now as it was then, we still aspire to achieve high levels on service and the quality of the work we achieve is paramount to that. Nothing of that has changed. I do think what we’re a lot better at now is resources, we’ve got access to information that is very useful, the access to training is at a far higher standard now. We also have the support and resources from Head Office on a much bigger scale and it’s much, much better now. It’s why we’re here.
What is the secret to successfully working and living together?
Judy – He’s very unusual in that he’ll accept that in the salon, I’m the boss! I’m the one that all the staff come to, but nothing I say to staff hasn’t already been discussed with Kerry beforehand. He’s very comfortable in his own skin and doesn’t feel at all bothered to say ‘Ask Judy, she’s the boss!’
Kerry – I think the secret is to be very clear on what your job roles are and not to tread on each other’s toes or allow each other to be played!
Judy – Any hairdressing issues, staff know to go to Kerry, but anything else they know to come to me.
We realise that you don’t really get progress without investment, specifically investment in people’s training
The FG Church Lane team in 2019
What do you do that sets you apart from other salons?
Kerry – I think first of all, we realise that you don’t really get progress without investment, specifically investment in people’s training. We do in-depth reviews with staff every three months, so we can assess how staff are doing. We invest in people, funding external courses as well as the internal FG courses. We say to our people “What would you like to do?” if they want to do something, I want three things to happen. Firstly, I want them to really look forward to it, secondly, I want them to enjoy it whilst they are doing it and finally, I want them to bring back something that’s of value to the salon when they return. We then try and monetise it, so we boost the confidence of the clients; informing them that this person’s services and talents are of greater value now, and they will be even happier with the results.
My advice to anybody, would be to equip yourself with the knowledge to run your own business and continue to learn and improve your skills throughout, so that you are constantly educating and bettering yourself
What is one thing you wish you’d been told before embarking on a career running your own salon?
Kerry – When I started off, I had no management skills; I was a good hairdresser but the set of skills you need to be a good hairdresser are totally different to those you need to run your own business. Frank and Pete were very good at quickly employing excellent people who were tasked with teaching us the knowledge that was needed to become better at the business side of running a salon. My advice to anybody, would be to equip yourself with the knowledge to run your own business and continue to learn and improve your skills throughout, so that you are constantly educating and bettering yourself.
It’s wonderful to watch people grow in both talent and confidence
Kate winning the British Hairdressing Business Awards Stylist of the Year
What is your favourite part of your job?
Kerry – My favourite part is when we generate successful people. I love getting behind people and pushing them along; it’s great when we enter competitions and we get good results. We’re particularly proud of the success of our daughter, Kate. She’s always been around hairdressing and worked on salon projects before joining the team officially. In 2008 she finished university and was offered a place on the FG Scholarship scheme, we were very pleased when they thought she was good enough to back. She did her Apprenticeship training in the space of 12 months and she hasn’t really looked back since. She’s been Group Stylist of the Year a few times and she won the British Hairdressing Business Award for Stylist of the Year, which was a very proud Mum & Dad moment for us. It’s lovely to have her as a part of the business and getting to watch her thrive.
Judy – I love being able to see youngsters who come into the salon quite naive and young and in the space of 12 months turn into someone who is a very useful and knowledgeable member of the team… it’s wonderful to watch people grow in both talent and confidence.
Kerry – People ask if we ever get sick of the job, but the truth is, we don’t. We eat, sleep and breathe this. We still really, really enjoy it, even after all these years!
I’ve learnt how important it is to establish a relationship, build it on trust and mutual respect; make it an honest relationship and hopefully you will have something of value that will last – which both clients and staff will embrace
What are your core principles and values and have these changed over the years?
Kerry – What’s changed for me from when I started is, I used to think that people wanted the same things as me and people thought the same way as me, but they don’t! We have learnt that you need to establish a relationship with the people who work for you, and understand what they want and realise that those things may change. We watch these priorities shift as they go through life; usually when they come to us they want to learn how to drive, then they want a car, then they maybe want to buy a house. These are things that incentivise them and as they change, and I think it’s important for us to be aware of that and try to help. Sometimes that means that people want more money, so you need to find a way of getting a greater source of income for them, that may involve some training, usually increasing their prices – which is when I ask them “What are you going to do tomorrow, different from yesterday, when you are going to charge more?” We plan how they are going to sell and promote their training to the clients. I’ve learnt how important it is to establish a relationship, build it on trust and mutual respect; make it an honest relationship and hopefully you will have something of value that will last – which both clients and staff will embrace.
You need to be much more nurturing of the people that work around you and be prepared to constantly grow and develop them… Look at your Apprentices, because that’s where your business is going to be in 3-4 years time
Kerry working behind-the-scenes of a fashion shoot
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own FG Salon?
Judy – Management training is one of the key things. A lot of people think that if they’re a very successful Stylist working in a busy salon, they are going to be able to run a salon, but it’s a totally different skillset.
Kerry – Make sure you have done all of the training you possibly can to ensure that you have the knowledge to run a successful salon business. I would also ask somebody “What are your reasons for doing it?”, doing it to make money is fine, but you also have a responsibility for the people who work in your salon, create a mutual dependency on each other, that is what good teams are built on. You need to be much more nurturing of the people that work around you and be prepared to constantly grow and develop them.
You also have to enjoy watching other people’s success that has been helped or grown by your efforts. You can try and make it all about yourself but that gets terribly tiresome for the people who are working with you! My other advice to people is give yourself some space! Prepare to work very, very hard and to make a few sacrifices along the way. You won’t know how good you are until you experience setbacks, it’s just part of the journey.
Make make sure that you’ve got a good team around you. Be quite clear about what your job is, if you think your job is just about standing behind a chair and cutting lots of hair – trust me, it isn’t! Look at your Apprentices, because that’s where your business is going to be in 3-4 years time.
The ultimate highlight has to be when Kate won her Stylist of the Year Award, I wasn’t just a proud salon owner, I was a proud dad, which made it all the more special
FG Church Lane celebrating at FG’s 2018 Awards
What has been your proudest moment in these 35 years?
Judy – For me it has to be seeing Kate win Stylist of the Year at the British Hairdressing Business Awards! We also won a Silver at TrendVision which was fantastic.
Kerry – We got to the Finals of the L’Oréal Colour Trophy in 2005, which was very special because it was celebrating 50 years of L’Oréal and they held it at Earl’s Court. The catwalk was as wide as a road and it was just like no show I’ve seen before and I’ve never seen since! It was a real pinch me moment of ‘How on earth have we got here?!’ But the ultimate highlight has to be when Kate won her Stylist of the Year Award, I wasn’t just a proud salon owner, I was a proud dad, which made it all the more special.
35 years with Francesco Group is such a fantastic achievement, we are so pleased that Kerry and Judy chose FG as the company that they wanted to grow and work with, we are incredibly proud
ANYA DELLICOMPAGNI, FG MANAGING DIRECTOR
Congratulations Kerry and Judy on 35 Years of FG Church Lane…
Love from your #FGFamily.