"Black women are fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S" said a recent tweet from Forbes. Though we're not in the US, I'm sure it's pretty close – if not the same – here in the UK. The lovely Rita Balogun, is one of those hardworking ladies. As the CEO of Radiant London Salon, Rita’s unique and creative way of running a salon has seen her provide a service that’s second to none. From the one-of-a-kind colouring and weave techniques, to the top notch customer service, Radiant London Salon has already built up a credible reputation in the hair industry and has celebrity clientele such Laura Mvula and Angelica Bell. Recently, Rita and her team celebrated the launch of their new state of the art salons in Bermondsey and Croydon. The Bermondsey branch boasts a fully serviced cocktail bar, which serves complimentary champagne, cocktails and soft drinks. The Ultramodern Radiant Virtual Mirror comes with built in 2000 lumen lighting providing that perfect "radiance" for that bomb new hair selfie. What an experience!
Rita chats with Renee from Out The Box about building this expanding hair empire.
Rita, growing up what were your career ambitions?
Growing up, I wanted to be a singer then I switched to acting which I’ve been blessed to do alongside running the salon.
Even though your mum was the founder of Radiant Salon, did you always see yourself working in the hair industry?
Not at all. I originally had no interest in hair at all, it was definitely a gradual process.
How did you become director of the salon?
It literally happened after about three years working as project manager. I was dipping my feet in it slowly until it just felt like a natural transition, but I certainly wasn’t ready. I was thrown into the deep end but I can say that I’ve been blessed with a team who made the transition easier.
How did things begin to change once you took over?
Alongside Head of Operations, Chanel Brookelyn, we were able to change everything. My mum had a great set-up but we were able to use that as a foundation and build something even greater. We went from a walk-in salon to an appointment based one. We went from no one in the industry knowing us to pushing open every door. We spent detailed time building up our social media and focused on being the best at what we do as opposed to dipping our fingers in everything. By doing those things we were able to set ourselves apart from our competitors.
Were there any challenges? If so what were they and how did you overcome them?
There have been so many challenges. But the key to overcoming each one has been to simply accept that it’s a challenge to learn from and not get stuck in it.
You’ve been very creative with the branding of Radiant London, something that we don’t typically see with many salons. What was your strategy?
Thank you so much! Everything has been about being specific. We brainstormed a lot as a team and always asked the question “What do we want our client to get from this?”
The things that make our salon different are the details and quality. From our images to services we pay great attention to every single detail, nothing goes untouched.
What would your branding advice be to other people venturing out into the hair and beauty business?
Be current but do you. Be specific about how you want your clients to feel, once you figure that out, your plans will be focused which I believe will create a great brand.
Tell me a little bit about the Radiant London team. How did you go about picking the right people?
Firstly, I have been so blessed to have a core team that’s been a huge part of the growth of the salon from near enough the beginning. Our Salon manager Tracy Campbell, has been at the salon for about 12 years and Head of Operations, Chanel Brookelyn has been part of the salon for almost 7 years. Having this team makes it easier to pick more people to join us as the foundation is solid. Spontaneity, ambition and good energy are key things I look for. I’m so random when it comes to ideas, so I need a team that is always ready to take a leap of faith without seeing where we’re going to land.
At just 25, you’ve done amazing things. What would your advice to other young creatives and entrepreneurs be?
Thank you so much. Man, I don’t know how to make dreams a reality, I’m still on that journey of figuring it out but I would say don’t be scared to make mistakes. If you have an idea, do it!
If someone tells you it’s crap but you still want to do it, do it. You are going to have some dodgy moments but it’s all part of your growth, don’t dwell on it. Feel your mistakes, understand it and move on. Balance is very important. Your focus is of course to be successful but try not to isolate yourself in the process. I’m encouraged by my faith, the fact that I know that even though there has been moments when I thought things were going to be awful, God somehow made a way for everything to work out just fine.
Some very poignant advice! You have just opened two state of the art salons, have celebrity clientele and a great brand. What’s next for Radiant London?
More growth. More expansion. We are not even close to where we want to be so we have got to keep going!
Follow Radiant London Salon on :-
Twitter : @Radiant_London
Follow Rita: @MsRitaB