Brick Lane is up market these days – a long way up. If you still think of it as quirky and earthy, you’ll be surprised by the premium prices which are now a feature of the area.
Cereal Killer café offers bowls of cereal for a minimum of £5. And now Not Another Salon are charging hundreds of pounds for a hair appointment. Cereal cafe was the target of an anti-gentrification march. Will they be marching against a hairdresser’s this time? Or has this area already been ceded to the new gentry of young, urban creatives?
I sent two reporters to investigate Not Another Salon to identify whether this business is justified in charging their prices, or whether the buzz of Brick Lane has gone to their heads… and then to their pockets.
Jasmine McRae went undercover as a customer to check out their sought-after services, and to discover what Not Another Salon could do to go above and beyond like their prices.
A video of Not Another Salon on Brick Lane went viral on Facebook earlier this year for its unique and adventurous colour technicians, salon décor and beautiful hairstyles. This surge in interest has generated a huge amount of success for the salon, with customers expecting to wait up to 3 months for an appointment with the salon director, Sophia Hilton.
The salon champions its #ANTIFACTORY policy, they don’t believe in judgement, and Not Another Salon makes a point of differentiating itself from other hairdressing salons. But does this warrant the price tag?
To even speak to a hair stylist, there is a waiting period of around a week for a fifteen-minute consultation, which can be booked over the phone, online, or in the salon itself.
My appointment came around quickly, and I went back to Brick Lane for my consultation a week after booking.
Harriet, who was warm and friendly, led me over to the stylist chair. The consultation experience itself, although very quick, was professional. I had initially asked them to do “whatever they thought would look good”, but was told that they wanted to do something customised for me. Harriet asked me about my lifestyle, my job, my hobbies, my interests, and wanted to ensure that whatever she created would be able to be maintained after I left the salon.
We decided to go for a vibrant pink, which would melt into pastel pink through the lengths of my hair. It sounded exciting, and very doable, despite the dry and damaged condition of my hair. Harriet explained what she would use to minimise hair damage throughout the process, and that she’d even send me home with little pots of dye to keep my pink hair looking freshly done. This goes above and beyond the norms of other salons.
Despite the fact I hadn’t been offered one of their famous loose-leaf teas or flavoured popcorn I went to the till to book my appointment. “So the appointment will cost £280, maintenance appointments after that will be £250, and I’ll need to take £100 deposit to book you in today”.
East London today is facing vast changes. Flat buildings are being renovated, and big brands are setting up shop in what was previously one of the city’s poorest districts. Not Another Salon. seems to fit right into this.
After declining to pay the £100 deposit and £280 fee for my new hair, I gave Foster London Hair And Beauty Salon a call. Also a premium salon based in Shoreditch, this salon quoted me “around £180” for the exact same treatment I had been offered at Not Another Salon. The Painted Lady Salon in Shoreditch, a quirky vintage independent salon, quoted me £145 and offered me an appointment for the very next day.
While it is true that gentrification activists certainly do have something to shout about when it comes to the rising prices for every-day services in East London, residents who are struggling to keep up with the changing costs should research alternatives for a more affordable price. East London is one of the most diverse, creative and expressive areas in the country, and every need can almost certainly be catered for at an affordable price, if we are willing to hunt around. Even pink hair.
Reporter Lauren Chancellor decided to speak to previous customers to identify what makes people travel to Brick Lane to pay these high prices. Has Not Another Salon created a brand that gives added value. What else are they providing customers with?
Amongst the hustle and bustle of Brick Lane, the holy grail of professional hairdressing has set up shop. Not Another Salon offers an alternative salon experience inviting customers to find a hairstyle that expresses themselves and challenge today’s social norms.
Not Another Salon has generated a huge amount of support through their Instagram page pulling in over 110K thousand followers. With many people visiting for vibrant colour changes others choose Not Another Salon for their attention to detail and knowledge about hairdressing. With the customer’s best interest at heart, it’s important to staff that their clients are well listened to. I spoke with Emma –Jane Pane, a mum who visited Not Another Salon with her daughter who was “in need of a boost”. She told me that “they really listened, and everything was done to make sure her hair was her choice”.
Emma commented on the “welcoming, fun and inspiring” atmosphere where neither were judged for their lack of hair knowledge or their “previous attempts at home dying”. Despite being one of the more expensive places to get your hair styled, “they understood and agreed a plan that suited her as a person, instead of selling selling selling.” Now, I know what you’re all thinking, there has to be a catch. So the prices aren’t exactly ‘cheap’. But we all know what you pay is what you get with things like hair and beauty. By no means are they student friendly, but let’s not be fooled by the increasing pressures of paying more for menial things.
It also seems that Not Another Salon are committed to maintaining the health of your hair. Upon leaving Emma’s daughter left with a treatment to prepare her hair for future bleaching. Customers that take the plunge with a vibrant hair colour are also given pots of hair dye to help maintain the colour until their next appointment. worth the price tag yet? We sent someone to help us decide.
As well as receiving outstanding customer service on behalf of her daughter, Emma was made comfortable in a private waiting room full of board games, free drinks and magazines, she added “As a mother of a customer I was treated amazingly”.
Needless to say, Not Another Salon go above and beyond for their customers, in hopes that they’ll make a swift return to the chair.
photo from @divahollands instagram
So here we have mixed reviews for the offerings of Not Another Salon. Shopping around can secure you a cheaper price. Does the beckoning of board games and flavoured popcorn warrant another £100? For some it seems to be worth it.
You makes your choice – and you pay your money accordingly (if you can afford it).