Happy BIG birthday Saks Aberdeen!
Every Saks salon has its own personality that helps form our overall Saks brand vibe. And there’s a big beautiful personality and presence in our Saks salons in Aberdeen.
To mark 21 years of Saks in the Granite City, we sat down with owners Audrey and Philip and manager James to chat on how they’ve rocked 21 years with a whole load of team nurturing, creativity, awards, big fun and happy customers along the way.
KEY TO THE DOOR
You three. Tell us about when you opened the first Saks Aberdeen salon.
Philip: Non-stop as we still had our other business. It was really Audrey and James who set Saks rolling in Aberdeen. I was running three Post Offices and a newspaper shop that also supplied papers and magazines offshore for the oil rigs. I’ve been self-employed pretty much my whole working life.
LA LA LA…
“I just can’t get you outta my head…” Kylie was number one. Any thoughts on the hair of the day, James?
James: Gareth Gates and Will Young were the first Pop Idol finalists. Legally Blonde and the first Harry Potter were both huge. For hair, Christina Aguilera’s ‘dirty do’ is springing to mind – best not go there!
Audrey: Online shopping had just started and the internet was The Thing. We chose hairdressing for our new business as we figured it was internet proof – don’t have to be genius to work that one out.
Philip: We considered every conceivable business out there and always came back to hairdressing, I mean, how hard can it be?
WHY CHOOSE SAKS?
James: Saks chose me. A friend’s mother ask if I would meet up with a couple who were opening a salon and wanted a chat about bringing Saks to town. After several meetings and a visit to Saks HQ to meet the team and Andrew Barton, I jumped onboard. Next, Tracey Gallagher came up for the week to teach us Simply Saks – a great team-builder for a newly formed team – and then we opened! I’ve never looked back and love everyday I’m here.
James: We always think of our customers – making them feel welcome and providing beautiful hair – it’s the Saks way.
Audrey: I think we are known for our training, and we always have a long list of apprentice applications. That’s all James’ domain and he’s helped a great many hairdressing careers. This may sound boring, but we care for our team and are sensible (not the usual hairdressing vibe) but it builds respect, and our teams know we don’t stand for any nonsense.
Philip: Love it when the salon is flat out and everyone is busy making customers feeling better about themselves. When a customer tells you what a good vibe we have and they love their hair – can’t beat it.
James: Training the next generation has always been a great passion which I never tire of. I say ‘the trainer always learns more than the trainee’. Teaching and passing knowledge on – both parties can learn so much.
We have a talented team who inspire me every day and wow me with their creativity. I’m very proud of our team and also of some of our previous staff who’ve gone on to enjoy great careers after receiving a brilliant start with us.
We’d say you’re kinda renowned for your parties as well…
Audrey: I’m saying we’re sensible but we’ve have had some amazing parties – got the photos to prove it – not to be printed here! Our house has held many a riotous night and everyone is welcome.
Philip: I think that is one of the main reasons I wanted the salon – so we could party. The team keep us young although some of us are find it harder to keep up with the young ones. No names – you know who you are.
James: Saks Aberdeen has partied all over Europe having a ball in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Gdańsk, Dublin, Paris, Birmingham, Newcastle, Edinburgh and London on several occasions. It’s team building obviously.
James: Me-time helps me enjoy my salon life to the max. I’m busy training three dogs for competitions and working them through the winter months. Also a keen gardener, outside most nights through the summer until after dark in the garden and greenhouse. Crazy but I love it. And I also love cooking, baking, cake design, the lot.
GENERATIONS OF LOVE
James: I’m lucky to have had many of my customers since day one – they really do feel like family. I’ve been there through marriages, new arrivals and loss of loved ones with them. Just as they’ve lived through many of my life experiences.
ICONS OF TODAY
Philip: I think we don’t need to look any further than Saks’ managing director Skee. He’s always available when you’re seeking advice and help. Cheers, mate!
ON THE RADAR
We love your social feeds. Just saying.
Philip: Socials are major for any salon that wants to be successful – engaging with customers and celebrating our team’s achievements. We’re grateful to our principal stylist Hanna whose help with content creation and running the accounts is invaluable – thanks Hanna!
Hanna DMed us: “Over ten years at Saks and couldn’t see myself anywhere else! We’re one big, weird, happy family! A&P are amazing bosses and do everything they can to get you where you need to be, in work or out of work. And James made me the stylist I am, really pushing me creatively. A huge thank you – here’s to many more years with my dysfunctional Saks family!”
Saks Aberdeen salons have raised £11,900 for The Eve Appeal – sum up some activities…
Phil: Doing a 10k Beast run at the grand old age of 59 and surviving was an achievement.
Audrey: “Ah – the Big Bakeoff at our house!”
James: One of my most amazing experiences was jumping out of a plane for The Eve Appeal. Still makes me smile – I’ll never forget that.”
#ILOVESAKS ABERDEEN… PAMELA’S SAKS STORY
We asked Pamela White from the Aberdeen front of house team to tell us her Saks Story.
Pamela: “In April 2013 I returned to Aberdeen after living in Germany and went job hunting, on foot with my CV in hand. I dropped it off at places I had a good feel for. Saks was my first choice so with my fingers crossed I popped in.
[ Liking your style ]
The atmosphere was great with lots of smiling faces. Audrey then contacted me to have a chat – said nothing at the mo but to sit tight. I knew it was where I wanted to be. True to her word, I then got the call to start in June. Nine years later and I’m loving it – no two days the same. It’s great when new customers become regulars and regulars become friends.
[ LOVE this saying Pamela, we may nick your copy ]
Audrey and Philip are very fair and all team members have the opportunity to grow – development is always encouraged. They are open to ideas from us and include us whenever possible. I love seeing the progress in the team members’ careers especially when assistants become stylists and just keep on climbing the ladder.
The social side is great too…
[ AHA. Knew you’d get to this ]
Ask Philip about the local comedy night we went to! I was also lucky to do the Barcelona and Gdańsk trips. But the fact that we are like a family is the best bit. The support we got during the pandemic was second to none and our Zoom meets with a glass in hand kept us all laughing. The treasure hunt was something different – but Guess The Baby – the less said about my chubby face, the better!
For me the saying ‘when you love your job you never work a day in your life’ is true at Saks. Thanks A&P, Saks was worth the wait.
THIS HAS BEEN A PLEASURE
Happy, happy birthday to our fab Saks Aberdeen family. If you’re in Aberdeen and you’ve not been in yet, find Our Faces at Union Square and in the David Lloyd club on Garthdee Road (open to non-members too).