In convo with Saks Barney

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Every salon has a story and we love this one.  For the first of our season of Saks Stories we sat down with Simon, Jess and Andrew of Saks Barnard Castle to gain insight into their team vibe and the inner workings of the salon.

Righty-o you three. We love what you do. So let’s go behind the scenes. Nitty gritty please.

Tell us the year that you started at Saks and a thing you remember about that time.

Jess: I was a Saturday girl at 14. Didn’t know what to expect, just turned up and loved the buzz.

Andrew: It was 1996 and – random – I remember serving coffees with an ashtray!

Simon: I started in 1994 at 19 years old. I (kind of) remember going to Ibiza at that time. Oasis were huge, it was a really exciting time to be young.

Feeling supersonic there Si?

Why hair? 

Andrew: Initially it was for overcoming being shy and then I discovered it was something I really enjoyed  and was good at!

Jess: I never started out to become a hairdresser. The vibe of the place and the people changed that. The more I was there, the more I wanted to know. Hairdressing is an amazing job that is very versatile. I love the creativity, the science of hair and the community of working for Saks.

Not in salon. Half an hour of me-time, whaddyado?

Jess: Proper pamper-time… face mask and chill.

Andrew: Watch football with a beer.

Simon. Normally drop my kids off somewhere. Jealous of Andrew and Jess.

Night in or night out?

Andrew: Both. Depends on the occasion.

Simon: Definitely out, I can still party with the best of them but recovery time is much longer these days.

Jess: Love a night out…

Si and Jess standing smart

A thing you love about salon-life?

Andrew: Every day is a different day, meeting different people.

Simon: I’m a people pleaser I suppose, so I love making people feel good.

Jess: Great for socialising. Love meeting new people, finding out about them. Chatting in salon is a great way to find out about new places to go, new music, new foods to try. Around the hair obviously!

Saks Barney salon’s gorgeous btw

Name a best moment

Jess: When I won one of the Saks Apprentice competitions. In that moment I realised that as well as loving hair actually I was good at hair too. A massive confidence booster.

Andrew: Winning a Special Recognition award in 2015.

Simon: When I won Saks Apprentice of the Year in 1994, I’d only been with Saks a few months – couldn’t believe it. It was a real game changer – this was the career for me. I’ve had loads of high points since but this was the best feeling.

You’ve raised £4,838.62 for The Eve Appeal through all sorts of activities and a big fundraising ball. Any plans for 2022? 

Jess: I’d like to organise something big again. The Headlam Hall Ball was hard work but so much fun, and I learnt a lot – from organising the venue and menu to arranging a photographer, live band, auction and more… raising £1,950 on the night. We’ll be going bigger and better for Eve. We’ve done all sorts – Make Time For Tea parties in salon, Tough Mudders, hiking challenges… it’s very important to do our bit and give something back.

Serving up tea, coffee and gynae-chat

All-time hair icon and why?

Andrew: Vidal Sassoon – the first in the industry to look at shapes and haircuts! Revolutionary.

Simon: I admire people who completely reinvent themselves and always manage to pull it off flawlessly and start new trends. Got to be David Bowie and Madonna.

Jess: Saks’ creative director Luke Pluckrose! I love his way of working and thinking differently about hair and how he just makes things happen. Always amazes me when we’re backstage on what he can create.

Man with the hair plan

Exercise is…

Andrew: Football.

Simon: The gym.

Jess: Walking. I love living in Barney as we are surrounded by gorgeous countryside and it’s easy to get over to The Lakes.

Fave holiday destination is…

Andrew: Cyprus and Seahouses.

Jess: Love a city break. Anywhere – I’m easy.

Simon: Portugal. Absolutely love it, we have been going for about 14 years and the plan is to buy a home there where we can spend half of our time once we retire.

That time when Saks Barney was the hair partner for the Catwalking: Fashion Through the Lens of Chris Moore exhibition launch show at Bowes Museum. Tell us how it felt to be part of that.

Jess: It was surreal and amazing. It was crazy how this huge fashion event – just like London Fashion Week – was at The Bowes! Somewhere that I’ve spent loads of time and  Saks Barney was the chosen backstage hair partner.

Major. Fashion. Moment.

Andrew: It made me feel proud to be a part of something like that, being as it was in Barnard Castle.

Simon: That was an honour to be part of and definitely a high point for the salon. I did the organising but Jess ran the show on the day.

Styling by Saks Barnard Castle team at Bowes exhibition

Behind the scenes

Jess, you’ve worked a lot with Saks’ creative director, Luke Pluckrose. Spill.

Jess: The best thing about Luke is that although he is Saks’ creative director he is a proper team player. Very understanding and down to earth. Even though he styles A-Listers such as Kim, Kendall and Chrissy Teigen!

Creative styling by Jess

Sum up your Saks journey in one word…

Jess: Evolution.

Andrew: Rewarding.

Simon: FUN.

Saks Barney’s ethos is to…

Simon: Work hard. Play hard.

Andrew: Make every customer feel special.

Jess: Yes, we want every person to feel their best and to have a very good time while they’re in!

Trust us we’re hair experts

And about The Boss. Do tell. Simon is..  

Andrew: Focussed and supportive..

Jess: A control freak. Which sometimes makes life a little hard but he has been and still is a father figure to me. He loves what he does and is an inspiration. That’s enough of that though as his head doesn’t need to get any bigger, hah.

And Simon (singing) we’ve come a long, long way together … tell us a Saks Story from back in the day.

Most are not to be repeated! OK. I remember going to Nottingham for my first Saks party. I was a young lad from Winston, still wet behind the ears, I stood there as everyone started to arrive looking ultra glamorous. It felt like I was part of something really special. Really important.  Then a guy from Saks in Sunderland, Neville, made his entrance, in full drag. Not even a thing now but back then it was a real “OK you’re not in Kansas anymore” moment.

Saks at L'Oreal Colour Trophy in 2000s

L’Oreal Colour Trophy. Always a great after-party

LOVE the way you work it – you’ve brought Jess and Andrew through and they’re now part of Saks Barney’s management team, involved in taking the salon forward. How did this become a thing?

I suppose it’s always been a thing. I was the junior at Saks Barney and worked my way up to owning a salon. And for the salon to remain current and relevant I will need to get out of the way and let other people have their turn.

Saks Barnard Castle has been my life’s work and it’s important to me to leave a legacy when I’m done. I am working on other projects now and it’s great to know that, when I’m ready, I’ll be handing the reins over to the next generation to keep the Saks flag flying in Barney.

You three. xx


Choose to open a new hair and/or beauty salon in a location of your choice. You can even takeover a Saks salon with existing customers and team (or even open Beauty in the same location as a Saks Hair salon), or convert your salon to Saks. And you may be surprised at how easily we can make it happen for you. Get in touch and we’ll chat it through.

And we’re always looking for stylists and therapists to join our teams. Browse current vacancies. here.

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