STORIES FROM SAKS CHESTER
Next up in our series of Saks Stories…
Our superstar Saks Chester salon owner Nikki Hughes has won the coveted Franchisee of the Year Award **FOR THE THIRD TIME** running at Hairdressers Journal’s British Hairdressing Business Awards. Winning once is a huge feat but winning it three times means she’ll be inducted into HJ’s legendary Hall of Fame and awarded with yet another trophy at the 2023 BHBA ceremony. Clear a space in that trophy cabinet Nikki!
Nikki is no stranger to awards, winning a Special Recognition award at Saks Gathering in 2022 and 2021 for her dedication to the Saks network, her customers, team and the wider hairdressing industry. So, without further ado, let’s hear Nikki’s Saks story…
So Nikki… where did your Saks story begin?
I started working for Saks Cheshire Oaks in 2004, I was moving back from living in Germany and wanted to work for a well-established and successful company to continue my career. Very quickly my franchisee saw my dedication and passion for the industry and in 2006 I went into partnership of Saks Chester.
What took you to Germany?
I got married at 20 and went to Germany because my husband Carl, was in the army. When I moved there I was offered a job with Vidal Sassoon Hamburg, which I turned down because the travel each day was more than I wanted to do. I moved there to be with Carl and travelling would take away from that so I worked in a small army salon. Alongside some amazing, inspirational hairdressers who became lifelong friends, together we made the salon exceptional. When I’d done everything I could there I moved back to UK so I could drive my career to the next level.
I started my career with Andrew Collinge. He’d just won British Hairdresser of the Year when I joined as an apprentice. The basic training was brilliant but when I reviewed the industry after living in Germany, Saks was offering the best training opportunities and was passionate about moving with the times as well as customer care so I thought Saks was a better fit, and I’ve never looked back.
What has been the highlight of your Saks career so far?
It has to be winning the British Hairdressing Business Award this year. Winning this award for the third time, means I go into the Hall of Fame alongside so many amazing hair icons and it represents all the years of hard work from my team and me. It felt and still feels like a dream, I’m living on a cloud right now.
When I left school, I wanted to make money but also wanted further qualifications to stand me in good stead for my future, so I looked at apprenticeships. I looked at engineering and hairdressing and decided on hairdressing because working in a award-winning salon with a great reputation really appealed to me. My school was against apprenticeships, but my dad told me to “choose a job that will make me happy, cos you spend more time working than doing anything else”. I love looking after our customers and making them feel their absolute best.
Where does your competitive streak come from?
I was always brought up to just do my best in everything, so I don’t know how to do anything less. It’s never about beating someone else it’s just about doing ever task to the best of my ability.
As part of our national charity partnership you’ve raised over £3700 for The Eve Appeal for gynaecological cancers so far! Tell us… we all know you love a chat; how hard was the sponsored silence?
It was awful! It was SO hard. Our job is all about communication so to not be able to communicate through speech was traumatising for my team and me…however I think my customers quite liked it LOL.
Any plans for The Eve Appeal for this year?
Yes, the team and I are planning a big charity walk around The Wirral, date TBC.
Who are your Saks besties and how do you support each other?
I really do feel I could turn to anyone in the Saks network for support as well as everything we get from Saks HQ. But if I’m having a bad day, it would be Paula Wood (owner of Saks Knutsford) or Claire Denyer (owner of Saks Kingshill), and it’s normally just to speak to someone who knows all the specific challenges of running a small business.
Night in or night out?
Normally night out but I’ve been so busy lately it’d be a night in… however both would be dumped for a holiday!
Tell us about being a spokesperson on BBC TV and Radio…
I did a short interview on BBC Merseyside about the isolation room I created during Covid lockdown. I did it so when the salon re-opened customers who wanted to could have their hair done in a room on their own, helping them feel even more comfortable and safe. BBC Radio 5 Live heard it and ask me to join them for a short interview. After I did that, they said they liked how relatable I was as a business person, so invited me back as a quarterly co-host. It was just like having a chat with friends about current affairs, it’s always nice to keep up to date with events outside our industry. It was early morning and there was no cameras, so I could do it in my pj’s which is a bonus.
Motorbikes? What have you got, what do you love about it?
At the minute I’ve got a Kawasaki ZXR400 Ninja, I bought it as an investment, but I just love the noise and smell of the engine – for me it’s like listening to your favourite song!
What’s next for Saks Chester?
To win a team award at the British Hairdressing Awards.
She came, she saw, she conquered. Amazing what can be achieved as a Saks salon owner, with the support and friendship of the Saks community and the Saks HQ team.
We get the feeling there’s more to come from this one.
INTERESTED IN OPENING A SAKS SALON?
If you’re interested in converting your salon to Saks or are a stylist or therapist wanting to take it to the next level, browse opportunities at Saks, enquire or give us a buzz on 0845 678 0290 for an informal chat.