Features

How did she do that? Loxy’s Kate Jarrett on becoming a small business entrepreneur

Kate Jarrett, owner of Loxy's

In our new online series, Fashion Quarterly editor Sally-Ann Mullin talks to successful women about their careers and how they have got to where they are.

I had heard about Kate Jarrett and her success a number of times in the past two years. She is the founder of Loxy’s, a full service hair salon who specialise in ethically-sourced human hair extensions with salons in Auckland and now Wellington. She has a reputation as an energetic go-getter with a killer smile and when we finally met recently IRL as part of a story for Fashion Quarterly (you can read about it in the current Autumn issue), she did not disappoint. Kate shares her career story below:

Kate Jarrett

Age: 29
Location: Auckland

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Bahaha, honestly when I was very young I wanted to be a bus driver. I loved the idea of being a happy driver when all the others were grumpy. It was cool to think I could have a positive influence on someone’s day. Then after that, I wanted to be JLO because, come on, who doesn’t?!

What single book, film or album has had the greatest impact on you? Why?
This is a hard one. To be honest I’m not a big reader, but I’m obsessed with audio books/podcasts. I’d struggle to pinpoint one, but anything Wayne Dyer has been pretty life changing for me and his way with words really speaks to my heart and clicks for me. I’m big on understanding yourself, why you do things the way you do them, and actively working on changing the parts of you that aren’t conducive to the life you want.

When do you go to bed and when do you get up?
I have a toddler so I always feel the need to try cram in more hours sleep and beat the clock but never actually achieve it. I am generally ready for bed at 9pm (sometimes as early as 7pm – ha, take that clock!), but never succeed at an early night and am busy working in bed, so generally not asleep until 11pm. My daughter wakes me up around 7am each morning.

Who would you most like to be stuck on a desert island with? Why?
My daughter, because she’s the craziest, happiest and wildest little human around and we’d have a blast, just the two of us!

Can you explain your career path to date?
I’m from the corporate world and have had every job under the sun (I got around a bit!) – a typical Gen Y trying to find my perfect job, when in reality it didn’t exist yet. I had extensions myself and although I loved the result, I hated the way they were applied to my hair. Fine hair and glue or braiding just didn’t go together in my mind. When I came across a method that had no gluing or braiding involved I absolutely fell in love. I trained in it, purely as a hobby and never having any intention of it being anything but a cool thing I did occasionally on weekends.

The more I did it the more I loved it and eventually it proved busy enough to stop offering a mobile service and operate from home. I hired a portable cabin for $50 per week and had it dumped on my front lawn. I had to plug it into the house like a caravan for every client and I couldn’t drill any holes in the wall, so it was just this wooden shell with a chair and some pink cushions! At this stage I was 22 and still working in a fulltime corporate job and doing extensions in the evenings and on the weekends.

Business grew and the more clients I saw the more I LOVED what I was doing. Women were coming in and the smallest change to their hair provided such immense confidence for them that I felt so honoured to be able to be a part of that experience for them. Eventually I became busy enough to justify a loan from the bank and the building of a proper studio out the back of the house. My husband and neighbour knocked this up after work over the space of a few months with a beer in hand. At this point I left my day job to commit my time to Loxy’s 100%.

After two years working from home, I was limited to what I could offer my clients because I don’t cut hair. Unblended extensions look fake, tacky and frankly pretty ridiculous. I had the option to train in cutting, or move elsewhere (9sqm is not enough for two people!) and hire someone who was already a pro at this. I made the move to a small villa in Grey Lynn and hired my first staff member Amy, who is still with me today. Within nine months the business had grown dramatically and our ability to offer all hairdressing services really opened us up to so many more clients. One year to the day after I had opened in Grey Lynn, I moved once again and opened Loxy’s on Ponsonby Road. Just under a year after that, Loxy’s Wellington opened and I now have a team of 15 across both locations.

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome, as it relates to your career or industry?
So many! I’d say probably learning to be a business owner and all the many hats that come with it. I’m not even sure I’ve overcome this obstacle yet either! I never set out for Loxy’s to be what it is today, so the planning was never put in place for growth within the businesses processes. As much as our clients wouldn’t see this, behind the scenes there’s been (albeit with great intentions) disorganization, a lack of administrative systems, and a boss learning how to be ‘the boss’, when ultimately all she wants to do is rad hair extensions and keep making our clients happy.

What motivates you?
My clients being happy. That’s all that this is about. This is truly everything to me, and to my team. Without them we’d literally have nothing. Loxy’s was founded off an old school customer service mentality. I LOVE the idea that our clients see us regularly; that we know their kids names, we know where they went on holiday, we genuinely are interested, and we care. It’s not something that can be trained, you either have it or you don’t. And also, my staff being happy. I think because I was that bratty young kid looking for the perfect role all those years ago, I have empathy for everyone’s journey. I like to think that I’m the kind of manager I needed back then, and that I can motivate them all to be their best every day.

What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
That I’d be a legitimate business owner and each stepping stone to getting here is an important one. LEARN MORE! And processes. Set up your business as if it’ll grow, it’s way harder to backtrack and do it later down the line when bad habits have been learnt and there’s no processes in place.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Personally, my daughter of course (what us Mum’s are capable of blows my mind daily – so much respect!) Professionally, I consider my greatest achievement to be where we are today with such strong values. I don’t believe we’ve ‘sold out’ despite having every opportunity to. We’re a conscious business and business with heart. Our clients’ best interests remain our number one priority even over the money they’d make us. That’s been a really hard thing to keep control over especially with so many team members and so much growth in a short amount of time. I am really proud of the conscience we operate with, and the values we live and breathe.

What do you believe has been the key to your success?
Treating others the way you would like to be treated, and doing it with passion. It’s not rocket science. Love what you do, take care, appreciate and respect your clients, appreciate they’re spending their hard earned money with you and do your best, every single time. I believe if you operate this way, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. If you genuinely care, others will see it and you will succeed.

What is your life motto?
Lessons!! That’s not really a motto – maybe every cloud has a silver lining, or make lemonade out of lemons?? I try (sometimes desperately hard given the situation) to make every failure, disaster or horrible situation a lesson for me. I make a conscious decision to do things differently to last time and to learn from my mistakes.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Always do the right thing.

Who do you most admire in business? Why?
Kelly Coe from Augustine is a friend of mine and huge inspiration. How she has achieved what she has in business, has three babies, and looks presentable each day is just unfathomable to me. The mind boggles! She is slaying the business and parenting world and she’s a huge role model of mine. More importantly though, she’s real. She hasn’t sold out, she’s the same person today that she was when she started despite her success.

What do you believe is the secret to success?
Passion – if you’re not singing your own music, or if it’s forced, it’ll never be as successful as it could be.
Good values – operate with honesty, and integrity in all of your dealings with your clients and staff.
Self awareness – know what you’re good at and what you’re not. Don’t try do it all! Bring in people to fill in your gaps.

Who do you turn to when the going gets tough?
My Mum! Then my work wife Katie (the salon’s creative director). Mum grounds me, brings me back to reality, and reminds me that even when I want to be rude, or unfair or just plain old mean (albeit ‘justified’) that I’ll regret that later and it won’t get the outcome I want. She reminds me what it’s all about when my emotions get the better of me. Katie also grounds me, and is the best problem solver I’ve ever met. When times are tough, she’ll come up with the most creative and amazing solution I never could have thought of, and just like that… the times aren’t so tough anymore! And of course, my husband for mopping up many tears over the years.

Oh hay fresh braid by my girl Amy! Weekend ready ✔️ #hairdresser #hairextensions #braid #loxys #loxyshair #weekendready

A post shared by Loxy’s Hair Boutique (@loxysnz) on

What are your favorite traits you are drawn to at work or when hiring?
Number one: A people person with a strong customer service mentality. I love someone who is self aware enough to point out their own faults, we all have them. I love enthusiasm, passion, honesty, integrity and an all-round good values base. I also love people that don’t buy into drama. We’re at work more hours of the week than we are anywhere else, let’s make it a GREAT time people! No workplace cattiness or bitchiness here, fullstop. I tend to hire purely from gut feeling (which don’t get me wrong, has let me down before), but if they don’t have a clear love for client care, they’re not going to work at Loxy’s.

You have already achieved so much, but what’s next for you?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: no more salons! I have never wanted world domination and the fact that I have two salons is already an excuse for me to pinch myself each day and, in the nicest way, wonder what I was thinking haha! I care too much and am too sensitive to be able to handle the pressure and responsibility that comes with bigger business. I never want to forget that little shack at home. My focus now is growing the Loxy’s brand in other ways beyond just salons (but of course still hair related!), and to continue to strive and continue to deliver excellence in both locations. My ultimate life goal is to somehow nail balance between working life and Mumma life, but I’m also accepting that this will most likely never happen!

Words: Sally-Ann Mullin
Photos: Instagram

FEATURED