In this edition of The Sybarite's Women Who Launch series we sit down with Elena Lavagni, the Co-Owner of Belgravia-based beauty mecca, Neville Hair and Beauty.
Elena Lavagni is a successful female entrepreneur and visionary. When she joined Neville, it was a small albeit well-respected salon, and has single-handedly elevated it into a one-stop beauty destination for the well-heeled Sloane Square crowd, with an incredibly loyal clientele. Here Lavagni discusses what it takes to be a successful female founder: ‘be strong, work hard, and never give up.’
Q: What did you study, and how did this segue into your chosen career?
A: I initially studied Psychology with the aspiration of specialising in Criminology. However, after getting married at a young age, I put that dream aside. Following my divorce, I unexpectedly found my way into the beauty industry. It's a career that, in my view, chose me. I'm thrilled to work in such a dynamic sector where possibilities are endless.
Q: Why did you decide to work in the beauty industry?
A: I've always appreciated beauty because it empowers you. Beauty is a personal choice, and feeling beautiful is a lifestyle that radiates from within. As a woman, you may not see or touch it, but you understand how it should feel.
Q: When did your work begin with Neville Hair and Beauty, and how did this come about?
A: After my divorce, feeling lost, my best friend suggested I find a job in a joyful environment where I could meet interesting people. I started as a receptionist in Mayfair but found it too claustrophobic. After a successful stint, I moved to Neville as a salon manager.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
A: My day starts at 5am. I begin by reading the news to keep up with current affairs and industry updates. After the gym, I head to the office at 7.30am. Work at the salon is diverse, no day is the same. Currently, we're preparing for Paris Couture Week and managing various projects, including the Amazon Salon in Spitalfields, London, powered by the Neville team.
Q: How has Neville’s evolved since you joined, from a hair salon to a one-stop beauty destination?
A: When I took over, we had six hairdressers; now, we're a team of over 60, transforming from a hair salon to a comprehensive beauty destination with makeup artists and beauty therapists carrying out non-invasive body treatments and facials.
Q: What is the Neville's signature treatment?
A: Our colour services. We have a wide range of colour services: from highlights, to shatush and balayage, palm painting, henna treatments, face framing, and more.
Q: What is it about the beauty industry that continues to inspire you?
A: The beauty industry allows creative expression and the satisfaction of enhancing a client's appearance and self-esteem. The constant evolution of trends, products, and techniques keeps me excited to learn and grow with my team.
Q: What advice would you give to budding female entrepreneurs?
A: Be strong, work hard, and never give up. Clearly define your vision and take advantage of the current societal shift for women to influence and lead businesses.
Q: Tell us more about your partnership with Amazon Salon and how this venture came about.
A: Amazon approached me in 2018, discussing a collaboration to digitise the hairdressing industry. The initiative supports the industry with the launch of the Amazon Professional beauty store, providing easy access to beauty supplies for professionals.
Q: What has been your proudest achievement?
A: My proudest achievements include: substantial growth of Neville, buying our operating building, expanding the team, our consistent presence at global fashion weeks, being the official hair partner of Chopard at the Cannes Film Festival, and launching pop-up salons in St Barth and Mykonos to name but a few.
Q: What current beauty trends are on your radar heading into 2024?
A: 'Skinimalism', environmental consciousness, embracing natural hair textures, and hair accessories to enhance hairstyles.
Q: Neville's launched in the 1990s and remains a London institution, what do you attribute to its success?
A: I believe that our success can partly be attributed to our commitment to continuous evolution. At Neville, we firmly believe in adapting and, when necessary, pivoting to meet the evolving needs of our clients. Our customer dedication is foundational; we engage in active listening, thorough research, and rigorous testing. This approach allows us to create services and products that anticipate our clients' future needs, even when they might not be fully aware of them. We keep moving forward, embracing evolution, placing trust in the power of our team, and fostering a culture of gratitude every day.
Q: What’s next for Neville’s?
A: Excitingly, we have embarked on a significant new venture; producing and participating in six major fashion shows during Couture Fashion Week in Paris. This initiative is a key component of our strategic plan to reposition ourselves in the industry and reaffirm our commitment to excellence in the post-pandemic era. Our objective is not just survival but to thrive, and we are confident that our current trajectory and future plans underscore our ability to achieve this goal.
Address: Neville Hair and Beauty, 5 Pont St, London SW1X 9EJ
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