Aberdeen hairdresser Ross Hume may have been laughed at by some of his friends for wanting to cut hair when he was younger.
But now, the 31-year-old has just opened his own hair studio on Aberdeen’s Rosemount Place and business is already booming.
The Duchess welcomes both male and female clients for a wide range of hair services including colouring, blow drys and styling.
But there’s a twist – The Duchess is a freelance hair studio with each of its self-employed stylists attracting their own clientele.
Ross believes this gives The Duchess its vibrant, friendly atmosphere which sets it apart from other studios across the city.
“I want The Duchess to be a self-employed studio that looks like a high-end salon,” Ross explains.
“It’s not every man for himself – we’re all self-employed but there’s still a team-like bond here.
“It’s a very friendly, open studio.”
With his father being in the Royal Air Force, Ross lived in many different places growing up.
He spent three and a half years in Gibraltar embracing his love for football and remains a keen Newcastle United and Aberdeen FC fan today.
However, with hairdressing also his mum’s passion, Ross began following in her footsteps towards his own career path.
“I left school and went straight into hairdressing,” says Ross.
“I was 15 or 16 at the time and I got a job at a local salon when we were living down in Salisbury.
“Around six months into it, I was getting a bit of stick from the boys for doing it, so I left and went to do carpentry and joinery at college for a year.
“I couldn’t deal with the steel toe caps and overalls! So, it was back to the salon for me.”
After a few years more training, Ross came back to Aberdeen to work with the now closed Toni & Guy salon where he refined his craft for a further six years.
Lockdown brought significant challenges upon the hair and beauty industry, but for Ross, being a husband to his wife Jade and father to his two-year-old son Mason made him re-align his career goals.
“Certain things changed [during lockdown] and it felt like the time for me to make the move and go self-employed,” says Ross.
“It’s always been the dream to have my own shop. But everything in life – kids, house, wedding, all the rest of it comes first.
“It might have been an uncertain time, but I felt like it was the best thing for me and my family.”
Ticking all the boxes
The community feel of Aberdeen’s Rosemount area is something that Ross has always loved.
After losing out on an initial studio space, when another popped up just across the road from where his mum first trained as a hairdresser on Rosemount Place, it “ticked every box.”
“My uncle was the contractor and his team managed to do the full re-fit of the space within four and a half weeks which was just incredible,” says Ross.
“The first week was all a bit of a whirlwind. I was expecting something to go wrong, but thankfully nothing did!
“It’s been phenomenal since then.”
Having only been open for six weeks, male and female clients have been flocking to the hair studio with bookings made weeks in advance.
Safety has been a priority though, with lateral flow tests encouraged to be taken before visiting.
For Ross, he’s delighted to see his vision for The Duchess come together so quickly.
“The business plan originally covered me working in here for the first eight months on my own,” he explains.
“But we’ve now got six stylists renting chairs within the first six weeks of opening, which feels like a testament to how good the studio looks.
“It’s also testament to what we were trying to achieve – the most amazing space at a price that’s affordable for people to work in.”
Ross adds that this freelance dynamic is central to The Duchess’ ethos.
“All our stylists’ bookings are made through people getting in touch over social media or WhatsApp – everyone works however they work,” Ross explains.
“We’re able to suit ourselves in terms of what time we open, what time we work until, whether or not we want the weekends off or not.
“This space gives us all full control over our lifestyles.
“I think the easiest way to sum it up is that people used to have a work life balance.
“However, going freelance, it’s more like a life work balance. This now works around our lives.
“For me, the difference from being employed to self-employed in this industry is just day and night.”
Up and rocking
As well as looking to create more hairdressing training and education opportunities within Aberdeen, maintaining The Duchess’ success is Ross’ aim for the year ahead.
“I feel like we’ve hit the year-end target already, so I just want to maintain and sustain that,” he says.
“I want things to grow slowly, because it’s so important to get one location up and rocking first.”