Hair Atelier WAVE:
A hair salon's
journey to success
in Amsterdam

Eva is the epitome of a successful and independent hair stylist. From starting her journey in Hilversum, The Netherlands, to establishing herself in Amsterdam, she has successfully built a decade of experience. As the owner of Hair Atelier WAVE, Eva rents a chair in a salon and has created flexibility in her work life. From cutting-edge hairstyles to personalized advice, Eva is known for delivering the ultimate experience. Get ready to be inspired by her story and the unique approach Eva brings to the hair industry.

How did you start your business?

I actually started working in Hilversum, Netherlands. And then worked in Utrecht before eventually coming to Amsterdam. I think I worked in Utrecht for six years and then a year in Hilversum, so seven in total. I have worked for myself in this setup, rented chairs in hair salons during these years. I haven't been a hairstylist that much longer because I did my education within the same company. I worked in a coaching salon before working in other salons. That was for maybe a year, a year and a half. So I've been a hairdresser for around nine years.

It's super! I like the creative part, but also the technical, which can also get creative. It's super social, of course, which I also enjoy. It's a good combination. Though I always say, I don't think I'll be a hairstylist till my pension. I wouldn't manage it physically because it is quite demanding. But, for now, I really love it.

What challenges did you face?

I almost forgot about these because it's been six years since I started over in a new salon. In the beginning, it is always hard finding new customers. And now, after half a year in Amsterdam, I started noticing that people come after 3 to 4 months, five months. So people are returning. That's really nice to see. I had the same when I started in Utrecht. But after a while, you forget about the struggles in the beginning. So I think finding new customers is the most challenging part.

Do you have your own space?

I rent a chair within a small salon. I used to work in a similar setup, but it was a larger company with several locations. We had a booking room, so everything was arranged from within that salon. Now it is a bit more like my own business. I rent a chair within the salon and can use the products, but I can work the days I want and determine how long I want to take for the appointments and have my booking system.

Was it easy to find a space?

I worked in quite a well-known and high-end salon before. So I think that made it easier to find something new. But I also like working for myself, renting a chair. In this case, the salon is less about your level. You can work here, and you have to arrange everything yourself. But as I said, people find it nice that I worked in a well-known salon. And, of course, there is Instagram, which is sort of my portfolio as well.

So I searched "hair salon", "Amsterdam chair rent" on Google and found a few places. Then I mostly felt like, “Okay, this place doesn't suit me”, or “I don't like this place”, or “I don't feel their prices are up to my standards.” I also felt, “This is maybe paying a little bit too much for a haircut.” So it was actually easy. This was the salon I felt most comfortable with. I emailed the owner to see if they were still looking for people and maybe to meet. We talked, and it was like, “Okay, yeah, you could come.”

Using Vev, many of my old customers say, 'Oh, it is really convenient that I can book online, and I don't have to call'

How does Vev help you?

I think most of my customers are still a lot of my old customers from Utrecht or people I helped in the past, but they also moved to Amsterdam. Back then, we didn't have an online booking option. So now, using Vev, I feel that many of my old customers are like, “Oh, it is really convenient that I can book online, and I don't have to call”. For me also, with the booking system for hair salons I can check everything from home, which is super nice. I am still working on my business, and for what I have been doing and how many customers I have, Vev works perfectly.

How do clients find you?

I have opened up my Instagram, which I think most people contact me through normally. I also have a website. This is mainly a place to add more text and explanation. At first I had a few appointments that didn't show up, so no-shows. So then it was a good way for me to add conditions, “If you don't cancel your appointment 24 hours in advance, you will get a 50% fee”, or something like that. So I use it to provide a little bit more context.

What makes clients return?

I always feel people return because they're happy about how you did their hair. But eventually they stick around also because they like you. It's this combination. I had two customers coming in from Hilversum. They followed me through to Utrecht and now to Amsterdam, and I had this conversation with them as well. It's like “We come to you because of course you cut our hair well, but we also like it being with you, the conversations we have.” If one of those two wouldn't be as nice, they would say, “Oh, yeah, we might find a new hairstylist.” But when you find both things in one hair stylist that makes it worthwhile to travel.

With new customers, you never know what you're going to get. You might get a few who you think it's not a match. Maybe that works both ways. So it is indeed about the art you create, the result, but also about the whole experience.

I always feel people return because they're happy about how you did their hair. But eventually they stick around also because they like you. It's this combination.

How often do clients rebook?

That's so diverse. There is this client who comes in every two weeks, but I also have people coming in once or twice a year. If people come for a haircut, I'd recommend it at least every 3 to 4 months for women. With men, it's somewhere between 6 to 8 weeks on average. Women with short hair would come more often as well.

Then, of course, you have coloring. Hair grows one centimeter per month on average. You can imagine with short hair like with men, two centimeters extra is quite long. If people come in for their gray roots, that's also maybe 8 weeks. For highlights, it's maybe 3 to 4 months. It is perfectly fine, but also a personal preference. I also have customers who come in for their cut and color together, but sometimes they come for a haircut in between and then cut and color again. Generally, I think it would be like 6 to 8 weeks for short hair and a haircut, and maybe every 3 to 4 months on average.

I think it always works best with word of mouth and your customers, who promote you to someone else

How do you promote yourself?

I used to use Instagram more, but I also felt it attracted a specific customer type. So, I use business cards that I hand out. In my old salon, if you introduced a new customer, you both would get a discount. It's an incentive for people. In the beginning, I did that quite actively, and I need to start doing that again. At some point, I also tried Google ads, which was fine. I think I got a few customers through that, but also one or two, which I'm not sure if they were the right type for my services because then, of course, you can attract anyone. So I thought, I'm not going to do that anymore.

I'm all over the place, but eventually, I think it always works best with word of mouth and your customers, who promote you to someone else. It's a small salon where I work, located just below houses, where people live. So I think many people walk in as well, not a lot, but a few of my new customers just came in because I'm new here and I have the most availability. So they booked an appointment with me. And that's actually people from around the neighborhood.

How do you keep up with trends?

It goes partially with the fashion industry. In our salon, we used to have this mood board per season. I always feel it can be a trend, but it doesn't mean it suits you. Eventually, you will have to look for something that works for you. For example, at least five years ago, everyone had this gray blonde going on, but it didn't suit everyone. So it can be a trend, but it doesn't mean I will do it more often. And then you have more of the technical developments or trends. For instance, the balayage. I feel social media like Instagram or Tik Tok is the perfect way to look for that.

How I work is you would come in, we sit down and have advice. You say what you are thinking about, what you normally do with your hair, what you like, what you don't like, etc. You need this extra information. So it is not really based on trends but more on what would fit you, how you look, and how you treat your hair. If you say, “I want to go full blonde, but I don't want to come in every eight weeks to color my hair”, then we might have to think about a different thing.

I enjoy this way of working because it's super flexible, and I have zero responsibilities.

What are your future plans?

It's very interesting! Because of the competition clause from my previous contract, I have to work at least a year outside Utrecht, and half a year has already passed. So I'm actually now thinking about what do I want to do?

I enjoy this way of working because it's super flexible, and I have zero responsibilities. I pay for the days that I'm there. So if I want to take a holiday, I'm not paying. It's variable. Maybe business-wise, I would do better in Utrecht because I still have a lot of customers coming from there, and it's easier. Many people would probably return to me, but I also like Amsterdam and the physical distance from my work. I want to continue working for myself, but where and how? Not really sure.

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