FINGLAS TRAINING CENTRE
Part of CDETB (City of Dublin Education and Training Board), Finglas Training Centre is one of the facilities around the country delivering the National Hairdressing Apprenticeship, a QQI Level 6 course, which involves students learning both in college and in a salon environment. While the centre was proud to have produced many newly-qualified hairdressers over the years, it was some time since its salon had received any sort of a facelift.
“The original décor and layout in our salon had become old, tired and not fit-for-purpose,” explains hairdressing instructor Patsy Russell, who runs the Finglas programme. “We wanted something that was brighter, bigger, more open and efficient, and with easier access to all the necessary teaching and salon equipment. We also wanted to considerably expand the work space itself.”
Russell and the team opted to use the services of Gainfort Salon Design. “We initially made contact with Michael Gainfort to brief him on what we wanted done,” she says. “We explained to him that as a non-commercial training salon, we needed a space that met the very best industry standards, and could comfortably accommodate 14 hairdressing apprentices. It also needed plenty of storage space, be streamlined, bright, modern and efficient, and the refurbishment had to be completed within two months.”
From a practical perspective, the two-month time frame was crucial as Russell didn't want the students' college time to be impacted in any way. “We chose July and August to have the refurbishment work done since the apprentices were in their salons for on-the-job training during the busy summer months. This meant there was, in fact, very little disruption and the apprentices were met with a beautiful new salon on their return to college on the last week of August.”
According to Russell, it was the planning stage of the project that took the longest. “Behind the scenes, a lot of time and effort went into budgeting for the refurbishment,” she says. “Once the project was up and running, choosing the layout, furniture and colour scheme was reasonably straightforward and didn’t take too long as we already had an idea of what we wanted. We were happy to leave it in Michael's capable hands and confident he would provide us with a perfect turnkey solution.”
With extra work space for the apprentices being among the main priorities, central to the practical work in the Finglas Training Centre was the removal of a wall. “We got rid of the one that was separating a very large reception area, and this added more space to the salon floor,” explains Russell. “While the size of the reception area was reduced, it remains quite big and open, and includes a modern reception desk and a beautiful hanging light, which adds a touch of glamour to the salon entrance.
“We also have 14 individual styling stations, 10 of which are on island units; six modern, comfortable backwash basins; and lots of storage space. And because we have an entire wall of almost floor-toceiling windows, we have excellent natural lighting, which is ideal for photographing models.”
'Once the project was up and running, choosing the layout, furniture and colour scheme was reasonably straightforward and didn’t take too long as we already had an idea of what we wanted'
Russell, the team and all the apprentices are very happy with the new salon. “It is a pleasure to work in a bright, spacious, well-fitted salon that is both trendy, but understated. A stand-out feature for us is the Olymp Colourcare Centre. It is finished in black and silver, and has floor-to-ceiling storage units. It is also backlit, making it a really attractive, yet functional feature.
“We also love the new artificial lighting, which is easy to work with when carrying out any hairdressing service, particularly when colouring hair.
“Our apprentices now enjoy coming to a salon that is bright, modern and uplifting. They have plenty of space to work, and are proud of the environment where they learn.”
SARAH MASON PROFESSIONAL
With over 25 years’ hairdressing experience, Sarah Mason trained and worked in her native Dublin, before moving to Galway with her family in 2011. She continued to work in a number of salons there, before opening her own business in 2016. Located in Foster Court in the city, Sarah Mason Professional has steadily built a reputation, attracting a strong local clientele, as well as many other clients who travel from as far as London and New York.
“My salon interior has always played a huge part in the building of my brand as a whole,” she says. “It is a representation of myself and my business, and one of the ways I market my services. It is very much connected to my business’s identity and ethos, and the client base I attract.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, I really had to think about that ethos. Moving forward, I felt it was important to always give the client a reason to come to the salon, as part of our ethos is that we offer an experience.”
As her business remained closed during lockdown, Mason began planning the project in 2020. “I originally intended to move premises, but my gut instinct told me not to do it,” she says. “I had bought tiles already, so I just started from there and did a full redesign based on the print of these tiles.”
The tiles in question came from Best Price Tiles in Ennis, Co Clare and Mason says she fell in love with them the minute she saw them. “Navy and gold have always been the colours of my brand, but it was time to bring them from the walls to the floor.”
When it came to the practicalities of the refurbishment, Mason was aware it was a big job. “The word drastic comes to mind!,” she says. “I closed the salon in September and we pulled back all the ceilings and floors until we were left with a shell, which I called my blank canvas. I was very lucky as I had my brother-in-law working alongside me on this project. I changed plans a lot of times within a time frame of three weeks!
“While it was stressful, I stayed on top of it. I was on site every day, managing the entire project. I am a bit of a control freak and I had my own vision, so if anyone had a suggestion, the answer was just no! I like clean lines and very little fuss, and one of the things I really wanted to achieve was a clear space that keeps our vision wide open, so that as artists working on the salon floor, our creativity could shine through.”
Mason says that she chose to do the refurbishment in September because this was a month that was generally a little quieter. “Over the years I’ve noticed that September is not a super-busy time for us in the salon, with many clients catching up on holidays or dealing with back-to-school expenses. I also thought it would be an ideal time because it’s right before the festive season. It was a little daunting closing the salon for those weeks, but I knew it would be worth it in the long run.”
After buying her tiles in Co Clare, Mason got her furniture back home in Galway. “I always try to support local, so I sourced all my furniture through our local wholesaler The Hair & Beauty Company, who I have done business with for many years. All my mirrors came from Glass & Mirror Designs, a local glass company, who I’ve also worked with many times.”
Mason says she couldn’t be happier with the finished project. “I get the most wonderful feeling when I drive past and see my name over the door, and look through the window at this beautiful salon. Seeing it makes me feel so proud of all I have worked for with my team. I love all the storage that we have created, especially our big island where we meet and greet our clients, who all absolutely love it as well.
‘Refreshing my salon has really given me a new lease of life, both creatively and in business’
“I have seen proof of how things change when you refurbish your space – it has certainly brought new business our way. Refreshing my salon has really given me a new lease of life, both creatively and in business. It has also really boosted the morale of the whole team, as we all work together in this new space that we love.”PBHJ