Health & Beauty

Feeling Zen

Crowned Best UK Salon and winning Therapist of the Year at 2019’s prestigious BABTAC awards, Edinburgh salon group Zen Lifestyle reopened their doors last week. Owner Fiona Fowley looks back on two decades in the industry and keeping a business at the top of its game

Fiona Fowley, founder of Zen Lifestyle in Edinburgh

Spotting a gap in the market. I’d just come back to Edinburgh from Sydney, where I’d worked in an Aveda spa. They were just leaps and bounds ahead of us at that point. I noticed salons at home were still closed Sunday and Monday, were generally only open until 6pm and felt quite dated. I opened the first salon in 1999 in Bruntsfield, offering a ‘sanctuary in the city’ with late opening hours. The second salon and Skin Clinic opened in 2011 on Hanover Street.

Standing out in a competitive industry. We invest a huge amount of time into training – not only educating staff on treatments, but how to communicate and listen to clients properly. We also get feedback from the whole team so we’re creating a positive, encouraging work environment and helping people to further their careers.

Zen’s Hanover Street salon

Keeping up with consumer demand. People want results instantly now, and often quite dramatic results. The treatments celebrities are getting are so influential within our industry, so we stay fully up-to-date with the technology and different machines coming out, so we can make an educated comparison and see past the branding and celebrity endorsements.

Offering treatments with a difference. We offer a wide range of treatments, but regardless of what you’re coming in for – whether it’s a pedicure, facial or IPL ­– you just don’t want to feel like you’re on a conveyor belt. We’re quite generous with our time, so we never rush clients in and out. It’s such a busy, stressful life and we want people to feel relaxed.

Focusing on what’s important. When I started up 20 years ago, the market wasn’t flooded the way it is now. You’ve got to fight a lot harder for your clients. What hasn’t changed is that people still want to unwind and feel good. A machine can’t beat a really soothing massage and the power of hands-on.

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