The house promised something more. Every time she drove past it, intuition whispered in her ear, and a dream slowly formed….
For Jenni Spence the house represented a dream, enticing to her to create a beautiful salon, where people could come and be spoiled and nurtured with some of the little comforts from home.
And home is something she knows about. Award-winning hair stylist, single mum Jenni decided to immigrate five years ago. Had she known how hard it would be, she reckons she never would have done it.
Her sentiment echoes those who have returned to South Africa, but five years on, Jenni is transforming more than just looks in her salon in Perth.
Aoki Hair Design's doors opened to only seven clients in the first year. As with most business people, the greatest requirement is persistence, even in the face of awesome challenges. This characteristic is one that Jenni is blessed with, along with passion, perseverance, resolve and diligence; all essential requirements for anyone in business.
“Without the help and support of my parents, I never could have come this far,”
says inspired Jenni, who admits she loves her work so much she would do it for free! It's this great attitude that has powered Jenni through the first years in business to become recognised as an award-winning stylist in Australia and Internationally.
Her enthusiasm is infectious, and while she loves every aspect of hair design, from colouring through to styling, it's not sabona business profile sabona business profile Sabona: June 2007 39 something that is standard in this country. “In South Africa, most stylists are multi-skilled and are able to cut, style and colour and anything else that may be required” she says. “Here in Australia, hairdressers specialise in certain areas, either colour, or styling. They aren't multi-skilled.” This was something new for Jenni to comprehend. And since training an apprentice is a costly exercise, she now insists that those who work for her are able to deal with every aspect of hair design.
What this means is that those who work for Jenni are schooled in the art and the craft of hairstyling, a true bonus for any employee!
Jenni began her career in South Africa at one of the top Hair Salons in Durban. Her talent was quickly rewarded and her move to Australia included offers from Oscar Oscar in Brisbane. Having had these opportunities it's understandable that in the early stages of her business Jenni often questioned why she was doing it. Apart from the art and craft of hair design, Jenni was mowing lawns, pruning roses, doing the books, and making the tea! She remembers having to save her pennies for a sign! “And it was only $220!” she laughs knowingly. For someone who owned a salon with 15 staff members in South Africa, this was a serious eye-opener!
Jenni currently has 5 employees, one of whom is a South African qualified stylist. “Running a business in Australia is hard enough, but the biggest challenge is finding the right staff” she insists. Jenni who prides herself at being “on top of her game” believes you are only ever as good as your staff.
Her favourite aspect of the business is training the young girls and watching them blossom.
She also encourages them to compete internationally in competitions and gain the recognition they deserve.
Aoki Hair Design has been awarded International recognition in the Lakme International Photography Award. One of the best experiences was having a friend come home to announce she saw Jenni's winning entry as an 8m poster in London!
But even with all the recognition, there's something more to Aoki Hair Design. For anyone who has ever longed (and most women will agree with me) for a hair stylist who understands and really listens, Aoki is the place to go. Not only do clients get what they are looking for, but those who need tender, loving care are pampered with rooibos tea and get to catch up on some reading from good old SA, like the Huisgenoot and Femina!