From France to Perth, Fashion Week with Balmain and now settled in Sydney. Romain Lambert has had a colourful career in the hair and beauty industry. When the pandemic hit it became tricky to maintain a stable income and he needed to find a solution, quickly. And so, Kawada Hair Studio started on the floor of his spare bedroom. It’s safe to say that Kawada has not strayed too far from its roots, offering hair in an apartment-style salon, complete with a comfy hang-out space to work while you wait. We caught up with Romain to learn more about Kawada, his mission and what’s next.
“I started my journey in the southern hemisphere on the west coast of Oz in Perth. My French name being difficult to pronounce in English I adopted the nickname my dad was calling me as it is phonetic: Kawada.”
Photography by Jiwon Kim
SQ: What is Kawada’s point of difference/mission?
R: Each staff member here at Kawada Hair Studio (KHS) work in a dedicated station picked personally by each of us. Working on a one-on-one appointment space means that we can dedicate quality time to each client, removing the processing time and avoiding being double, or triple booked. It’s professional, but without the rush. Our industry is plagued by past employees going out on their own, into sole trading after being fed up with employers taking advantage of them by overworking and taking all benefits.
At KHS we don’t only focus on the hair factor of our career but also learn about the business part of our industry. It is a challenging task, but we can offer each worker a chance to buy into the equity of the salon and become their own boss while still working as part of our team.
Finally, our biggest mission is to offer opportunities for growth as a professional and business owner and have the capability to employ apprentices to create the next generation of hairdressers.
SQ: How has 2021/2022 been in the hair industry?
R: It has been very challenging. The lockdown has been hard on all of us and especially on people that work with their hands and couldn’t work while being at home. In mid-October 2021 when we were allowed to open our doors again, hundreds of clients wanted to have their hair done on the same day. We were booked up weeks in advance and couldn’t offer services for any new clients!
Even today we are still navigating in uncharted waters, but are optimistic for a better time to come.
SQ: Why did you choose Square to power your business?
R: I remember seeing the little white Square device at a festival a few years ago and thought how good and practical it was to be able to take a card payment from anywhere just by having it connected to your smartphone. So, when I started the studio from home it was the go-to solution for payments. Easy to use and cash-free!
SQ: How do you use Square day-to-day at Kawada?
R: Kawada is an appointment-based salon, we need software that allows our clients to easily book and manage appointments. It’s so helpful that each employee has a login and can use their own device to access Square Appointments to accept, decline or change appointments with ease, wherever they are. They can also use the Square Register at our front desk to rebook and check out clients after their appointment. It connects us all easily and honestly.
We also use Square Register to take payments. Our clients find it very fancy and easy to use, but also immaculate as it blends so well in the salon design that clients don’t even realise we have a point of sale!
SQ: Tell us about the setup of Kawada? Why did you choose to create a relaxed, non-salon-like environment?
R: The original aim of the salon was to create a fully autonomous/self-service environment where clients will feel like they are at home. Helping themselves to coffee and snacks, while allowing us full use of time to do hair. We want our clients to forget their previous experiences at salons where it’s nothing else than a battery of the same chairs and mirror creating an effect of the factory line.
“Kawada Hair Studio is about equality, not only through our gender-neutral pricing but by creating equal boundaries between client and hairdresser. Clients can use our talk/no talk cards while having their hair done and staff have them too.”
Each staff member’s station is reflective of their personality. Clients can sit on the big orange couch, do their work at the big table with a charging station for laptops and smartphones, and enjoy the beverages and snacks available. We also have a bed for puppies, so clients can bring their fur babies and it’s our best excuse to do less work…
SQ: Any exciting future plans that you can share?
R: We would like more salons like us to open in Australia, allowing our industry to grow strong and with equality. The industry as it now creates too many disparities in prices and quality, making clients sit in perpetual discomfort while looking for a new hairdresser.
Want to know more? Read more business stories, plus tips and tricks to action in your business on Townsquare.