Interview: How One Edinburgh Salon Owner is Trying to Change the Beauty Industry

We all know that the UK is awash with beauty salons, with more popping up on every street than there are Pret a Manger’s. As a consumer it’s difficult to choose which to go to, but as a salon owner, it’s even more difficult to stand out! One salon in Edinburgh’s City Centre is making waves in the Scottish beauty industry with a manta of self-love, sassiness and a whole lotta surprises in store!

We caught up with owner of ANON Beauty Bar, Kay Barclay, to find out just what makes her salon different.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and why you started ANON?

At the age of 18 I was employed by Estee Lauder as an account manager. The beauty industry had always been of interest to me, but that job really got me thinking about the management side of the business, rather than products and treatments. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I’ve always had the ambition of working for myself. Back in October 2017 I read a book called You Are A Bad Ass by Jen Sincero and something about the book just clicked with me. So when I turned 24, I made the move to open ANON Beauty Bar.

What does ANON represent? 

For me, ANON is about being yourself, the best version of you and feeling confident enough to do that. That definitely involves surrounding yourself with positivity, so we try to make the experience in the salon as special as possible, so that our guests feel comfortable. I have always felt that going for beauty treatments can be stressful when you’re running from hair to makeup to nails across the week and across the city. There’s a need in Edinburgh for a one-stop-shop that puts the convenience and comfort of the client at the forefront of the business. At ANON, we take the stress out of our guests’ lives for the duration of their appointment by providing award-winning treatments in a relaxed atmosphere, with cocktails and treats, and the support of our incredible ANON Beauty team.

How is ANON different to other salons in Edinburgh?

ANON is different because it is ran by somebody who is experienced in all treatments, rather than just one trade. I am able to train my team and consult on their client appointments, adding a further tailored experience for each client. I try to employ across different age groups and genders, so that everyone feels welcome at ANON Beauty Bar. I also encourage my team to think outside the box and train themselves to a higher standard, so that we can cater for all. Throughout Autumn, we’ll be running a selection of MUA classes for customers, one of which will cater to Edinburgh’s Trans community. ANON will offer them a safe space to come and learn from the best, so that they can be their true selves.

ANON isn’t about one type of person and one type of look, we’re educated in our treatments and new to market treatments, and we tailer these to each client preference and their own lifestyle. 

There’s a strong focus on supporting women at ANON – is this something you feel all beauty salons should have?

No – it has to be genuine. People shouldn’t jump on the boss babe vibe if that’s not how you truly feel. I am a female business owner who believes in the future of her staff and in myself. I want to build a positive community within ANON for my team, but also outwit that for my clients and suppliers. For this reason, I support and collaborate with other local businesses – I stock two Glasgow brands who would be considered competitors of ANON because that’s what we women should be doing. Collaboration over competition!

You’re a specialist in pretty much every beauty treatment available – what advice would you give young girls just starting out?

Find your own style and what works for you. You need to do what makes you feel confident and happy, don’t feel that you have to fit in with how everyone else is doing it because then you’ll just be part of the crowd!

And what about you – what advice would you have given your 16 year old self?

I have always been very ambitious and very driven, but I capped that because of what other people said. I would tell my 16 year old self to be vocal, stay strong and keep driving because that’s who you are. You should never let people stifle you, be true to yourself, keep your head down and be proud of yourself!

What are your growth ambitions for ANON?

I always want to tell people about my goals as it holds me accountable, however we have some big things on the horizon that I just can’t talk about yet. However, we will be opening more salons and have a production pipeline in the making to create an ANON imprint across the industry. What this space!

If you were to describe ANON in 3 words, what would they be?

Independent, bad ass and sassy!

Quick fire round, what are the 3 makeup products you can’t live without?

Definitely mascara, brow gel and foundation! MY favourites are the Anastasia Beverly Hills brow gels, Arbonne Cosmetics ‘It’s a Long Story’ Mascara and Skin Base Foundation by Illamasqua. 

Favourite beauty treatment?

I love a spray tan! Simple but effective. 

If you’re in Edinburgh you can visit ANON Beauty Bar on Dundas Street for LVL Lashes, HD Brows, a variety of nail treatments and more, including cocktails, Prosecco and sweeties!

Caoilfhionn Rose

Caoilfhionn is a freelance travel writer who enjoys slow travel and avoiding landmarks in favour of diving into a destination's culture. Instagram: @CaoilfhionnRose

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