Emily Moore spoke to Bruno Rodrigues about the journey that led him to open Make Over Salon in Colomberie
VISION, artistry and determination can be a compelling mix – as, one imagines, some of the contractors working on a new hairdressing salon in Colomberie may have discovered to their cost in recent months.
Indeed, as hairdresser Bruno Rodrigues admits as he looks around Make Over Salon’s new premises: ‘I had a vision and, even when people disagreed with what I was asking for, I was determined to go ahead with that vision.’
And some of that drive is apparent from the timescale in which he completed the transaction.
‘I first viewed the space at 5.15pm on a Friday and, four weeks later, I had the keys,’ he smiled. ‘A client, who has worked in the property sector for a long time, said he had never seen anyone buy a shop so quickly.’
But while the transaction may have happened quickly, work to transform the space took a lot longer than Bruno had first anticipated.
‘It was supposed to be a three-month project but, in the end, it took six months,’ he said. ‘It was worth the wait, though, as the décor, combined with the made-to-order furniture, has created the ambience and appearance that I wanted.’
Explaining his decision to use a palette of gold – ‘I want people to feel good when they come in’ – and green, Bruno said: ‘A lot of salons look the same. I wanted a different aesthetic and a combination of colours which created a feeling of luxury while conveying the sustainability ethos which is at the heart of the business, something which is illustrated through the printed wallpaper on the ceiling and behind the basins in the back section of the salon.’
And it was his resolution to be both ‘different and eco-friendly’ that determined his choice of haircare products for Make Over Salon.
‘I first came across Lakmé when I was in Madeira and was inspired both by the quality of the products and by the brand’s green outlook,’ Bruno explained. ‘As well as ensuring that all of its products are vegan-friendly and paraben-free, the company uses recycled materials for all of its packaging. The brand is also committed to helping farmers around the world, taking great care to buy its ingredients from ethical sources and in a way which supports local communities.’
Having been born in Madeira, Bruno moved to Jersey 27 years ago after some personal sadness left him ‘needing a change of scene’.
‘After my parents passed away I felt a need to leave Madeira and see somewhere different,’ he reflected. ‘Initially, I moved to the UK but I felt very lonely there. My sister lived in Jersey, so I came on holiday to see her and, following that initial visit, I decided to relocate here.’
And it was thanks to his sister that Bruno entered the world of hairdressing.
‘I had always loved art and my original plan was to become an architect,’ he said. ‘However, when my mum passed away after being diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t really feel like studying. I worked as a waiter for a while but that didn’t really fulfil my creative side.
‘When I moved to Jersey I visited the salon where my sister was already working as a hairdresser and, as I watched her work, I realised that hairdressing is a form of art. After watching the way in which she was transforming her clients’ appearances, I decided to follow in her footsteps, so I borrowed some money from the bank and enrolled on a course.’
Since then, Bruno has never looked back, opening his first Make Over Salon in James Street 17 years ago. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his love of art, it is working with colour which brings him particular satisfaction.
‘I play with lots of colours,’ he smiled, gesturing to a wall where more than 120 different dyes are on display. ‘So many hairdressers only use basic colours, but I like to work with a full menu so that if a client has a particular vision, I can bring that to life for them. If someone wants something unique, I can mix different colours to create a bespoke shade.’
While admitting that he derives tremendous satisfaction from the artistic side of the job, the father of two says that he also very focused on hair care and health.
‘While I often have a vision for a client’s appearance, it is not just the style itself which is important but also the health and condition of their hair,’ he said. ‘It is really important to use the right shampoo to improve the condition of people’s hair and I will always advise clients on the best solutions and products for them to use in between visits.’
To this end, Bruno was delighted when Lakmé introduced refill bottles last year.
‘Not only are these far more cost-effective for clients who want to use the shampoo at home, encouraging them to use professional-quality products all the time, but the environmental impact is much less, as the 600ml refill format uses 81% less plastic than two standard 300ml containers,’ he explained. ‘This means clients only need to buy one bottle of shampoo, and they can then just top it up at home from the larger refill bottle.’
And encouraging new and existing clients to adopt more eco-friendly habits is just one of Bruno’s goals for the rest of the year.
‘I’m hoping to rent out a couple of chairs within the salon and build a friendly team,’ he said. ‘By bringing in more staff, we can create a real buzz in here with a great atmosphere. I’m also looking forward to bringing in more Lakmé stock. As far as I’m aware, I’m the only salon in the Island using this brand, which is based in Spain, so it’s great to bring something different to residents.’
And Bruno is also excited to be bringing something different to Colomberie.
‘I still can’t quite believe that it’s happened and that the shop is now open,’ he said. ‘There were times during the renovation project that it was very stressful but it’s great now to be here and to be a new business in an area which will really benefit from that newness.
‘Everyone in the street has been really supportive. On the day we opened, when my wife, stepson and son came to help, the hairdresser across the road sent flowers saying “welcome to Colomberie”, which was really lovely.
‘And we’re already benefiting from the footfall in the area. On opening day, people came in within minutes of the shutters going up, so I’m looking forward to building on that and to becoming a part of this lovely town community.’