By Alice Ng Wing Yan
Kaye Satomi, founder of the Chop Chop hair salon, considers the future of her industry.
How does Chop Chop cater to the change of gentrification?
Gentrification happens because there is a higher demand for luxury places or the population in that specific area changed. It is more of an economic factor rather than a social factor. So, the social-economic factor I guess is why it happens. Chop Chop can be seen as a process of introducing solutions to this phenomenon. What happens when we think of gentrification? People move into space generally they wouldn’t move to. Why they’re moving there is because now it’s more hip, fun, young. I think that makes sense for Chop Chop because of the increasing demand for space, efficiency and quality. When I think of gentrification, I think about Chop Chop. I think about the movement of people, lifestyle changes, specifically to the middle-class.
What is the new definition of luxury?
Time is a luxury. Time is more valuable nowadays. Time is the highest value of luxury. Saving time regardless of the cost becomes a factor that is more relevant to people than the cost associated with it. We will say: “forget the cost associated to it.”
How do the installations of pop-ups defy gentrification?
When you have gentrification, you have a loss of small businesses. You have the increase of bigger players coming in with more finances. So, you almost lose the authenticity of the neighbourhood and space. People have less struggled to stay in their original community because of increasing services or rental prices. Therefore, the necessity of having businesses that are an affordable quality that cater to both existing and the new tenants are going to be critical.
What is the significance in the choice of store locations?
It has significance because of the changing expectations of consumers, the demanding nature of the 21st-century lifestyle. Convenience becomes a critical part of why people make decisions or why they decide what to do. Therefore, the necessity of having a service of a salon that caters to all hair types where all kinds of people go to is so important. Space becomes prominent. We have two stores in London, one in Old Street, another in Westfield Shopping Mall. In the mall, while people are shopping, they are able to do some of the other benefits there. It is an all-in-one-go.
High Street is more of a lifestyle. Both are similar, but High Street provides what a shopping mall doesn’t, which is the ability to be still outdoor, the ability to interact with other small businesses, find things that are niche and more authentic to the neighbourhood. Again, consumers move to convenience. If they are out-and-about, whether that is a restaurant, dining, or they are going to the gym, heading back home.
What do you think about High Street businesses?
High Street is almost the idea of having a living room. That’s what the High Street represents. The living room is like a High Street for family. It’s about the alignment that High Street provides. It provides a hub for communities to come together and people to gather around. So, High Street in the city almost has the same impact, so does a shopping mall has that same impact, the living room effect. That’s part of the strategies any businesses would be on the High Street. For Chop Chop, it’s even more important because it’s being in a communal-friendly area.
How does Chop Chop differentiate from other salon businesses?
The key differentiator is that we are connected with the reality that businesses have the moral duty, as well as, have the potential for financial benefit by catering for the community. The community that we are talking about is so cosmopolitan and diverse. Hence, the principal what you do becomes more important for the consumers in the 21st century, because they want to align themselves with businesses with good practices and understands what their needs are, what their demands are. They are not motivated by profits but actually have a conscious. So, that gets people connected with brands.
“The failure of not being inclusive is neglecting the original space and connectivity.”
The ability to still keep your route together as you do something becomes so much more important. That is why we are completely different. The industry is traditionally very segregated. We are trying to pull together the whole community that we serve. That becomes a critical space. Also, the staffs that work in that space needs to represent the community we serve, which is typically not the case when you go to some of these salons. If you go to a black barbershop, there are only black people. If you go to a traditional old shop, there are only white people. If you go to Turkish places, predominantly only Turkish people. So, The failure of not being inclusive is neglecting the original space and connectivity.
How do you think about the future development of the salon industry?
Technology is such a big part of it. The app, the social media, being able to connect with people via social media, being able to make a convenient to make a last minute decision. Book for services and come in, it becomes critical. I think that ultimately is where the industry is going to go to. The industry is going to go further and further away from longer-term experiences services to shorter-term value-based services and experiences. Affordability will become critical for the majority of the businesses, but quality as the central stage of the position of what it is that they do.
Featured image courtesy of Chop Chop