Profile: How Ayanda Soares created hair extension leader House of Hair
Ayanda Soares launched House of Hair UK in 2014. House of Hair UK is London’s premier destination for hair extensions. A top rated London salon, they pride themselves on being the leading experts in hair extensions, offering an extensive range of cutting-edge methods to help their clients achieve their desired look. It specialises in a variety of hair extension methods and offers a diverse range of treatments that cater to different hair types and textures.
After working in the public sector as a social worker, Soares decided she wanted to transform people’s lives in a different way, so she launched House of Hair UK. Launching her own hair salon and business (it also sells hair extensions) was a natural move for Soares, as hair was always something she was good at. She developed an interest in micro links after seeing a friend with them and that was when she started to look into different extension alternatives and trained in two leading installation methods when she noticed a gap in the market for affordable extensions aimed at women of colour. “At the time, I felt like it was just celebrities who had access to luxury hair extensions, so I made it my mission to find out how I could bridge the gap and that was the start of my journey with House of Hair UK,” she says.
Soares’s mission was to make luxury hair extensions accessible for all. She built House of Hair UK while working full-time, advertising the salon on Facebook and Gumtree to attract customers. She also turned to press and influencers, offering complimentary treatments and capitalised on social media as most of the salon’s enquiries came from Instagram and YouTube – both of which are still effective marketing tools to this day. While Soares recognised how saturated the hair industry was as a whole, she believed that there was a gap in the market for luxury hair extensions that came in different textures. “As a Black woman who loved (and still loves) hair extensions, I found it difficult to find hair that was a good fit texture-wise. This is one of our biggest selling points. We hone in on texture matching and providing a comfortable and stress-free experience for all,” she says.
Soares is a trained hair educator, so it was important that all of her staff were trained to provide solid hair education to clients. When House of Hair UK first launched, the salon was targeting people who wanted luxury extensions at an affordable price point. “We knew how expensive quality hair could be. In fact, when we started, we were only offering straighter hair textures because other hair textures weren’t available. The salon’s demographic has stayed the same through the years. We have clients of all ages and we treat a number of hair concerns,” she says.
When the salon opened, it was well received by customers. Soares had posted adverts on Gumtree and Facebook offering extension installations for £100 if customers provided the hair themselves. “I wasn’t prepared for the amount of enquiries that would come through. I even had to ask my sister and my best friend to train. They helped for a few months but went on to work in other industries,” she says. Soares knew that some customers would be sceptical about hair damage, so she wanted to offer them as much information about how the extensions are installed, how they should be cared for and how long they last. By providing a wealth of information online and in the salon, Soares was able to ensure her clients weren’t compromising the health of their hair while wearing extensions.
The salon’s bestsellers are their yaki hair extensions. “Textured yaki hair is hard to get right. I’ve spent years working with suppliers to perfect the quality of the yaki and kinky hair we offer. We use it on our clients and they love it,” she says. In November 2022, it soft launched its flat strand hair extensions, which were well received by customers. The extensions are similar to micro links/I-tip strands but they have a flat finish which gives a more discreet look and allows for the installation of more strands, promoting a voluminous look. “Our customers love these extensions as much as we do. We’ve also received a lot of attention from our followers on social media who have been asking questions about the range and how it differs from other extensions on the market,” she says.
To add value to consumers’ experiences, House of Hair UK ensures its services are reasonably priced. It also aims to exceed its customers' expectations whether they’re ordering extensions online or visiting the salon. To keep her team motivated, Soares offers an array of incentives such as vouchers. As someone who wears hair extensions regularly, she knows exactly what her customers are looking for, which is why she remains involved in the day to day running of the online store and salon, being on hand to guide her team. She also likes to keep informed on what is happening in the hair care space. “Hair growth oils are really popular at the moment, so we’re looking into either partnering with a brand or developing our own range of oils as our customers are asking for it,” she says.
The hair extensions market in the UK continues to go from strength to strength and Soares believes this will continue over the next few years. “I’ve also noticed there’s a shift towards more natural, health-conscious products. Small hair brands are also really popular and I think they will continue to grow,” she says. Her advice for anyone who wants to get into the haircare industry is to do some research and pay attention to what is working for global brands. “Use high-quality products and always appeal to your target demographic. The industry is really competitive right now, so focus on what is truly unique about your brand. Also, be passionate about what you do and prioritise customer service,” she says.
So what’s next for House of Hair? Soares confirms that there are a few plans in the pipeline. “We are thinking about creating grey hair extensions for our older customers and we also plan to expand our online academy globally,” she says.
For more information about House of Hair UK, please visit its website.