16th Oct 2019 in Business
Based in Donegal Street, Hair Friendly has been styling and shaping clients’ hair for 15 years in the Cathedral Quarter.
Owned and managed by Christine Boyle its ethos is not just top quality results for every customer but a welcoming, friendly approach to everyone who walks through the door.
Yet it was a sign from ‘angels’ that led her to open up in Cathedral Quarter.
“I came in to look at the shop I was interested in,” she explained. “There was a book in the middle of the floor, and it had angels on it. I’m a great believer in angels. When I opened the book it had hair in it, all about wigs and hair. And I thought that’s it!”
That was in 2004 and Christine and Hair Friendly have not looked back. But her success she attributes to her sister.
“As part of work experience in school I went to work in a shop, which was horrible,” she said. “But then I went to the salon my sister worked in and I did every Saturday and holidays when I was at school.”
After that experience, Christine headed to a top hairdressers in Belfast’s Royal Avenue at the tender age of 16 before her transition to own and run Hair Friendly.
“My clients come from all around Belfast, so I had to stay in the city centre so it wouldn’t be harder for some people – I couldn’t do that. I wanted to be accessible to everybody.”
And, she has no plan to move: “I want to stay for as long as I can. My older clients get their hair done every week, whereas younger clients only get their hair done when there’s an event or if they need their roots done.”
As well as the ‘regular’ salon work Christine and the Hair Friendly staff also undertake some serious fundraising.
“We do charity work, and shows, so our clients all want to know when’s the next party,” she said. “We’ve done shows in halls and in a Holiday Inn. We even did Moulin Rouge.
“We do shows to make people laugh – it’s not hair, it’s just fun. It’s a little community both in and out of the salon. We’ve a garden party coming up. Everyone’s really looking forward to it. I have a beautiful garden and I want to share it.”
Open to all ages, and while regular appointment can be made via the website or on the phone, there’s no appointment necessary for Hair Friendly.
At the core of Hair Friendly and Christine herself will be the clients.
“I love connecting with people, it’s about being in people’s lives,” she said. “People tell you that you’ve made a difference. I’ve helped get people jobs. She sent me a thank you card with money in it out of her first wage packet. Some clients don’t get out much, so coming here is like an event, an outing.”
And, with that it means Christine has been with clients highs and lows: “You do get to know them well and you often hear about their lives. Yes, I’ve cried – if they get upset then I get upset.”
As the name implies Hair Friendly’s core value is as it says in the name.
“Be friendly,” Christine said. “You have to be friendly. People find it rude if you don’t talk to them when they’re getting their hair done.
“But you have to know when to cut off. I love getting my hair done, the touch, it’s like a massage. However, you need to know who to cut the chat with and when and know the ones who want to talk. You need to notice people’s body language and their personalities.”
It was an ever popular TV show that also helped Christine decide on Hair Friendly for her salon.
“I got the name from Friends, because they sit on the settee and talk,” she said. “And on the hair lacquer it says ozone friendly as we want to be friends to the environment, thus Hair Friendly. Hair and then my personality of course.”
As she contemplates the future, with the influx of students from the new Ulster University campus and growing tourist trade Christine is more than content to keep the salon going and growing.
“I just love it here. I love looking out and seeing that greenery, and I love the cathedral and everything around it.”
And, her ambition is clear.
“If I’ve got my staff, and my door open and my clients, then I’m all good. I’m really happy. My job is great.”
Check out Hair Friendly at hairfriendly.co.uk or on Facebook at facebook.com/hairfriendlybelfast.