Welcome back to our blog series, Lovely Small Stories, in which we ask small business owners lots of questions, because we’re nosy and we think you might be too. Have a read of our previous posts with Full Court Press Coffee and Good Fabric.
If you haven’t heard of Hairy Jayne yet, it’s time to get to know this Bristol based small business – they make sustainable hair care products that are vegan and cruelty free, and made with naturally derived ingredients.
Super duper passionate ex-hairdresser Jayne also makes sure the packaging they use is eco-friendly too – it’s all either plastic free, biodegradable or refillable, as well as reusing packaging materials wherever they can. If that wasn’t enough for you, they also plant a tree with every product sold.
A disclaimer – Hairy Jayne is one of our loveliest small business clients. Studio Cotton works with Jayne on her marketing, coming up with monthly actions for her website, as well as assisting with social strategy and creating fun emails.
With our encouragement, she’s started her own Q&A style blog series with other sustainable brands, called Sustainable Stories. Check out the first article with eco candle makers Hazel & Blue.
1. Why did you start your small business?
I started my small business as a progression on from freelance hairdressing. While I was freelancing and no longer working in a salon I had some new-found personal time to study and do some short courses – I love a short course!
I began experimenting with aromatherapy and candle making, and then discovered a short course in making hair care and that was it – it all took off from there. I was really interested in making natural products that were eco friendly, effective and fragranced with essential oils to sell to my clients.
2. Tell us about your background before Hairy Jayne
I actually studied graphic design, and started out my career post-university in advertising – I hated it. On the side I dabbled in freelance work designing flyers for friends to keep me sane.
When I was made redundant from my job (a massive relief) I decided on a career change, and followed my dream of becoming a hairdresser. At the ripe old age of 26, I did three years of training in some big salons in London and then worked as hairdresser for many years, going out on my own as a freelancer in 2008.
3. How did you come up with the name of your small business?
The name of my business came to me when I was actually still hairdressing and coming home covered in other people’s hair. I also liked that it rhymed with Mary Jane, as I used to wear shoes in that style when I was training.
I’ve been told that Hairy Jayne is very memorable or funny, but some people just don’t get it. But that’s ok, they’re just not my customers.
4. What is your personal favourite product, and why?
My favourite product changes all the time as my hair changes colour, length or style. But my favourite fragrance of the products is always Musk. It’s the heaviest and most ‘exotic’ of them all – some people can find it a bit much, especially if their scent vibe is more citrussy or ‘green’, but I love it.
I have a big soft spot for anything with patchouli in, and the blend is neroli, vetiver and patchouli. I named it after my favourite childhood sweets from Australia because it reminds me of them.
5. What’s your bestselling product, and why do you think it’s so popular?
My bestseller is always the shampoo bar. It’s popular because it is the least wasteful of all our products, as it has only paper packaging and is waterless. It has also won some awards, which always helps.
It’s great that shampoo bars are becoming a thing. A few years back they were definitely not, and were seen as soap rather than solid shampoo. As far as sustainable products goes, it’s brilliant that they are seen as more equal to traditional shampoos.
6. What’s the loveliest thing someone has said about Hairy Jayne, that still makes you smile now?
Years ago, I was interviewed by Oh Comely magazine, and the article described Hairy Jayne as a “hair care fairy”. I loved that because I was a big fan of the Flower Fairies as a kid.
7. What’s the loveliest part of running your small business?
The loveliest part of running Hairy Jayne for me is getting to be creative. There is always a list of tasks that need doing, the ingredients that need to be ordered and other boring admin, but I love the parts where I’m problem solving. Or taking images for the website or social media. Or designing products and labels for the packaging.
I try to get the boring stuff out of the way first so I can fit in some creative time at the end of the week.
8. Tell us about a significant turning point that positively impacted Hairy Jayne
Sounds weird because it was such a strange and stressful time for everyone, and I don’t want to make light of a truly awful situation, but during lockdown the business really flourished.
Two months before lockdown was when I started out as a client with Studio Cotton, signing up for monthly marketing meetings. So I think with more people at home internet shopping and Aime’s help with doing some actual proper marketing, things took off in a good way for the business.
9. What’s a terribly unlovely thing that you’ve experienced that might have had unintended positive consequences?
Occasionally, I’ve been in a situation where I could no longer get hold of a certain ingredient or component for making a product, which is both stressful and frustrating when it happens, involving a lot of panic and a lot of time frantically googling to find the thing. But it always works out ok in the end, and sometimes leads to a newer and often better direction for the product.
A recent example is the Hairy Jayne refills that we send in the post – at the beginning of the year, I started receiving a lot of customer emails reporting that they were leaking in the post (and all needed replacing). Just when I thought I’d cracked it with replacing the packaging them more securely, I’d get another email. There was no apparent reason for why they were leaking all of a sudden, they’d been absolutely fine until now! So frustrating.
10. Sing the praises about of organisation or professional that helped you on your small business journey
Apart from Aime, as mentioned above, Sinead of Crafty Fox Market was a Hairy Jayne supporter from very early on – the first ever craft fair I did was with Crafty Fox. Sinead is a great champion for makers, and has built up a wonderful community through her brand. She has put on many inspirational events with speakers, and provided many opportunities for selling.
11. Tell us about a step you’ve taken to make your small business more lovely
12. What’s a lovely thing you have planned for the next 12 months of Hairy Jayne?
I am the worst person to ask about long term plans, but I do plan on experimenting with formulating more. And hopefully coming up with a new product or two…
13. As recommended by Hairy Jayne
We asked Jayne to recommend 3 podcasts, blogs or Instagram accounts that she’d recommend to other small business owners…
For light relief for a minute or two after sending serious emails.
For small business motivation and inspiration (and she has great hair).
Off Menu and the Adam Buxton podcast
My go-to podcasts for listening to while doing boring, repetitive tasks.