Fantastic Females – Roz Colthart, founder of Salon Studios

FANTASTIC FEMALES – ROZ COLTHART, FOUNDER OF SALON STUDIOS

Roz Colthart, Founder of Salon Studios:

Born in Edinburgh and as an alumna of Napier University with a Masters’ in Business
Administration, Roz has spent most of her life living abroad and working for some of
the most influential hospitality companies in the world. Her business journey started at
Disney World, Orlando and since then, her resume reads like a list of ‘dream jobs’!

Roz currently lives in the Maldives working for leading sustainable luxury resort,
Soneva, who are pioneering a trend for back-to-nature luxury holidays. Prior to that,
she worked onboard ‘The World’ – a unique concept where passengers travel the world
from the comfort of their own ‘home on the ocean’. Roz has also been part of the
management team on Sir Richard Branson’s private island, Necker as well as UK
Marketing Director for Malmaison hotels.

Her latest business venture is Salon Studios, a co-working hub for ambitious and
entrepreneurial professionals, headquartered in Corstorphine, Edinburgh. The concept
is a re-invention of traditional salon ownership, providing self-contained, move-in
ready, stylish salons for many different self-employed professionals – hairdressers,
beauticians, chiropractors, nutritionists, dieticians, wedding planners and more.

The business model makes it possible for all independent professionals to run their
own business and make more money without the risks associated with owning a
conventional space – all for the same rate as a chair rental in a traditional salon and
often less. For more information visit www.salonstudios.co.uk

What have you sacrificed (both personally and professionally) at each stage of your career? 

On a personal level it would have to be friendships – as much as I love to stay in touch on FaceTime, etc, you do miss out on the day to day stuff – the minutiae which is actually really important.  Although I do have some great friendships with long-time friends in UK, there are others that have drifted apart sadly. As I’ve started to spend more time in Scotland again over the last few years, I’ve really enjoyed the quality time with my friends here again!  A lot of people expect me to say I sacrificed a husband and children but that was a personal choice, not something I would define as a sacrifice.

Professionally the only sacrifice I can think of was dropping out of Napier when I was 18. I didn’t complete my first degree, but I went back years later and did a Masters of Business Administration (MBA), so that box was ticked eventually! 

salon studios

Who inspired you and why?

As a young Scottish girl watching people like Angela Rippon and Selina Scott read the news when media was still mainly a male dominated industry was very inspiring. They were compelling to watch on screen – smart and confident, but I’m sure these roles didn’t come easy and I can only imagine some of the stories they have from those days!

What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?

So much… but in brief… be yourself, be true to yourself, remember your voice is as important as anybody else’s, make yourself memorable, go the extra mile, stand out (you’ll never stand out by fitting in),  ASK FOR IT – be it a promotion, a pay rise or benefits.  Change your mindset from a ‘why me?’ to ‘why not me’ (more on that later), but most of all BE BRAVE.

Ultimately, everybody else is looking out for themselves and not you, so you have to be your own champion – your dream job is not going to arrive on your doorstep, you have to throw your hat in the ring to stand a chance. 

roz colthart

Do you think women feel intimidated in business?

Yes, not across the board but there are still signs of male privilege.

Where will we find you on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.?  

Walking in the Botanical Gardens and/or Inverleith Park… it’s one of my favourite places in Edinburgh and I’m often there with a girlfriend chatting about life!

roz colthart

What do you love about your job?

At Salon Studios I really love helping people. I love the excitement that comes with it.  Our first salonpreneur left us after 8 months to start her own salon and what a success story that was! When she told me this was her dream and she could not have done it without me or Salon Studios, I really had a lump in my throat.  It was bittersweet because she was a fantastic salonpreneur, so a sad loss for Salon Studios, but great to see her fulfil her dream!  In the Maldives, I love the product (sustainably built luxury villas) and I get to meet a lot of really interesting people.

What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?

Dropping out of Napier and leaving to work in Disney World Orlando when I was 18.  I am in no doubt that this one decision changed my trajectory in life as well as my mindset (I’m a very positive person!). 

Working at Disney was a dream come true for me!  Having written to them for 3 years (these were blue air mail envelopes as there was no email back then!), then finally landing an interview, then being offered a place, there was no way I would let this opportunity pass – I decided Edinburgh would always be there for me. 

What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made?

In hindsight, I don’t think there have been any terrible decisions as such.  The benefit of hindsight is that you see how everything connects and that one decision (even though you may not like it at the time) leads to the next step, the people you meet, etc.  I worked as a holiday rep for a company called Cosmos (I don’t think they are even around anymore?) when I was 20.  That job involved picking up busloads of people from the airport, dropping them off at their hotel and making sure they had a great holiday.  The hours were long, the pay was low, and a lot of people shouted at me because they were unhappy.  I hated it. They also made me work on my 21st birthday so I was very unhappy!  It was really a gap-filler for me while I decided what I wanted to do next.  The only thing I gained from working there was a lot of weight and an extra chin (too many parties!).  

How do you organise your time?

I am an organisational NINJA!  I studied secretarial studies at school, which was looked down on at the time as it wasn’t a real ‘subject’, but it gave me my 120 words a minute touch typing skill which has been such an amazing skill to have. I forget that others don’t have it! So being able to type emails and documents quickly is a great ability to have, but I also love a planner/to-do list. 

I use this excellent program (it’s also an app) called Click-Up and I add everything I have to do on it, so I don’t forget anything…. It has everything from my groceries list to Salon Studios on there.  It’s a boon because when you’ve taken your to-do’s out of your brain it frees that space up for other things. My memory is terrible, so I really need a program like that! I don’t leave things until the last minute as I always think ‘expect the unexpected’ so if you have some free time, get going with your to-dos!

What do you think is your greatest strength?

I would say grit and resilience… I really persevere and I’m not scared to ‘put myself out there’. I tend to roll with the punches; I get knocked down but jump back up and get straight back in the ring usually with a smile wondering what’s next!  

What do you think is your greatest weakness?

I am far too generous and trust people too much.  It probably sounds like quite a nice trait but unfortunately people take advantage of it so it’s something I really need to work on (which is not as easy as it probably sounds!).  My partner is always telling me off, but I just think it’s nice to help others and if you can’t trust people then that’s really sad,  but the truth is there are a lot of people who can and will take advantage of that.

salon studios

How do you make decisions?

From a ‘you only live once/screw it, let’s do it’ position!  I will ask myself ‘what’s the worst thing that can happen?’  Most things you can handle and as long as you know you gave it your best shot, you can’t beat yourself up if it goes wrong. 

What do you read?

A lot!  I’m a total bookworm!  I read, but I also listen to audio books,  I have a few on the go at any one time, right now I’m reading:

  1. The ultimate sales machine’ by Chet Holmes – anybody with their own business should read this book, it’s absolutely brilliant.  Once I finish it, I think I’ll go back to the beginning and read it again as I’m sure there are points I’ve missed, he is a sales genius.   
  2. I’m also reading ‘No Turning Back – The history of feminism and the future of women’ by Estelle Freedman – it’s a subject I’m passionate about and she provides a great insight into the history of this social movement.  The term ‘feminism’ gets a lot of bad press but without all this work, life as we know it for women would look very different.  Our own bank accounts, having our name on a property certificate, our own car and driving license… these are things that we take for granted but were not always possible!  Even now, in England and Wales, a mother’s details and signature are still not included on a marriage certificate;  this dates back to the days of a daughter being the ‘property’ of the father who then hands over his ‘property’ to the husband (this is due to change but it’s a stark reminder of history). 
salon studios

What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you’ve got to?

I’ve approached every opportunity in life with ‘a why not me? And a ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’ mentality.  Somebody has to do these jobs, get these opportunities so … ‘why not me’? 

A perfect example of that would be when I applied to work as part of the management team on Richard Branson’s Island, Necker. I was 26 at the time with 8 years’ experience in hospitality, I saw the job advertised in the ‘BVI Beacon’ which is the local paper in the British Virgin Islands and realized this was a once in a lifetime unique opportunity.  For those who don’t know, Necker Island is the most exclusive private island in the world, so that job would be an amazing opportunity for an average Scottish girl like me… I read the ad and thought ‘WOW!  AMAZING!  I’d love that’, then the self-doubt creeps in… ‘but I’m only 26, I’m too young, I haven’t done that before, this is NECKER ISLAND’ before I quickly changed to ‘well somebody has to get it, why not me’.  It was an extensive interview process, but I ended up with that job!  I was the youngest person to hold that position and it was an incredible experience which then opened doors for other amazing opportunities. Had I approached that with a ‘why me’ mentality, I would not even have sent them my CV!   

I remember being picked up by the Necker boat with all my luggage to move to the island and thinking ‘holy moly, what now?’… impostor syndrome kicked in and I thought they will soon figure out they made a mistake, but it didn’t happen!  My job was not confirmed until I met Richard Branson a week later so I was sure he would see through me, but it was fine!  It’s totally normal to feel this way but you have to be brave and get on with it.  If you take a deep breath and throw yourself in the arena (as Brene Brown would say), you never know where it will take you!

I’ve had so many ‘pinch me, is this real..’ moments in my career because of that attitude.  Many times I’ve had this internal dialogue ‘this is another fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into, so what are you going to do now???’ Laurel & Hardy moments where I’ve been terrified and excited in equal measures!  I once negotiated a sale with Judge Judy and her husband (talk about nerve wracking, not only is she ‘JUDGE JUDY’ but they are both excellent lawyers!) talk about pressure… you do not waste Judge Judy’s time!  I had one night to sort something suitable for her so went home that night thinking ‘you got this, be brave, be confident, dress for success, you will be fine’.  I sat across the desk in my office with the two of them the next day (pinching myself) and it all worked out, she’s a lovely lady – straightforward and no BS – just like Scottish women!

roz colthart
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