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New sustainable and inclusive Wembley Park salon aims to change 'segregated' hair industry

PUBLISHED: 15:38 17 September 2019

Kaye Sotomi and Laure Ferrand, co-founders of Chop-Chop hair salon.

Kaye Sotomi and Laure Ferrand, co-founders of Chop-Chop hair salon.

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Wembley Park is getting a new sustainable and inclusive hair salon - where cuts are done dry to save water and time.

Chop-Chop London is opening its biggest unit to date on Saturday, featuring a space for other lifestyle brands to host pop-ups and even a co-working area.

The salon, which has worktops made from recycled plastic and will use low energy lighting, is the third space opened by Kaye Sotomi and Laure Ferrand, who both come from careers in renewable energy and sustainability.

"We're not from a hairdressing background but we found there was a need for something different in this industry," Kaye told the Times. "It's such a traditional industry that hasn't seen much in terms of innovation. There's very little in terms of minority representation in terms of business ownership, too."

The seed for a faster haircut experience was planted one night three years ago. Laure was telling Kaye how, by the time she finished work, it was often too late to get a hair cut, and how sometimes she would have to spend three hours in the salon if she went on a Saturday.

Kaye, meanwhile, faced a lengthy round-trip from east London to Camberwell to find a barber he trusted with his Afro hair.

"We thought maybe there was something we could do differently."

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After three years of research, Chop-Chop began as a pop-up in Old Street Tube station, before opening a permanent space in Old Street itself. There's also a branch at Westfield in Shepherd's Bush.

"The concept is really about creating a hair care service that's able to cater to the diverse community that London is," said Kaye.

"It is one of the most segregating industries that exists. There are still major price differences between men and women, and between European, curly and Afro hair.

"They are issues that go back to the education available to hairdressers in the past.

"Chop-Chop has a gender neutral price list, and the space is designed so it doesn't feel one way or another whether you are a man or woman.

"We also train our stylists and challenge all of them to learn how to do curly hair, Afro hair or Asian hair."

Another area they set out to change was how long it takes for a haircut. Timings are listed for each style on offer and there's also a virtual queuing app so customers don't have to physically wait.

Kaye said they chose Wembley as it's so diverse.

"We wanted to create something that was really going to set the tone for the future, in terms of what a space could look like," he said.

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