Gareth Johnston and Rory Sandilands have owned Blo, a hair salon in Parkwood for 10 years. They recently opened a second branch in Maboneng, where they are excited to be a part of the revitalisation of the inner city. We chatted to Gareth about their new salon.
How did your business start?
Rory and I trained together and then continued to work together in other people’s salons for a couple of years. Rory moved on and I started running a salon branch, but then he called me and asked if I would open a salon with him in Parkwood. That was the start of Blo – 10 years ago.
Why did you choose this area to set up shop?
My wife and I went out in Maboneng one night to the Living Room, and we fell in love with this idea of revamping the inner city. We couldn’t believe the surroundings, and we just wanted to be a part of it.
How did you find your premises?
We approached Propertuity, the developers of the Maboneng Precinct, and they showed us a couple of potential shops. One space was coming up for rent in Fox Street Studios, but we needed double the space, so Propertuity helped us out with convincing the other tenant to move out. They were very helpful throughout the process and did a lot for us.
Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?
They are right in the heart of Maboneng, where everything is happening. There are lots of visitors to the area, especially for the night life, so on the weekend we stay open until 8pm so that we can access that market as well.
Who are your neighbours?
We’re surrounded by great restaurants and bars like Pata Pata, Living Room and Blackanese.
What are the shop rental/sales prices like in this area?
Part of the reason we were able to open a new branch here was the pricing. It’s just a lot less expensive – for the same space in Parkwood we’d probably be paying around three times the rate.
How many people go through your store each day?
During the week, it’s less busy with passing trade. On the weekend, the whole place comes alive and we even get international tourists popping in for a cut and style or to buy products. We don’t open on Monday and Tuesday, and then on the weekends we are open until 8pm, so we get a lot of walk-in customers from people coming home or coming to the area to go out.
Do you have any expansion plans?
We have one or two other ideas that we are considering in the pipeline. There’s a mixed-development hotel on the other side of Maboneng, and we’re considering opening a Blo dry bar in the hotel lobby.
Do you operate online as well?
We have a website: blo.co.za.
What’s your most popular item?
People mostly come for a cut and colour.
011 037 3660
Words: Georgina Guedes | Images: Supplied