It was by word of mouth that I discovered Scout: my regular hairdresser was fully booked through the festive season, my hair was an overstyled, bleach-burnt mess, and so I turned to the Internet for help. A Facebook plea for a new salon was quickly answered by Scout’s devotees, a group forged over just eight months in business. Owner Annabel Kinley says that’s how most business is reaching her doorstep – with clients referring friends, family and colleagues.
Many also followed Kinley when she took the leap to leave her role managing The Powder Room and open her own salon in July last year, after 17 years in the industry.
It was time, she says. “Mum and Dad, all my friends, have been pushing me for years to run my own place. I got to a point last year where I had an amazing Christmas and New Year’s, I threw myself out of a plane on New Year’s Eve, and then my grandmother passed away and I just went, ‘It’s time, it’s time to do my stuff and to do it for me’.”
It was a fortuitous series of events that led to her leasing the tucked-away site – and almost didn’t eventuate: she already had an offer in for another salon in Lyall Bay. But things turned out in favour of the central city spot, which Kinley and a small group of experts and friends fitted out in just 15 days.
“It was completely empty. There was no floor, there was nothing. We just got to work. We built everything on site,” Kinley says. “My boyfriend and I laid the floor together – that was our second date. It took us a while but we got there, and I’m really proud of it. I love the fact that I can look around every single corner of the salon and see something that I did.”
Kinley collaborated with local designer Matt Smith, whose team built the interior, while she completed the painting and staining. She says Smith reined in her preferred 1970s vibe to create a space with a nautical feel, taking inspiration largely from Wes Anderson’s film Moonrise Kingdom. But it wasn’t the film’s scout character Sam who inspired the name – it comes from To Kill a Mockingbird’s child protagonist, who Kinley sees as an inspirational woman.
Kinley is hopeful the salon will continue to grow this year, while she will also be enjoying the freedom of business ownership to take up more opportunities outside the four walls – including weddings and photoshoots.
Right now, she’s still basking in the joy of what she’s created. “I love walking down the alley and seeing my sign. I just want [Scout] to have a chilled-out vibe; that everybody enjoys being here and feels relaxed and feels like they’re getting a good job with good coffee, good magazines and nice people.”