Indeed, the beauty industry can be very demanding. But Elena Lavagni’s inspiring story is proof that with consistent work, you can also build your own beauty empire.[/caption]

Neville’s Hair and Beauty is one of the OGs in the London salon scene. From when it first opened in the early 90s, Neville’s is now a glamorous five-floor beauty house serving various clientele – including students, locals, celebrities, models, and even royalty. The salon’s world-class reputation is indeed outstanding, with a trained team of stylists, colorists, and beauticians who are handpicked to deliver the best treatments.

All this would not be possible without the woman who made it all happen: Elena Lavagni, the owner and company director of Neville’s Hair and Beauty.

Her humble beginnings

Born and raised in a small town in Italy, Elena had a passion to travel the world. She eventually settled in London where she studied and earned her psychology degree. Fast forward to after her marriage, first child, and separation, Elena started her first job at the reception of a London salon. But with her motherly duties and a sick child to care for, Elena decided that she needed another source of income.

“I had to come up with something that would help me cover the medical bills”, she says. “In 1998, while working for the hair salon, I created a product business that earnt the salon I was working for £12,000 a week. I sourced a heat tool (straightening irons) from Italy for £11 a unit and sold it £85.”

After this successful straightener stint, Elena decided she’s not stopping there. She took a new challenge head-on: Neville. During this time, Neville was already an open salon with a total of ten employees. Elena saw the potential of the business and jumped right in.

Her hustle to the top

Armed with determination and purpose, Elena worked hard for Neville to earn its place at the top.

While the other salons were incorporating the latest trends into their business, Elena laser-focused her plans on creating a customer-centered beauty hub where women can get all their pampering needs in one place. She recognized that ‘time’ was becoming an increasingly valuable asset, and that people wanted to get as many treatments done in an hour.  Not all clients have a lot of time on their hands, so they go for as much as they can squeeze in, say, lunch hour. Thus, Elena is always on the look-out for new products and treatments that take less time but are still super effective.

Through the years, Elena built a team of hairdressers, beauty therapists, colourists, make-up artists, a marketing department, PR department, and financial department.

“I was determined to make it bigger and better. 20 years down the line and we now run two full-time salons and have 85 members of staff.”

As a salon owner, Elena says that the most rewarding thing is ‘creating a happy team, which creates happy clients’.

“Our team plays a pivotal role in the successful running of our business and I try my best to keep a straight and open relationship with them”, she says. “Spending time with the staff gives them an opportunity to approach me directly with any concerns or ideas they may have for the business. I appreciate when everybody gets involved and this is when we are most productive.”

With her vision of a one-stop beauty shop in full bloom, Elena kept the promise of putting the clients’ needs first. This is actually the essence of Neville’s Hair and Beauty throughout its years in business. That’s why despite all the tasks on Elena’s table everyday, she still makes it a point to check on her clients and her staff.

“As a customer-focused business, I feel it is important to spend as much time as possible face to face with our clients. Over the years, many clients have become friends and team members have become family so it is more like welcoming guests to our home than running a business. New recruits are like children coming into my home and as many are young and new to London I feel I should look after them,” explains Elena.

Staying on top the game

The beauty industry moves at a quick pace, with new products and innovations popping all the time. With this in mind, Elena is constantly working on new projects and seeking new developments to push Neville forward. Continuously providing clients with amazing hair and skin is no small feat.

“A lot of my time is spent research of the next best thing, to ensure we deliver unique, fast and effective treatments,” says Elena.

Indeed, the beauty industry can be very demanding. But Elena Lavagni’s inspiring story is proof that with consistent work, you can also build your own beauty empire.

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