Alannah Read, an owner of the Ella & Jade hair salon

Success story: Ella & Jade

2 Aug 2021 by Kitomba

We recently stopped by Ella & Jade’s newest location in Woolloongabba, Queensland to visit owner Alannah Read and her team. She told us about how she’s working on building her business, the importance of investing in your client experience and team, and her tips for other business owners. 

Hear Ella & Jade’s story in this short video, or continue reading for the full interview below.

Tell us about Ella & Jade and how you got into the hair industry

“Ella & Jade started off as a family business and I started on the salon floor when I was 14. I fell in love with the industry and three years ago I took over the salon from my mum.

I love being part of the industry because I love being creative, being surrounded by creative people, and working with an amazing team every day.

We have two locations: one in Algester and the other one in Woolloongabba that we opened late last year. In Algester, we have a strong localised business as we’ve been there for so long and we have clients travel from all over Brisbane, Toowoomba, and Sunshine Coast. We naturally outgrew one location and it became necessary to open up a second bigger salon in Woolloongabba.” 

I love being part of the industry. I love being creative, being surrounded by creative people, and working with an amazing team every day.

What are the challenges of growing your hair business and how do you meet them?

“My business focus at the moment is on the Woolloongabba location because it’s so new. Client retention and attracting new clients has been the number one priority for the past several months and, as we grow, it will remain the priority, especially over the next six months. 

So right now my main focus is on marketing. That’s different from what I usually do in Algester as it’s been an established business for so long and a lot of our marketing is word of mouth. Whereas moving into a new location we needed to do more. So far we’ve been doing a lot of letterbox drops and working with other local businesses in the area to build client awareness. And once we have them in the salon, our goal is to retain them which is the biggest thing I’m focused on at the moment.”

Wooden sign that says Ella & Jade


What helps you to stand out from the competition?

“We believe in building our team from the ground up and our internal education programme is what sets us apart. The programme sees our staff going from the first year apprentice level to becoming fully-fledged hairdressers. 

We have two internal educators – one at each of our locations – who work closely together to make sure that we deliver the same level of training. When we start working with a new apprentice or a stylist, our goal is to find out their learning styles and their needs. Training is not one-size-fits-all and you need to tailor the training plan to reflect individual styles and needs, especially for apprentices as they train for three years. 

Our programme is all about classics and fundamentals with relevance for today as opposed to the latest trends. Over the years we received great feedback from the industry and so we’ve just launched an external education programme.”

What does success look like to you?

“Success for me comes in all shapes and forms. On a stylist level, it’s when we remove the cape from the client and you see their smile and that they love their hair. 

As a business owner, success is watching my staff grow personally and professionally. We focus heavily at the beginning of the year on goals, individually and as a team. This year we were nominated for the Creative Team of the Year award at the Australian Hair Industry Awards. It’s a success for me because it highlights what the team has done together. 

I believe what makes Ella & Jade salon so successful is the team behind the name. The team comes together on the day and makes the magic happen. I couldn’t do what I do without them. The team and team culture are what makes us so successful.”

Inside the hair salon one stylist is cutting a woman's hair and another is applying colour to a client's har.


A stylist washing client's hair at the basin.


What are your top tips for opening a new salon?

Tip 1: Make client experience your priority

“Experience is everything and so our client experience has always been our top priority. Both of our locations offer premium, high-quality hair, and that’s first and foremost but the salon experiences are quite different. The best way to describe it would be that you can jump on a plane and fly to the same destination, but you can choose a business class or economy, and that’s the difference between our two locations.

In Algester, clients always loved coming in because they felt like they were part of the family. We’re quite heavily connected with the community out there. We send out monthly newsletters and keep everyone updated on social media so that our clients feel like they’re a part of the team.

At the Woolloongabba location, we offer a different kind of salon experience. We offer a full drinks menu, croissants and cheese plates. Clients also get a 10-minute head massage with essential oils. We’ve added all these extras to the experience and it gives you more of a spa-like feeling.”

Tip 2: Keep a close eye on the business side of things

“Coming from a hairdressing background, no one teaches you about the business side of things. I have been lucky that I had an opportunity to learn it from my mum. I spent a couple of years beforehand managing the salon so I was familiar with the back end of everything. But there are things that we don’t deal with every day, and when something happens, we have to think on our feet to fix it or to make it not happen again. Getting your accounting right is a good start!” 

A stylist adding foils to client's hair


A wooden reception with a laptop on top of it


Tip 3: Build a great team

“One of my biggest reasons for taking over Ella & Jade was that I wanted to create a space where everybody grew together. I believe that’s how we can become successful. Providing opportunities and supporting your staff helps in terms of staff longevity and team culture as well. That’s probably my biggest thing: I always focus on team, culture and how everyone fits in. Then, everything else seems to follow!”

I always focus on team, culture and how everyone fits in. Then, everything else seems to follow!

What Kitomba features couldn’t you live without?


“When I was looking at salon software, Kitomba’s biggest draw for me was the reporting system and how you can simplify the reports. As hairdressers, we’re not used to looking at spreadsheets and numbers, but Kitomba makes it easy to monitor staff and KPIs. It’s easy for me to see how many clients rebooked, how many products were sold, and how much revenue we made. It’s not only great for me and my management team, but also for the stylists as they can access Kitomba 1 on their phones.”

Kitomba 1

“My favourite Kitomba feature is Kitomba 1. I love that the stylists can have it on their phones and easily track their KPIs and targets, but it also simplifies the salon experience as well. At the  Woolloongabba location, we don’t have a typical front of house, so most of our point-of-sale is done on an iPad. I love that we can just take it over to our client at the end of the service, and it takes that transactional feeling away.

I love that I can access Kitomba 1 from anywhere. I can be out of town and still look and check in on the business. The access and the flexibility that you have with Kitomba 1 is one of the things I love most about Kitomba.”

Online Booking

“Online Booking is the number one Kitomba feature for my clients. They love that they can jump online and access our booking system, they can see exactly what they had done last time, and then they can just click, repeat and book it in. It’s amazing!

I love how the Online Booking feature allows us to take deposits. For new clients, it secures that appointment, and it makes them commit to coming in. It has also massively reduced no-shows and last-minute cancellations for us.”

Want to find out if Kitomba can help your business thrive like it has for Ella & Jade? Book your free demo where we’ll discuss your business’s unique needs, goals and vision, and what features will help you to achieve your business goals this year and beyond.

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