How Additional Lengths Started - Our Interview With Victoria
Award winning entrepreneur, brand creator, product innovator, industry leader and extension & replacement specialist, to name a few…it's fair to say Additional Lengths Managing Director and creator of Remi Cachet, Victoria Lynch has lots of experience in the hair industry. This year will mark her amazing 30th year in the industry. Do you want to know how it all started? The team sat down with her to tell her story…
Where It All Began
Creativity and an interest in hair has always been a part of Victoria’s life. When she was 13, she started perming her Mum’s hair which then quickly turned into highlighting it. This gained more and more attention to her work which resulted in a family friend asking her to braid their foster daughter's hair, who was of West Indian Origin with coarse hair. Victoria would braid her hair every Sunday evening before the new school week. When they had a visit from a family member, they brought some synthetic weaving hair from London for the young girl and Victoria was asked to weave this in. Thinking about how this could be done, she set her fingers to work and this created word of mouth within the community. With no Google or Youtube to rely on for information, Victoria spent a day thinking and teaching herself how to do it and her family friend was overjoyed with the results. This then led to an interest in her doing her own hair…
Before leaving school, Victoria had a great reputation from doing her friends and family's hair and in order to do this, she had to find a supplier to provide her with the weaving extensions she needed.
At 14, another family friend who had connections in Leeds and Bradford offered to take her to source the products she needed and she found a great little store in the Bradford area that she established a brilliant relationship with for many years.
When she left school, Victoria was working her part time job on a morning then spending her afternoons doing hair. She soon had a 6 month waiting list and she had changed the spare room in her parents house into a salon.
By the time she was 18, Victoria was researching and learning all about adding Human Hair extensions to her services, and the rest is history.
But as hair extensions were becoming more popular over the years, she knew she wanted more, so after 11 years of hairdressing she decided to aim for the next level.
The Start Of Additional Lengths
“I had previously been in an accident at the age of 18, that left me with some lower spinal injuries and my constant manual work impacted my health. After treating myself to a holiday, I had to rethink how I would like to continue with my career and work solely for myself and not be in any other employment. So, I invested £5,000 to set up the business.” Victoria also started to research her own supply and manufacturers, using all her savings on her first order of wefts. She also received an interest-free £1,500 start-up loan from The Prince’s Trust and her little salon also became her office space to create packaging and flyers on her PC using Microsoft Word.
Additional Lengths was born on 2nd June 2003 after just 6 months from Victoria having the idea.
This was a time before social media, the Internet and payment methods such as Paypal “I didn’t have the world at my fingertips, something that makes things so much easier nowadays”. So, she headed to the library and used their Yellow Pages to get the details of hair salons covering up to Newcastle and down to Sheffield, that may offer new services like hair extensions and posted them a leaflet. “I remember sitting at my desk on the first day of business waiting for the phone to ring. IT DIDN’T! I started telling my hairdressing clients that I was selling hair and knowing how people love to gossip, word soon got around on a local level. My first order was from a local salon and I was over the moon, I even delivered it personally. I still remember what they ordered – a 14” human hair weft at £15.50 inclusive of VAT. A sale was a sale, regardless of value and back then it was priceless to me.”
Whilst setting up her business she also ensured she had plenty of qualifications behind her including completing training courses in teaching, completed her levels 1, 2 & 3 in hairdressing and took part in business courses at the local University. It doesn't stop there, she also travelled abroad to complete hair replacement training.
As the time went on the calls started coming and the business was growing, although slowly but surely. “It was then the end of the business's first year and the turnover was £14,000. This was a large value for the industry we were in at the time where hair extensions were nowhere near as popular as they are now, perming was still huge and it was a time where highlighting wasn’t done with foils, but caps. I didn’t take a wage from the business for the first 12-18 months and put every penny back into it to enable more stock to be purchased”, Victoria explains.
The Business Grows
“With the arrival of my son in 2005, I moved out of the office/salon/spare room from my parents and opened my first shop later that year.” Passing trade helped the business significantly grow and 3 years on, the business moved again to a prime location in Stockton town centre.
Fast forward an amazing 19 years and the business has just continued to grow organically, without any outside influence or investment. With the store still in Stockton, the brand has increased its online presence showcasing a brand new website in November. Remi Cachet was also born in 2013 which is its own brand of luxury high end hair extensions and a website for trade accounts to purchase from, with Additional Lengths remaining specifically for consumers.
It doesn't just stop at extensions; both brands also cater for a number of needs, supplying haircare products and styling tools across top name brands including “Remi Cachet” with its own range of aftercare products.
Overall, the business now has over 20 staff across the store, head office and “The Salon”.
Some Words Of Wisdom
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s not been easy and I had some really bad experiences in the early years, but you can’t let these setbacks get you down. In the early days, hair that did not meet the quality was used and sold as training hair or as a buy one get one free offer so that I could regenerate some money to buy more stock as replacement. The relationship we have with our suppliers now is very strong and they know the quality we expect. We would rather delay hair delivery or have no stock, to get the quality right.”
Victoria further explains “Anyone who runs a large, successful business they started from scratch, knows and understands the sacrifices that have to be made to achieve what you have. The continued success and love for the brand is what continues to drive me today and I have never forgotten where I started or where I come from.”
She continues “More so now, I realise after all these years that you should never forget about yourself, make sure to take time out. I sacrificed a lot over the years and on some occasions that has come back to bite me. But, once that realisation hits, I can finally say I am enjoying the fruits of my labour. The blood, sweat and tears were worth every part of my journey as well as the opportunities I have had to travel the world and meet new, like minded people along the way.”
Finally, she ends on an inspiring note that everyone should take on board “Never chase the money, chase the dream and success, everything else will follow naturally and you won't lose any sleep! Every ounce of sleep and energy is needed to run and operate any business, no matter it’s size. Nine to five jobs just don't fit into an Entrepreneur's life at all, so investing in yourself is possibly the best advice I can give to anyone setting up or going through the motions of day to day business life. But, the support you have from those at home means anything is possible.”
Victoria’s story is truly inspirational to everyone, make sure you follow her journey by giving her Instagram a follow.