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Edwards and Co. Byron Bay

From the instantly recognizable street art by Brian Connolly to the Pop and Scot pots, Jaye has added a significant amount of colour to an otherwise stale salon environment, writes Cameron Pine.

Finding spaces that suit the brand philosophy of wide open spaces and perfecting a fitout for a hell of a lot less than what some people splash out on expensive fittings – Edwards and Co. is living proof that by sticking to a philosophy and adding a touch of uniqueness, that anything is possible.

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With the recent opening of the dreamy Byron Bay salon and the next stop Brisbane, Edwards and Co. will have grown to five salons from just one in less than two years. Add on top an education program, a 2016 Hair Expo Best New Salon Design and you have onlookers envious – whether you like it or not, a brand who adapts and adapts fast will always be the most agile.

Jaye grew up in the country in Young – from a very large family Jaye says, “It was all about getting out of there and making something of myself.”

He started his apprenticeship at once known Paddington salon Global Hair and left after 18 months in his lunch break – forever determined and always independent, Jaye knew what he wanted to do and that was things his own way.

It was at superstar session stylist and media salon Torquil Murray that Jaye started to make his mark, going there originally to assist head colourist Cathy Gilbert, with a few breaks in between this eventually led to Jaye buying into Torquil Murray from the two previous owners – in partnership with someone he almost lost everything. “If it didn’t work out that way I would never have started Edwards and Co. I had no money but I knew the only way I was going to make it work was on my own. I was the brokest I have ever been – to the point I didn’t know how I was going to pay my rent,” Jaye said.

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“The first salon was a complete dive but had amazing big windows and natural light – something I’ve stuck to with all of my salons. I put blood, sweat and tears into it – borrowing money from people I hadn’t spoken to in years but now we are celebrating our third birthday.”

Doing clients in between being on the floor in the salon getting it ready to open, Jaye had pulled every favour he could think of.

A solid clientele is not enough on its own to build a business profile as quick as Edwards and Co. With two of his best friends – Byron Turnball and Jade on board with him from Torquil Murray and a host of other media personalities – this really helped push the profile of the salon from day one.

“The biggest thing for me was having Lara Worthington on my team – she really pushed it out for me a lot. I had a business partner for the first three months, Mei Yu – a manicurist but that didn’t last long and I took it all on myself and began to grow through my clientele,” Jaye said.

It was at the same time that Jaye was travelling to Melbourne a lot working on influencers, bloggers and key clients that he started to build a name for himself down there too, so it was only 12 months before planning the Melbourne salon began. It also helped having people like Jasmin Howe from Friend in Fashion and Lisa Hamilton from See Want Shop – mega bloggers to really push the word of mouth in Melbourne and not just Sydney.

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It wasn’t long before Edwards and Co. received coverage in a ‘Best salons in Sydney’ feature with Eleanour Pendleton from Gritty Pretty – first on her own blog and then when she launched Gritty Pretty. Then followed the same treatment in Harper’s Bazaar and Urban List’s ‘Best salons’ and Edwards and Co. achieved more press than some salons that took years to build.

“It wasn’t my vision in the beginning to open another salon, I just wanted one that worked at first but I started to realize with such a strong following in Melbourne that if I’d done it once I could do it again,” Jaye said.

Creating a beautiful space is one thing to master– simplistic yet soothing enough to relax and unwind among, Jaye admits the industrial look can age a little too quickly. With Byron you can walk in and see different colours and textures and natural light is a big thing for all of his salons – it creates a sense of luxury through space and light, “You don’t need to spend a fortune on materials,” Jaye said.

The biggest challenge now is the split and not being able to be in many spaces at once – it really helped team morale when Jaye was going down to Melbourne a lot more but now that he’s not, the challenge is what continues to push him to do more.

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Generally each of Jaye’s salons are split 50/50 between freelancers and company employees, Surry Hills has more freelancers than staff being the first one in the concept but for Jaye it will always be different to other rent a chair salons. “For me everyone needs to be treated the same as an employee. There still has to be rules, guidelines and management to follow otherwise it doesn’t work.”

Edwards and Co. have a tiered pricing structure and the Byron Bay salon still charges around $350-$400 for a cut and colour – a significant amount for a salon in the area but as Jaye says, “We find people are happy to pay whatever you charge if you are upfront about it and aren’t afraid to charge and stand by your pricing.” Jaye also wants to implement internal education for everyone and says it’s the real test for them now to have consistency across all locations.

“Another aspect we want to explore is cross-pollenating with international salons who can use our spaces for education and where I can build more of an education profile.”

Byron Bay has views to the hills and out to Mount Warning, the magic sunset rays of the rainbow region, all offset by compressed concrete floors among a complete new build. Byron has added touches of classic luxe to the minimalist vibe – custom made Tuck Box colour tables that can be moved, pulled apart and used differently when required. A back area and deck in between separates areas of the salon as though you are in someone’s home.

Even though Jaye has a great relationship with his landlords and ‘Simmo’ the landlord in Byron – who also happens to own the NRMA in town with petrol station and mechanic attached (a goldmine!) he hopes to own his own space/s one day. He works a lot of contra deals in – the chairs are from a supplier who will use the space for education. “It’s important to milk contra deals to keep costs down as much as you can. There’s so many new businesses and activities coming here to the industrial estate we can work with too.”

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They also held pop up fashion events and parties during Splendour in the Grass, all in call of bringing like-minded people into the spaces as much as possible – 230 square metres with so much versatility and potential.

Hopefully we’ll grab a few more prized moments in Byron soon to find out what’s next and you never know we may see some of our industry’s big names that continue to work for Edwards and Co. escaping to the creative magic of the region whenever they can.

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