Hair and beauty are not the first things that spring to mind when you think of Kuwait. The tiny Gulf state — nestled between Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran — is one of the world’s richest countries per capita thanks to massive oil reserves. However, on a recent trip to Kuwait, Mary Alamine (co-owner of Royals Hair in Sydney) was delighted to find a warm and hospitable people, some delicious food, and most importantly, a refined and luxurious salon scene, writes Tam Allenby.
Mary, who was recently awarded the NSW/ACT Hairdresser of the Year at both the 2016 Australian Hair Fashion Awards and Hair Expo Awards, travelled to Kuwait on behalf of KEVIN.MURPHY to educate and spread the brand to the Middle East. On a whirlwind five day trip, she toured some of the country’s premier salons demonstrating their range.
As an official educator and ‘Platinum Key’ for KEVIN.MURPHY, Mary was enthralled at the prospect of “spreading the KEVIN.MURPHY love to another part of the world.”
“I’ve always believed in integrity when collaborating with any brand and KEVIN.MURPHY is a product and company that embodies my values and the values of my team. Not only is it eco-friendly and animal friendly (PETA endorsed), it’s also a product that actually works and does what it says it’s going to do,” she said.
Stepping off the plane, the first thing she noticed was the heat. “I arrived in Kuwait at night and it was 40 degrees!” No real surprise there – the real eye opener came when visiting the first salon of the trip the next morning, the Brigitte Khoury Beauty Lounge.
“This was like nothing I had ever seen before. The salon was over four levels, one of which was reception, one for beauty, one for hair and another divided into VIP rooms and bridal suites. The salon décor was very modern, clean and polished. The position of this salon was right across from the ocean and you could see these views from each level,” she explained.
It soon became clear to her that the Kuwaiti salon scene was quite ritual and treatment focused, in addition to being very refined, luxurious and customer-service focused. One thing in particular that stood out for Mary was the attention given to quality shampooing.
“They place so much focus and emphasis on the shampoo basin areas,” she said. “Some salons were multi-level salons with shampoo basin rooms taking up an entire floor.”
The trip also dissipated many preconceived ideas that people might have about the Middle East. While all salons in Kuwait are all female or male exclusive — with a distinct lack of unisex salons — she found a strong collection of women to be driving the burgeoning industry.
“Contrary to media opinions, all the women I met were highly educated and very successful… highly-driven women owned many of the salons we visited. Another thing worth mentioning is that some of these businesses were immensely successful when it came to social media with some of them having over 500,000 followers on Instagram,” she said.
Another highlight of the trip was Rola’s Beauty Lounge, hidden away on the top floor of a shopping mall with stunning views of the Kuwait City skyline, which she visited on her final day in the country.
“The team were just as beautiful as the salon and the clients were so lovely. The basins were amazing, with LED lights on the inside of the arched panel that changed colour and also had light, relaxing music,” she said.
As she had done in the days previous, Mary spent time working with the staff at the salon and taught them how to use the products on their clients. Overall the reception to the KEVIN.MURPHY range — both from clients and staff — was fantastic. At every salon, she was impressed with the skill of the salon staff and the friendliness of the clientele.
At Rola’s, Mary was offered to a treatment of her own. “I fell right asleep during one of the best blow dries I’ve ever had. I really felt spoilt and couldn’t wait to tell everyone about my experience,” she said.
After five days of spreading the word about KEVIN.MURPHY and gorging on quality cuisine, both local and international, the only thing left to do before flying out was shop.
“The local markets were incredible- I just wish I had more room in my luggage,” she said. “I still managed to buy bags of goodies but getting back to the hotel and trying to fit it all in was the problem, but I made it happen!”
Mary’s only regret was that she couldn’t stay longer in Kuwait. “Time went by so quickly and it was really sad to leave.”
We think she’ll have to head back to explore even more of Kuwait’s exotic locale and luxury salon scene.
For more information visit kevinmurphy.com.au
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