Renae is in London and spoke to a British beauty helping women value themselves through affordable beauty.
In the first of the series featuring women who inspire other women, Renae speaks to Donia Chrifi-Alaoui who runs 3 of London’s trendiest beauty salons, where some of London’s most famous women can be seen having a manicure, lash lift or blow dry.
The mantra at the first of the salons, Swanky, is simply; “Love Yourself; Swanky is all about you. We’ll make you look and feel amazing! When you walk out of Swanky, you’ll be ready to take on the world.”
At the most recent salon, a new concept, Blow & Bubbles where hair colours and blowdries are the focus with a pampering glass of Champagne, the philosophy is ’empowerment through beautiful hair.’
“I have a corporate background in small to medium enterprises and essentially spent my 20’s making money for other people,” Donia explains over coffee one sunny morning in Notting Hill. “I always worked with men and got to the point where I felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body.”
“My sister, Sophia, a divorced single mum came up with the concept for Swanky, of a one stop shop with luxury beauty treatments as affordable prices, but it has become so much more than that. Our businesses are really about female empowerment. Giving women the space to have luxury treatments at affordable prices but also to give them access to each other.”
The first salon, Swanky, opened in Portabello Road, Notting Hill, and a second soon followed in Kensal Rise. The sisters came up with a new concept in beauty treatments of high-end service, affordable prices, quick treatments and created a setting where women could communicate with each other. Their salons quickly became places where women make new friends.
“We expected the businesses to only attract the local community, but we have a lot of very successful high profile women as regulars, and I can honestly say I am the person I am today because of these women. Women go through a lot in their lives, and by sharing these stories with each other, we learn, we grow and we develop a belief system.”
Donia says when they opened seven years ago, a one stop shop beauty salon didn’t exist in London. “At the time there was a gap for a business using good, natural products, designed for the everyday person. Our business is about quality control. We handpick our therapists, we offer quality services. Women recognise that and keep coming back.”
The sisters have just opened a new concept store, Blow & Bubbles with a new partner, Laurence Vuillemin, where women can have a colour and/or blow dry and enjoy a glass of Champagne at the same time. The feel is buzzy, but relaxed and the stylists are warm and friendly. A signature blow dry is just £30.
“Again, we just saw a gap in the market. Women want to look great but they want to enjoy their hair treatments. We created a salon that is more like the extension of a house, where women can talk to each other or plug their computer in whilst having a hair colour or blow-dry or have a glass of bubbles.
“We have been overwhelmed at the response. Women want to connect with other women , and their time is important.”
The salons are a brilliant place to drop in and have a treatment when visiting London and bookings can be made online.