Tucked away on Tees St in a unique building, bursting with character is Oamaru’s newest hair salon – Estella Hair Studio.
After months of planning, Gabrielle Docherty opened her salon two weeks ago and said the response had been incredible so far.
Growing up in Oamaru, Ms Docherty left to go to Dunedin to study and complete her hairdressing apprenticeship.
She worked at St Clair’s Zaibatsu Hair Art, where she also spent four years in a management role.
“That’s where I gained most of my experience as a hairdresser,” she said.
In 2011, she went overseas, working and travelling around Ireland for a year.
She also gained a lot of experience and insight into the industry as a International Colour Ambassador, performing in shows talking about what was new in colour.
Establishing her own business was always the dream, but she never really knew where she would end up until her year in Ireland.
“Going overseas makes you realise what you had when you were growing up and the simple things that are the most important in life,” she said.
“I felt that I could do something here that would appeal.”
Oamaru has been the perfect place to set up, she said, and she’s looking forward to building her clientele and meeting new people.
“There’s a really good support network for young business people and creative people,” she said.
She’s taking on all aspects of the business herself for now, looking forward to becoming more established and watching it grow.
“I definitely want to grow it for the future, but at this stage I’m just finding my feet and I’m happy doing everything myself,” she said.
It’s been a learning curve, but she’s loved taking the reigns and making the salon her own.
“It’s unique with lots of character, it’s not directly on the main street, it’s something a bit different,” she said.
“I wanted to use a lot of unique pieces of furniture, so I’ve mixed a lot of old with new.”
It’s the satisfaction of people leaving with beautiful hair and feeling good about themselves, that she loves the most.
“Talking to clients, I find that really interesting learning about other people,” she said.
“I’m excited about meeting people. Everyone who has come in so far has been awesome.”
By Rebecca Ryan