Good news for the ladies of Marlow and the surrounding areas: this week a new luxury hair and extensions boutique with a unique personality and offering opens its doors. Komao is a boutique that sets out to offer clients a more personalised and pleasurable experience than they may have become used to.
We sat down with founder, Debbie Reed O’Connor, to find out the story behind Komao and to ask what makes her boutique so different.
Hello Debbie, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Maybe you could start by giving us a little background on how you reached this point in your journey?
Of course. Well, from a very young age I loved messing around with hair and make-up. Leaving school at 16, I started out in hairdressing and I also studied wig making. I got all my qualifications, then moved into Beauty to broaden my experience.
Over the years, I’ve worked in a barber’s shop, hair salons, beauty salons, I even had my own hair salon in the side room at home when my son was growing up. But I’ve always had a dream of setting up my own hair boutique – an intimate place that’s truly personal and caters for the needs of the individual, rather than a large salon which can sometimes feel a touch impersonal.
And tell us about your interest in hair extensions, which forms a big part of your new venture?
Yes, it really does. My interest in hair extensions must have begun around 30 years ago when I got my own first set. At that time, the quality of the products wasn’t nearly as good as it is now. I tried out many different types of extension myself and that encouraged me to start studying all the varieties of hair and products available. It was part of my day-to-day job, but it was also my passion. I completed my first ever hair extension training with Balmain over 20 years ago.
More recently, I have continued to research hair extensions, from far and wide, in search of the very best product innovations and training methods available.
And so what was it that brought you and Komao to Marlow?
Well, I’ve always lived and worked in this part of the world. I really wanted my salon to be in Marlow as this was where my father’s business was, and the town holds very special memories for me.
The whole reason for setting up the boutique was to create a place I’d really like to go to myself: This is going to be a salon where somebody really loves going to get their hair done. The stylist will be with you from start to finish. Coming to our salon will be a great experience and a real treat.
Above all, I wanted to keep things small to foster a truly personalised and friendly experience. My husband, Craig, has helped with all the logistics and we’re really pleased with the way everything has come together.
Tell us about being chosen as a flagship salon for L’Oréal. How did that come about?
We’re very excited about that – we literally only found out a couple of weeks ago and it’s a big feather in our cap. I’ve always been a huge fan of L’Oréal and have used their products and dyes at every opportunity during my career. They’re so well-established, they’ve been successful for more than 110 years now, and have an unrivalled reputation for excellence.
So, it was always part of my plan to use L’ Oréal at Komao. To do that, I needed to share my business plan with them up front. I warned them that we’d only be a small salon so we probably wouldn’t be ordering as much stock as the average customer. Thankfully, they didn’t seem to be put off by this. I ended up having some long meetings with the local L’ Oréal and Redken representatives and I placed my initial order with them. A short time later, I received a phone call saying they’d been really impressed by the business plan and that they like us to become their flagship salon in Marlow. It’s not something you apply for; you just get chosen. Obviously, we’re thrilled to bits.
That’s impressive, Debbie. Beyond the things one might expect, are there any unusual services you’ll be offering at Komao?
Everything revolves around delivering the highest possible levels of personal service: the welcome you get when you walk through the door, the smiles that greet you and all the little touches that you might not receive elsewhere.
Before we start working on you, we offer a full consultation for our luxury hair extensions and hair salon services. Most people offer consultations, but we pride ourselves on making ours completely relaxed and unhurried. We wouldn’t dream of encouraging you to take a path you’re not completely happy with.
Our talented hair stylists have been fully trained by two of the leading hair extension academies, Beauty Works and Great Lengths. Both offer a wide range of methods, lengths and thickness to suit your individual hair type and to match the vision you have in your head.
Two other things worth mentioning are the amazing L’Oréal SteamPOD which is brilliant for people with hair straighteners. They allow steam to continually flow gently through the hair, smoothing the look as it’s styled. This clever innovation works so well for hair extensions, damaged hair or highly bleached hair.
One last question, Komao is an interesting and unusual name. Tell us where that came from?
Yes, you’re not the first person to ask that question! I wanted a Greek name as I fell in love with the country and the culture after spending many family holidays out there from a very young age. Komao is actually a Greek verb, meaning to wear your hair in long tresses. It’s as simple as that.
Thank you so much for your time, Debbie, at what we know must be a really busy time for you. Best of luck with your new venture and we look forward to making a visit.
Bookings and more information available on all Komao services on 01628 481 055.