Meet the man behind the success of NYC-inspired salon The Loft Fifth Avenue in the UAE. Since its first launch in The Dubai Mall back in 2008, the salon became a leading beauty destination and has opened more than 11 branches in the Emirates.

“My role is to have the vision of the business, creating the right concept and make key right decision when it comes to locations, and hiring the top operation management,”says  Jacob Hrayki, founder of Dubai’s luxury haircare salon. “After that you need to trust your team and know how to motivate them and feel that they are part of The Loft successful story.”

Jacob, who recently awarded Business Director at this year’s Professional Beauty GCC, shares with us his vision and success of The Loft, expanding in Dubai, new plans for the salon, whether he’s ever satisfied and much more.

Jacob can you please tell us more about your professional background?

I had a very diverse work career, I started in banking/finance for 1 year in the US, then I moved to Dubai working in F&B industry as sales manager for food products but for short period of time, then I moved to the cosmetics industry being director of international cosmetics and fragrances brands (Burberry, Nars, etc..) for 8 years. I moved afterwards to the luxury industry being the General Manager for Christian Dior Middle East for Jewellery, watches and accessories. Parallel to my corporate career, I have created my own business in 2003, and developed to today’s concept of total beauty services.

Being a businessman with no professional hair experience or background, what made you venture into launching hair salons, especially in the UAE?

The Lack of great and premium service Hair salons and the lack of luxury experience was the main cause of my involvement in this business. I have also realised there is no network of nice beauty salons in the area with consistent good service, there was in fact nails lounges, but not Hair, like the case in Europe or North America, I thought The Loft Fifth Avenue can fill this gap and be the most complete service provider in the region.

What was your initial vision for The Loft before opening it to the public back in 2008? Why  was The Dubai Mall your target mall for your first salon?

Dubai Mall was the biggest mall constructed in the world, with the most international brands taking part of its tenants mix; it’s established in one the most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities of the world, I thought it would be difficult to go wrong when you are in such an address.

What is The Loft Fifth Avenue hair salon’s mission statement and what is the inspiration behind the name?

The name is inspired clearly from New York City fashion avenue, 5th Avenue Street. The Loft is an industrial and urban concept, it’s reflected in the design and the environment we try to promote at The Loft. The Mission statement is still evolving as during the last 3 years our focus was to grow in brand exposure and opening new branches and servicing all areas around Dubai and partly Abu Dhabi. As of now, our mission statement is simply, “Give most satisfying experience to The Loft guests in all beauty category, Hair Nail SPA. “Client one stop, one do it all beauty services”

How would you describe the concept of The Loft Fifth Avenue?

I think the concept is unique in design. First it’s very modern and consistent across all branches in terms of imaging and brand communication. Second, we offer Hair and Nails/other beauty services within the right environment for each service. Nails and SPA are more of a Zen relaxing area, while Hair is more dynamic.

It’s never an easy decision, but you can’t be successful in one location and stop there. You need to reach all your potential clients across UAE and we did it now and we are successful with 11 branches across UAE.

What professional brands do you distribute within your company?

TLCA is sister company of The Loft Fifth Avenue, we distribute Babor Skincare brand, one of the top international SPA and premium professional beauty salons skincare brand. It’s German made and in fact Number 1 brand in Germany among all cosmetics brands with 36millionUSD sale in Germany alone. TLCA also distribute other brands but more on the luxury and accessories side of the business, thus within different retail network.

Why did you decide to expand your salon across Dubai over the years? Was it an easy decision?

It’s never an easy decision, but you can’t be successful in one location and stop there. You need to reach all your potential clients across UAE and we did it now and we are successful with 11 branches across UAE.

The Emirates has very strict rules when it comes women cutting women’s hair and men cutting men’s hair. Would you ever consider opening another salon where men cut women’s hair and vice versa?

Certainly, that’s next in our agenda. Many women prefer Men to cut their hair, particularly women from levant countries. We will be targeting those women soon as we will be opening in some prestigious hotels soon and other key locations where man hairstylist is allowed to work.

I’m totally satisfied at this stage with what we achieve in a short period of time, yet there is much more to fulfill and to accomplish.

As an accomplished business owner, what is the key success when running a successful business?

My role is to have the vision of the business, creating the right concept and make key right decision when it comes to locations, and hiring the top operation management. After that you need to trust your team and know how to motivate them and feel that they are part of The Loft successful story.

What advice would you share for those wanting to also open a successful business like The Loft?

Don’t assume you know everything or lot of things, listen to everyone you hire, anyone who is on the front line with clients, their input is the key for you to make right decision, to correct wrong path and understand daily better your business update.

Are you ever satisfied with how far you’ve come?

I’m totally satisfied at this stage with what we achieve in a short period of time, yet there is much more to fulfill and to accomplish. Quality control and enhancement is a continuous process you can’t just be satisfied and laid back, it’s ongoing maintenance. From this perspective I always seek more achievement and more satisfaction.

They say that no matter how successful you are, you always find new things to learn and are always faced with new challenges. What were the latest challenges and learning points you encountered?

Everything these days is so dynamic, what you learned today may be obsolete tomorrow.
Imagine for now, you are doing advertising, everything has changed. Once it was all about print, now all is digital, socialites, bloggers, etc. That’s just an example of how things are changing. Now for The Loft I m changing all our communication with clients to digital, new application is created, clients can book online through our application anytime during the day or night, they can earn points through a digitalised loyalty program that clients can monitor anytime they want through the application.

Are there any upcoming future projects/collaborations you’re currently working that you can share?

We are opening Motor City new branch toward end of the month of Jan. We will have 2 branches one for ladies and one for man.
We will also have a very special brand for hair coloring, very trendy brand that we will be launching in 2018, it will be exclusive for The Loft.

How important is customer service to you?

Well, it makes or breaks the business. It’s the essence of every service industry.

If you had to expand your salon anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I have many Franchising requests across GCC, India, China; somehow the brand is known in those countries because of tourisms probably. We may also expand to other territories, Europe and the US, based on a long term plan we are currently working on.

The best advice I’ve ever received was ….

Well that’s hard to tell, but I would say for every complain or negative note we received from any clients, we immediately analyze and try to correct, as negative as it sounds, I consider a client who was not satisfied and communicate the same to The Loft as an advise to correct customer service direction.

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