For 30 years Liberty’s Hair Design has made its mark on the Walkden community not just as a trusted hair salon but as so much more.
I walked into Liberty’s on an oddly sunny afternoon this January to two ladies who greeted me with a coffee and a friendly handshake, eager to sit down for a chat.
“It’s not just doing hair, it’s being there for somebody and them being there for you as well,” said proud owner Kay (51).
In November 1993, Kay, from Walkden, rented an old video shop on Manchester Road with the money she had from her 21st for around £40 a week.
With the help of her parents, Kay was able to strip the place from head to toe and completely refurbish it ready for its debut in January 1994.
The clients who visited Kay in her early twenties are now more than happy to be celebrating their 30 year anniversary this Saturday at the salon.
But how did they manage to maintain such a loyal client base?
“We put a lot of time into people, we’re not just hair, we’re friends,” added stylist Kerry, who’s worked at the salon since she was 18.
Kerry (41) continued: “We’ve been through a lot of sadness and upset and really good times as well, we’ve been through marriages, kids, divorces and they’ve done the same with us.
“I think everybody knows us in the community, they do.”
Kerry and Kay are both Walkden “born and bred” and naturally spend a lot of time together at work.
“We’ve morphed into one I think now,” laughed Kay, “people began to think we were a couple.”
For many businesses in Walkden, lockdown was a formidable force that completely wiped out any chance of breaking even. However, Liberty’s managed to keep their grip on the community the whole way through.
“From the beginning we were lucky, we had good loyal clients that came back and we used social media a lot,” Kay added.
Kerry and Kay made sure to keep their client base well informed throughout the pandemic, a time when box-dye was rife and many of us were choosing a DIY cut instead.
Kay said: “I kept giving out little tips and advice on what not to do and what to do.
“For example, please don’t colour it yourself but use ‘this’ and use purple shampoo if it was getting to be a bit dull and I sent little links to where they could buy root touch up.”
Kay also puts the salon’s survival down to not having any debts.
“We never had a big fancy salon that we knew we wouldn’t be able to pay for,” Kay said.
“So if anything does happen then we’ll always be alright.”
Halfway through our chat, Kay showed me a scrapbook of her career at Liberty’s. She beamed as she flicked through the laminated pages of all sorts of hairstyles that have been popular throughout the years.
“It’s just come full circle again. So everything that I trained with went out the window and then things came back, you know, big rollers, blow dries.”
I quickly noticed a recurring appearance of Victoria Beckham in the scrapbook. Kay was quick to point out that any hairstyle Victoria Beckham had, everyone was quick to follow suit.
“I think you had every version of it didn’t you at one point,” Kay joked to Kerry.
“The Lob is popular now, which is very very blunt, very very blonde, platinum.
“We went through a stage in the last few years where everyone wanted to be grey, pure white grey, which is such a hard colour to achieve and very very high maintenance.”
Another interesting thing that Kay pointed out was the surge in boys and men coming to the salon.
“Boys spend more money on hair I think now or as much money as women. Now so many guys come to women because they want a perm or they want a colour, men are spending a lot more money on hair products than they’ve ever done.”
When asked if they’ve enjoyed working with the local community, both were quick to say yes.
Kerry explained: “I just like the social side and the chatting, I think you’ve got to be a people person to do hairdressing.
“We always say that because it’s not for everybody, it’s long hours, never been great wages, I don’t think that’s ever changed from you know the training.
“But we’ve been really lucky because we have got really nice clients.”
All in all, Kerry and Kay put it down to the community for keeping them afloat through the years. It’s the local community that make Liberty’s Hair Design such a friendly hub in Walkden.