Yulia Rorstrom, founder and CEO of Duck & Dry came from a management consulting background in finance. Inspired by her entrepreneurial family, she decided to venture out and carve a niche of her own - through the creation of the Duck & Dry brand. The Fiena team chatted to her about managing the business through COVID, and her personal journey over the last few years...
What was the inspiration behind the name - Duck & Dry?
It’s a play on words for ‘ducking in’ and ‘drying out.’ We wanted it to be distinctive and fun!
What makes the Duck & Dry salon experience stand out from other Central London salons?
Our salons are known for their energy and buzz – as a go to place for great hair and a great time. You can expect interiors of urban chic, signature accents of pastels, marble and greenery. Complete with Prosecco bar, group styling areas and signature egg pods.
You founded Duck & Dry yourself - did you consider co-founders or did you really want to take on the journey independently?
There is no right or wrong in business, it was the right approach for me to go for it alone. But the entrepreneurial journey can be an exhausting and sometimes lonely process - so a co-founder can be a great asset. However, the choice of partner is very important so if you do decide to begin a journey with someone else, it is important you share the same vision and end goal, and your skill sets should complement each other. My top tips for other solo founders would be:
1. Outline what the unique selling points of your business are that makes it stand out from other competitors.
2. Stay agile and adaptable. Your initial ideas are very often not the end result so maintain the original business DNA but be open to changes and opportunity.
3. 50% of success is just showing up, so your determination, tenacity and motivation is half of the game!
Since you launched the salon in 2014, how have you seen your role evolve? What defines your success as CEO and Founder?
As a start-up, in the beginning you inevitably wear a lot of hats and take on a lot of roles - getting involved everywhere. But with time you try to concentrate more on the bigger picture and opportunities for business development. Hopefully, you would have built a team that can help and run the day-to-day of the business.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve experienced and how have you navigated the pandemic, in an industry that relies on face to face interaction?
Sometimes having determination and not giving up is the most important characteristic that an entrepreneur can have. There are challenges throughout from keeping the business cashflow positive, to having the right people around you, to knowing when to say no; including knowing when to leave certain opportunities and at the same time when to embrace others and change directions. The pandemic has obviously been extremely difficult for us as a face to face business, we have pivoted by launching a new hair care and styling range - based on the best performing products that we’ve already been using in salon. I’m very excited about making beautiful hair accessible whether in salon or at home.
As well as building a successful brand , you’ve developed Duck & Dry into a franchise business. How has that process been?
Franchising as a concept is very interesting as somebody else takes on your brand identity and performs the services the way you envisaged them, but at the same time it’s their business that they run and it belongs to them. We don’t necessarily look for franchise partners with previous beauty experience, but an understanding of physical locations and services is very important because the day-to-day running of the salon is often what makes or breaks it. We provide a huge amount of support and guidance in terms of marketing and customer relationships. It’s an area of the business that I personally am very excited to develop further and I’m very keen to take the Duck & Dry concept nationwide as well as abroad.
How do you balance motherhood and business? What components do you find are essential in making this work?
The challenge of being a mother and business owner has been there from the very start as I had my first baby at the same time as opening the first Duck & Dry salon. In the beginning your business needs your full attention and drive to get it off the ground, it’s the most difficult period for any start up to get it going and gain momentum; so I was very fortunate to have a very supportive partner and family as well as help with childcare. With time, I’ve developed my schedule so that when I go to work, I go to work and my attention is on my job – whereas on Friday’s I do school drop-offs and pick-ups and it’s mummy day, which I treasure equally. The key is to not have those feelings of guilt for letting yourself have your work days where you prioritise work when it needs you and reminding yourself that you’re a great mum who is building your own relationships with your children creating great experiences with them.
Are there any books, audiobooks, movies or people who inspire you in business?
I recently read Shoe Dog by the co-founder of Nike and found it absolutely fascinating. The tenacity and resilience that he showed in business and how they overcame the many false starts, failures and near-misses they experienced along the way really inspired me. I also really love the movie The Founder which is about the story of McDonald’s. It gives an eye-opening insight into the power of branding and marketing and how the business came to be what it is now – a fascination story especially from the franchising perspective.
What’s next for Duck & Dry? What should we look forward to in 2022 and beyond?
I’m extremely passionate about our new product range, it has been a real labour of love; and in terms of post-development and testing with our own stylists and clients, I’m very proud of the products we’ve brought out and really looking forward to transforming Duck & Dry into a multi-faceted beauty consumer brand. For the future, I’m very enthusiastic about growing our franchise partner network and taking Duck & Dry to new cities and geographies. Of course, I’m also hoping that we can get to some level of familiarity within salons and gain back normality in operating a services business post-pandemic.