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Danelle and Karl Radel, at Klone Left Klone’s Danelle and Karl Radel.

Send in the Klones

Sam Mitchell talks to Klone Hair’s Karl and Danelle Radel, at one of Dunedin’s top salons
EXPANDED FROM ISSUE 26 OF LUCIRE

 

MAKING MY WAY to Klone Hair the Monday after ID Dunedin Fashion Weekend, unkempt, exhausted and flanked by a bevy of early morning students, I was concerned my appearance wasn’t quite up to scratch to be interviewing Dunedin’s two most successful salon owners. I needn’t have worried, as I’m greeted by Karl Radel, dressed in his Monday best of T-shirt, jeans, jacket and surprisingly, a hat, an accessory I’m soon assured by his lovely wife, Danelle, would be completely unacceptable on the salon floor. It’s this quick nod in the direction of the couple’s complete professionalism which reminds me why Klone is unarguably the most successful salon in Dunedin.
   Klone Hair, on the corner of Albany and Great King Streets in Dunedin, was established in 1999 by husband-and-wife team Karl and Danelle Radel. Both former stylists of Mainstreet Salon, the duo set to work creating their own salon in a space which, once upon a time, used to be a bank. Turning the building into a salon was one of the hardest things they could do to it, requiring a concrete cutter to get through the robber safe walls, so as to install doors and windows, while the office out the back, an old vault, cuts out the cordless phone as the walls are too thick.
   While the initial renovation of the store may have been a challenge, finding clients wasn’t. Using a very clever “missing person” style series of advertisements in The Otago Daily Times, and a guarantee to fit in any client before Christmas so long as they booked before the 15th (when the store only opened on the 8th of December), the Radels had around 200 bookings in the first hour of business.
   With an opening team comprised of Karl, Danelle, a part-timer and two juniors, the fledgling salon owners were working till 11 or 12 at night to fit in all the clients in the seven-seat salon, and after that initial opening rush, it hasn’t slowed down since.
   Re-gutting the salon four years ago and adding in a colour lounge increased the number of seats in the salon from seven to fifteen and they now have a staff of eleven. Seniors Angela and Rachelle have been with Klone for eight years and the Radels have never had a stylist leave them for a rival salon.
   The four seniors (excluding themselves) and four apprentices have all started from scratch at Klone. The intense way of training that Klone holds dear is not only of a high standard, but has a strong focus on quality control within the team. If an apprentice is not up to the same standard as all the other seniors, they will be held back until they can provide the same amazing service that the others can.
   Not only does this mean that the stylists at Klone sit at the highest benchmark among others, they also share the same spirit, passion and work ethic that all the rest of the team does, ensuring an effective, professional and most importantly, positive work environment. Danelle is quick to say that if you don’t love your job any more, it’s time to move on; there’s no space for negativity in a team atmosphere.
   Those work ethics that are such an important thing also define Klone as a business. Both Karl and Danelle believe in offering the best standard of hairdressing with the best service, and while they charge top dollar, the service and experience a Klone customer gets are worth every cent.
   The positive vibe and atmosphere that is felt at Klone is the result of a happy and hard-working team, who meet every week to openly discuss any issues.
   The Klone customer can be anyone from age four to ninety, regardless of sex or race, and the salon endeavours to ensure that any client who walks through their door gets exactly what they want. Even their returning customers, who often book their appointments for the year in advance, can expect a forward thinking, fashion-focused experience, so they can keep evolving and changing but still have a style that suits them.
   Contrary to the salon’s name, they are unlike any other salon, and their clients don’t leave looking like they’ve come off an assembly line. Customers have been known to be stopped in the street from Ponsonby to Merivale, not to forget all over Dunedin, to be asked where they got their hair done.
   This reaction from the general public is no surprise when you take note of the salon’s achievements. In the past 14 months three of the stylists have taken national titles in competitions. Karl himself won the NZRAH Supreme Hairdresser of the Year for 2006, stylist Rachelle Scott won the Wella New Zealand YPS Trophy in 2006 also and Tammy Ung won the L’Oréal Talent Spotting New Zealand Young Stylist of the Year 2007.
   For the Radels, the sense of pride they feel for the stylists is almost parental. They have nurtured these young talents, so seeing them flourish within their chosen profession makes the pair really proud.
   While Karl is undoubtedly one of the best stylists in the country, Klone is also churning out amazing young stylists to rival even himself in the years to come. For Karl, who believes you’re only as good as your worst stylist, the standard of the employees at Klone speaks for itself.
   It’s easy to be impressed by such professional success by a husband-and-wife team: two people working together in such unison tends to give you the warm fuzzies. Then, when you add two sets of twins into that mix, the warm fuzzies, and also the utter amazement at such a feat, go into overload.
   The Radels were married in December 1997, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that the time was right to add their family, and add they did. Four-year-old twins André and Aysha were first to come along. When the time became right once more to add to their already expanding family, the Radels were pleasantly surprised to fall pregnant quickly, but more surprises were to come when the first scan showed another set of twins. Danelle couldn’t help but crying, despite wanting four children eventually, this swiftness was overwhelming.
   The secret to Karl and Danelle’s success appears to be their complementary personalities. While Karl, the ‘night owl’, runs things salon-wise, Danelle, the ‘weekend socialite’, runs a very tight ship at home. Working part-time at the salon and full-time at home as a Mum, Danelle relies on her somewhat high-strung but incredibly organized personality to get by each day. Like all mothers, when it comes to housework Danelle says she feels like she’s scraping by with a huge workload created by their four ‘free-spirited’ children. She has grown to accept that taking all four into town is impossible, after the two eldest tied themselves in a knot one day in a store, resulting in a tearful distressed Danelle and no more trips to town for the kids.
   The Radels employ a part-time nanny to help Danelle at dinner, bath and bedtimes in the evening, as Karl works till 8 or 9 P.M. at the salon, always doing over 42 hours a week. Danelle’s “part-time” effort is no mean feat, working around 25 hours a week.
   Despite this seemingly well ordered home life, Karl and Danelle insist they disagree on almost everything, stating hairdressing as one of the rare things they have in common. When it comes to food, fashion, music and movies the pair claim to be completely at odds with each other. One would be forgiven for thinking this could maybe cause a few wee snags in a marriage, but the Radels are very open about their commitment to one another, and tell me that if they feel they need help they’re not afraid to get it. The Radels possess a lot a passion, which they believe is essential to their lives, professionally and personally.
   As far as family expansion goes, there aren’t any more multiple births in the works, not even any single ones, and while Danelle mentions you can never say never, Karl is quick to quip that he is saying never. It’s a cute little bicker that leaves Danelle with a cheeky grin on her face and Karl looking slightly concerned.
   As far as the salon goes, their long-term dream is of a sister salon in the North Island, most likely Wellington, where the atmosphere is more complementary to Dunedin, but they insist there would be the same quality control.
   But don’t Wellingtonians get too hasty and start making appointments. The Radels tell me this dream is intended for the far future; for a couple with a hair salon and four kids under five, they have a lot on their plate as it is.
   They also plan on more competition work. This is the perfect way not only to learn and study their competition; walking away with an award isn’t too shabby either.
    For Klone, being in Dunedin means they have to work super-hard to get noticed; things would undoubtedly be easier for them in Auckland. But it’s this challenge that helps them grow as a business. Their belief in loving your profession and giving each day 100 per cent is what makes them so successful. The need to better themselves as stylists means they are constantly learning and working on their skills. After all, as Karl tells me with true sincerity, ‘How do you know what perfect is if you’re continually striving for perfection?’ •

 



 

The Radels have never had a stylist leave them for a rival salon. Not only does this mean that the stylists at Klone sit at the highest benchmark among others, they also share the same spirit, passion and work ethic that all the rest of the team does, ensuring an effective, professional and most importantly, positive work environment. Danelle is quick to say that if you don’t love your job any more, it’s time to move on; there’s no space for negativity in a team atmosphere

 

 

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