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
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
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
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