Interview: Martha Kourtidou, Boda Hair Boutique

Owning a business means putting in the hard yards – and when your business is in a seemingly crowded industry, it can be even harder. Martha has not only made her own hair boutique happen, but Boda is one of the most successful and recognised names in the industry. Here’s how she did it…

Tell us about the backstory of how you became a hair boutique owner?

I actually started my undergraduate degree in psychology because I just had a thirst to talk to and help people. When the lecturer outlined it could take eight years before I actually practiced one-on-one therapy I knew I had to find a faster way. Tuning into my creative side meant that I decided to try hairdressing back in 2008 – which quenched that thirst to connect with people beautifully. 

What I love about hairdressing is that it’s turned out to be more than a psychologist appointment for the client – they get to spend more than 60 minutes with me talking about their feelings, and leave looking amazing too.

I took a chance at the end of 2016 to buy my first salon. I was previously freelancing and felt trapped by my lack of growth. I’d just finished my apprenticeship and my boss was thinking of closing her salon because she was exhausted from running it and working in it. I offered to become her business partner, terrified of the idea at only 22 years old. However, she agreed and we went to open a new space together. This partnership was never right for me as we both had different visions from the get go. I wanted to grow and expand and she was very content with her one salon. We then ended the partnership after three years and I am forever grateful for what that partnership taught me. 

I learnt that leadership is my number one value and to never manage a team from a place of ego; at BODA we only lead from the heart. Secondly, you are only as strong as the team you have around you, so I really invested in education to grow my team. These lessons were the pillars of my success for BODA. 

I started Boda at the end of 2016 and expanded to six locations by 2022. We now employ over 60 talented hairdressers and have plans to keep growing. 

What have some important pieces to your business puzzle been when it comes to standing out from the crowd? 

I admire everything my competitors do and it only motivates me to do better. I truly believe we have a strong vision that elevates us from our competitors. We are continuously looking at how we can improve and grow. I sit down with my executive team every week to talk through and  analyse what has worked well recently and what needs more to improve. Following this I removed myself from the creative side of hairdressing and directed my focus on marketing, strategy and innovation. 

Customer loyalty is very important in what you do. Any advice to other business owners looking to focus on this area?

In hairdressing we have an opportunity to connect with our clients in ways that many other industries don’t. Our team has the privilege of being in a clients personal space whilst doing their hair and have a strong emphasis on making them feel welcomed and cared for. 

High quality results as well as a high level of customer service go hand-in-hand at BODA. Our client’s experience starts from before they book their initial appointment, which is why we place a lot of attention into nurturing our clients through our marketing. 

Client communication and automation around their experience is vital for our success and future proofing our business. Our marketing team does an outstanding job at making sure clients have ongoing communication with our salon.

My advice for business owners is very simple: know your client. Understand how they feel and how they act, then provide them with an experience that will keep them coming back. Secondly, never take your client for granted and become complacent just because your business is doing well. Always anticipate what might be changing and where new opportunity lie and strategise accordingly. 

What’s a big lesson you’ve learned along the way that could help other business owners (hairdressers or otherwise)? 

I have always been a big believer in leading from the heart – it’s definitely been a key value to my success. However, I’ve also been known to keep people on board who are not in line with our company values. I’ve learnt that if something is not working out initially, stop trying to change team members who are not willing to grow. It’s been a massive learning curve as I’ve wasted a lot of time and many resources when I should have cut ties early on. 

How has Future helped Boda’s success?

Boda is now witnessing a growth not just in client demand but also recognition from other salons in our industry. Our next focus is working with other salons to help mentor them into success. We are looking at either creating a management company that mentors salons, or potentially creating a BODA franchise model. Within the next few years we also see ourselves creating our own salon products. Seeing our salons go global is our end goal and I hope that in the next three to five years we will walking down the streets of LA or Bali, seeing the name BODA light up. All these goals come with the need for excellent accounting and business advice – which we’ve found in the team at Future.

Now for the hair content… what are a couple of your client’s most commonly asked questions?

My number one tip for healthy hair is very open ended because everyone has different hair. However, my go-to is to always use high quality, salon professional products in your hair. Invest in the best shampoo, treatments and hot tools. What you get is really what you pay for when it comes to hair; go to a high quality salon who employs the best stylists who use high quality colour ranges. 

Dyson is always a hot topic… I have to admit I have never been a fan of the brand. I find their marketing and innovation amazing, however I don’t see the results when I’ve used their product. Perhaps an unpopular opinion I know – but I much prefer other styling tools like ghd!

You can find out more about Boda here and book in to give your hair the treatment it deserves here.