TAUNTON Combers Hair Salon celebrates 40 years with fond memories.
The Independent Quarter’s courtyard was in a festive mood as hundreds of Combers customers, old and new, joined in the celebrations.
A jazz band entertained the crowd and there was lots of fun, bubbly and birthday cake.
Manager Simon Willetts, who launched the show in a single room at The Courtyard, said he was “overwhelmed” by the response from well-wishers.
“People have shown me pictures of themselves having their hair done in Combers for their wedding 30 years ago, or their prom last year,” he said.
“Others told me they came to the salon to change their style for a job interview or to get their hair cut elsewhere. I can’t count the number of moms who said they had had their first haircut at the salon like the teenagers who are now in their 40s and their daughters are regular customers.
“We call our customers guests, but they are truly part of our family as we have been privileged to share so many happy and special memories with them over the decades.”
Simon was 20 when he started Combers when The Courtyard was launched as a commercial development in May 1982.
TV presenter Judith Chalmers officially opened the venue and was the first customer.
“I was really nervous because Judith was such a big name and there were lots of people around taking pictures,” Simon said.
“But she made me feel comfortable and was pleased with my efforts. She said she couldn’t get a better haircut in London.”
Combers is the only company from that era still in business. Over the years Simon has expanded the salon which underwent a £250,000 refurbishment last year and is now the largest independent local in the area.
“I started with an assistant and an intern,” he added.
“Today there are 15 stylists, six graduate trainees at Combers Academy, three front desk coordinators and three administrators. Over 60% of our staff have worked with us for 10 years. We are the largest salon in Taunton with customers from Bristol and Bath as well as all over Devon and even Cornwall.
“People often ask how we managed to stay on top and my response is that everything we do is customer-centric.
“In addition, we have a talented staff who benefit from courses in London and Miami and learn from the best stylists in the country who come to Combers. Over the years we have trained over 200 stylists who now work in premier salons. plan across the UK.”
Combers is used to celebrities entering the salon. One of Simon’s happiest memories was when Somerset and England cricketer Ian Botham did his sponsored walk from John o’Groats to Land’s End.
Simon said: “Ian was booked for a cut and color and it was all broadcast live at the BBC Christmas house party. It was chaotic but great fun and Ian was a real gentleman.”
Simon and his wife, Carolyn, are delighted that their son Cameron, 23, has joined Combers as manager. He has previously worked with models during New York Fashion Week and leads the show’s campaign to be more sustainable.
Cameron said, “We have a long-standing relationship with Italian company Davines, who create beautiful, environmentally friendly and ethically sourced products while delivering natural goodness and quality to our customers.
“I am attending the World Wide Hair Tour, with my father, who is this year in Italy, where I will have the opportunity to reconnect with hairdressers with whom I have not worked since the first confinement.