When Irish Oscar hopeful, Saoirse Ronan, plugged Dublin salon Tropical Popical to the 4 million viewers of The Ellen Show in the US, we had to catch up with co-owner Andrea Horan to see how the Holy Grail of marketing – the unpaid celebrity endorsement – boosted business. We found a salon that gives its clients great nails and great craic.
Saoirse Ronan Name Drops Local Dublin Salon, Tropical Popical On The Ellen Show
Phorest: Doing Saoirse Ronan’s nails, how did that come about?
Andrea: Really organically – she just emailed us one day and booked an appointment. I just saw the email and said to the other girls, “That’s a Saoirse, I wonder if that’s actually Saoirse Ronan.” That was about a year ago and she came in and just kept making appointments.
We’ve had some famous people, I suppose. But we’re not a very VIP, exclusive kind of salon. Everyone’s a celebrity, at the risk of sounding facetious. We’re not very celebrity driven. I suppose that’s probably why they come, because we don’t treat them any different.
Phorest: What has it done for business, getting a plug from Saoirse on The Ellen Show?
Andrea: The repercussions from that mention were outrageous. It was like a fanfare for two weeks of media interest. We got loads of media coverage and loads of social media. People are delighted to say, ‘That’s the salon I go to’. It’s almost like fame by association. People like to be able to show off, it’s human nature. And to feel part of something as well. We set up to be very much an environment that’s all about the craic as much as doing nails.
Phorest: Have you had more interest from new clients that haven’t been to Tropical Popical before?
Andrea: Yes, definitely. We have loyalty cards and we have noticed much more of an uptake of people saying, ‘I don’t have a loyalty card’, whereas our regular customers present them straight away.
Phorest: How long have you been running the salon?
Andrea: Tropical Popical opened November 2013. I worked in PR for 15 years, this was my first foray in to the beauty industry. I didn’t have any experience in beauty or that kind of thing. My sister, she’s the manager of the salon, and she was a hairdresser so she knew how to run a salon.
Phorest: What was your inspiration for Tropical Popical?
Andrea: Myself and my sister went travelling for a year, where all good ideas start. The last part of our trip was in America; we flew into Las Vegas and drove across to Texas and then up to New York. You’re either shopping, eating or watching TV in America, and we were sick of shopping, sick of eating, so we’d get our nails done as something to do. I’d say we were getting our nails done once every three days over there, because it was so affordable. Over in Ireland the nail salons are very lovely but very expensive. They were a treat – you’d get your nails done for a wedding or something. We wanted something that would make getting your nails done a habit. Not luxurious, more about the craic.
The way we’ve hired our staff is that they’re not just great nail technicians, they’re also a great craic. Our clients drop in to get the gossip. If one of our clients is going on a date and she’s telling the girls in the salon about it, she’ll drop in the day after the date to tell everyone how it’s gone. It’s that kind of environment that you want to go back to.
Phorest: What advice do you have for new salon owners?
Andrea: Always think of what your point of difference is, and then 100% go with it. Don’t be afraid to find that. A lot of salons, I think you could interchange their social media; it could be any salon providing any post, so there’s no interest for the client.
Also, make sure that the salon experience is a) giving people things to Instagram, that they want to share, and b) creating an environment that they want to go back to and they look forward to going to.
Hope you enjoyed reading this interview with the fab Tropical Popical!