Executive Q&A with Nikita Hair Founder Inger Ellen Nicolaisen
Nikita Hair Founder Inger Ellen Nicolaisen shares the history, milestones and future goals of the European-based hair salon and beauty franchise.
1851: Can you describe your background and the experiences that led you to your current role?
Inger Ellen Nicolaisen: I’m a self-made entrepreneur from humble beginnings. I became a mother at the young age of 15 and the responsibility of motherhood pushed me into developing my business skills. At the age of 16, I started my first business selling children’s clothes. In 1984 I founded Nikita Hair, with my first hair salon in Norway. Since then, Nikita Hair has grown to become one of the largest and most successful hair and beauty companies, with over 150 salons and over 1,000 employees in Europe and the USA.? With a fighting spirit, enthusiasm and passion, Nikita Hair has the vision to create one of the greatest adventures in hair and beauty history.
In addition to growing a strong company, I’m proud to have raised a large family as well. I’ve given birth to three children but have an additional 11 from an orphan home in Eastern Europe. Nikita Hair is truly a family business, with eight of my children working in the company. As the founder of the A Hand to Children Foundation, I’ve actively worked to help children for over two decades.
1851: What void does your brand fill? What was missing in the space before? How was it identified? What inspired you to start?
I.E.N: Nikita Hair first and foremost fills the need for affordable luxury in the hair salon industry. People want a brand they can count on for a great salon experience and the highest quality service at an affordable price.
While clients usually have to choose between a low cost, no-frills salon and an expensive local boutique salon, Nikita Hair is an affordable salon concept dedicated to quality. Our goal is to make people feel twice as nice and twice as confident. We are in the “identity business”—our concept is not just about cutting hair. We offer hair extensions, coloring, treatments and more.
1851: What are you doing well right now? What are your brand’s differentiators?
I.E.N: In addition to providing clients with the best salon experience, Nikita Hair has prioritized recruiting the right team members, continuing stylist education, training and beauty product development. To build a successful salon brand, we know how important it is to support the hairstylist.
1851: What are your growth goals? What vision do you want your brand to fulfill? What were some learning opportunities that the brand has leveraged to get where it is now?
I.E.N: Nikita Hair is excited to share our well-developed concept and enthusiastic company culture globally. Currently, our sights are set on the United States, with plans to open more salons in the near future.
With 35 years of successful growth in the hair and beauty segment, more than 150 salons, five academies and the development of several salon-exclusive product lines, we have a deep understanding and unparalleled positioning in the industry.
Instead of focusing on rapid expansion, our main focus is on the success of the first ten U.S. franchise locations. We are currently scheduled to open in Ohio, Charleston, South Carolina and are looking at Dallas for future development.
1851: What have been the brand’s most important milestones over the past five years?
I.E.N: My first goal was 5 salons in1984, then it was 50. Now, we are well on our way to 500 locations.
In Nikita Hair’s first two years, we worked hard to establish the franchise opportunity and the executive team. We developed our proprietary product lines and started an award-winning beauty brand, named Eleni & Chris. We also brought in multi-unit franchisees and filmed the pilot of our reality TV show about the Nikita Hair Adventure.
We’ve developed the brand culture and the targeted growth plan. Of course, expanding to the U.S. is extremely exciting and we are more prepared than ever to flourish. Technology investment has also been a big part of our plan recently, including upgrades to our POS system, loyalty program and advanced consumer offerings.
1851: What does your ideal franchisee look like in terms of how they run their business—what personal traits do they have, what prior business experience can they claim and what kind of investor model do they align with?
I.E.N: Nikita Hair franchisees should be driven, enthusiastic and capable of managing a team. Our franchise partners share a passion for business, a positive attitude and a growth-oriented mindset. Nikita Hair is dedicated to helping people be their best, from our clients to our team members.
Many of our franchisees are experienced business owners looking to diversify their portfolio with a successful and emerging concept, which is a testament to our company and history.
1851: How does Nikita Hair support franchisees?
I.E.N: We have a strong support infrastructure available for our franchisees in order to help our partners, from signings to grand openings and beyond. Nikita Hair has a great business model and we know how important it is to train franchise partners on how to properly implement that model for their local salon. Our team provides e-learning, video tutorials, weekly Nikita Hair newsletters and marketing resources for each franchisee.
For more information on the Nikita Hair franchise opportunity, visit: https://nikitahair.com/nikita-hair-franchise/