My name is Marion, I'm the manager of La Cachette Secrète, a hair salon for the whole family and a children's bookstore. I founded The Secret Hideout three and a half years ago. Before I was a librarian at the Cité des Sciences and when I had my first child, I thought about something else. I was working in Paris, I had a lot of transportation, so I wanted to work close to home and I always had this passion for books.
I wanted to combine the children's bookshop with another activity and this other activity came to me by going to the hairdresser with my son, where it was just catastrophic because nothing was suitable for children. In the beginning I was only in charge of the bookshop, not the hairdressing salon. I trained and graduated so that I could work with my employees. And in the end, passion came very quickly. I also do children's hair.
Already I've been able to take advantage of a parental leave to prepare all this. It took me 18 months to create everything. After that I had to create a business plan, see the banks... I took several slaps, because I was told: "No, but children don't pay, it's not interesting". Those were bank advisers who weren’t aware of all that.
Once I was able to convince a bank, I was able to go and see Initiative Nord Seine et Marne. It's a loan that is granted to business creators, under the cover of a bank loan. I presented myself, in front of a jury of 14 people. There were accountants, lawyers, bank directors who asked me very technical questions about the financial side of things.
After this accreditation committee, I was able to get a grant, called a loan of honour, at zero interest, to finance all the bookshop's stocks and to have legitimacy with the banks. The two put together, I was able to get financing to create.
I was present a lot on social networks, I had created a website myself with Wix. It allowed me to have visibility on the Internet.
Then I Googled myself, I used Adwords. It allowed me to be in the first results on the Internet. Clients the first thing they do is look on the Internet. Very quickly, we were lucky enough to have clients, who very quickly put comments on the Internet, on Facebook, on Google, and that gave us great visibility.
I was able to participate in several events. I did a Christmas market, the one in Serris. I did a lot of events that allowed me to be present and to have visibility. One thing leading to another, the fact that I was present at these events resulted in an advertisement in the city's magazines, for example. Le Parisien came to see me, La Marne came to see me, we did interviews. It had a snowball effect. I have a radio station that came too. It made a great visibility!
I already had it on the old website where I had a lot of problems. It wasn't working! It's been 2 years. 2 years and here with Wavy since September. We realized very quickly that when you have kids, it's very complicated to answer the phone. The reservation can take 10 minutes on the phone and when we get back to the kids, well, it's over, they don't want to wait any longer.
Today, we don't even answer the phone to make appointments anymore, because there's a message on the answering machine if people call: "Go to our iInternet site: lacachettesecrète.com and make an appointment directly online". It works very well.
The employee will be undergoing training. So it's not going to last very long, but it's mainly because there's the whole approach technique. The kids don't know us, they're coming to a completely new place. Usually, they're little bits between 15 months and 3 years old. They are little men to be conquered. So there's a whole approach technique, a gentle approach. You can't just walk up to them and say: "Sit there, don't move".
They arrive, we send him to play in the space behind it, we call it The Secret Hideout. There's toy trains, cars, the kitchen. It gives them a sense of confidence. We're going to play with them. It lasts two minutes, but that's how long it takes for them to trust us, so that afterwards we can touch their heads and cut their hair. Because sometimes it can be very complicated to cut hair in small pieces.
When we get them in the car, we ask the parents to stay close to them. So they can play with them. There are books, toys. We're not going to ask them to stay put. It's up to us to adapt to them. And when we cut their hair, we're very careful. I mean, we have techniques to keep them from getting hurt. A little one that turns its head, we have scissors, we can poke an eye out. So, no, we're very careful, we're going to put the comb in when we do the BTE, when we hold a strand, we're going to put all the hand on the head, to stabilize the head when we cut the strand. So that we don't make mistakes, because the parents' requirement is that the haircut be perfect. It's normal, we're specialists.
It might be interesting to go to the DWI to explain to them that a child is not a demon and that by taking 3 minutes of his time, the haircut can last 10 minutes and he is an acquired client. It works when that time is taken. Indeed, go and talk to the young people who are in CAP, in BP, to explain our techniques to them so that afterwards they are not traumatized. There are many children who go to traditional hairdressing salons who are traumatized by the barber.
We also do hairdressing for children with special needs and disabilities, including autistic children. They are children like any other, but they are a little more complicated to deal with. And the big victory is when you didn't make it the first time, didn't make it the second time, the third is starting to come and the fourth: "Hi Marion, I'm going in the car. "And then he gets his hair done, he doesn’t move, he lets himself be done. No problem and a big kiss, a big hug. That happens a lot. And that's the best reward of all. When they leave, it's just great. It's all well and good to win over the parents because you put glitter on them, but the most demanding are the kids.