Since opening 5 years ago, Linton & Mac has become a household name in Aberdeen’s hair and beauty scene, picking up prestigious awards, growing a team of like minded creatives and delivering an unrivalled experience to their growing and loyal community of customers.
With an unwavering passion for creativity and making people feel good, Jen and Jaye have succeeded in their mission to bring something fun and different to Aberdeen. Their salon is a beautiful and Instagrammable space in the heart of the city, that offers people much more than just a stylish hair cut and beauty treatment.
We caught up with Jennifer Linton and Jaye McDonald to find out what their inspiration was for Linton & Mac, why they are so passionate about what they do, and what they’ve learned on their journey of running a business...
Tell us a little about your business… Why did you start and what was the inspiration behind it?
Jaye: “Jen had always wanted to start a business, and we had worked together before - so we knew we would make a great team.
“When we opened, there were 152 hair salons in Aberdeen - and there are probably even more than that now! So when we were starting, we wanted to look at what we could do that was a little bit different, and it wasn’t just the same service everywhere you go.
“We both love to travel and discover new places - like a cafe or bar when you’re on holiday that makes you go ‘wow this is cool’. We both love London, so we took our inspiration from the atmosphere there and really wanted to create that stylish London vibe that has a buzz about it. For us, it was about making it more than just another hair salon - we wanted to create a community and an experience for everyone coming in.
“I feel we’ve done that - especially with Instagram. We’ve really brought something different to our platform where it isn’t just about hair and beauty, it’s more of a lifestyle.”
Jen: “We both knew there was something missing in Aberdeen. We loved going away and experiencing new places that felt exciting, but why couldn’t people experience that in Aberdeen? We always had ideas about what we could do, like going to hair shows, and we thought why can’t we do that?
“But I think the main reason we started was because we wanted to have something here in Aberdeen that everyone could enjoy and experience, that was different to your average salon.”
What makes Linton & Mac different or unique? Why do people come to you?
Jen: “With the salon, we wanted to create a one-stop shop. Our clients can get their nails or brows done, or other express beauty treatments, as well as get their hair done. They can even get treatments done at the same time. A lot of our clients are busy business women and we wanted to provide a service that met their needs.”
Jaye: “We also wanted to create a really fun place to work. The atmosphere in the salon has such a buzz and it’s somewhere everyone can enjoy coming to for a bit of ‘me-time’. We’ve made sure that the reception area is really welcoming and we have a sofa area too, so it is a place people can relax and take time out of their busy lives.”
What current trends in your industry are you excited about right now?
Jaye: “There’s a big influence in Aussie hair. It’s all about that beautiful balayage hair and natural beauty. It’s the same with makeup as well, with a lovely Aussie tan and a glow. So we’ve been trying to recreate that a lot in what we do lately.
“I think with trends nowadays, it’s become more a thing of the past because of social media. With hair, it’s so hard to keep up with it all and everyone is trying to stay ahead, so you don’t see trends in the same way that you used to. I think that has a lot to do with PR as well, for example taking a balayage and calling it an Aussie colour.”
What do you love most about your job?
Jen: ”I love the creative side of it. The ideas of what we can bring to the business, and thinking about the experience we’re creating for our clients. We spent a lot of time doing that in lockdown - coming up with new ideas around how clients can experience Linton & Mac, and how to make it fresh so it doesn’t start to feel stale.
“I really like training and educating myself as well. I learn so much and it’s something I enjoy doing. My motto is never get complacent, so I’m constantly learning and coming up with new ideas.”
Jaye: “I love that every day is kind of the same but different. We have some clients that have been with us for years, so it’s almost like catching up with friends. I get so much enjoyment from making them feel good and having deep chats - it’s almost like being their therapist! You really feel like you’ve helped them and made them feel better, which makes you feel good too. I also love motivating the team and making them feel excited about coming to work as well - that’s really important to us.”
Why are you so passionate about what you do?
Jaye: “Coming out of lockdown, a hair cut is the first thing everyone will want done because it makes you feel so much better. It’s such a nice feeling when you do someone’s hair - because they can come in feeling stressed or in a bad mood, and they leave feeling like a totally different person. Just having a wave put in your hair, or having someone do a nice shampoo treatment can make you feel so much better, and this is why we’re so passionate about what we offer.”
What’s been your biggest achievement so far?
Jen: “Our latest achievement is winning an award at the Creative Heads Awards. This was incredible! But to be honest, our first week in business was a huge achievement for us because we trebled our projections.”
Jaye: “Yeah I would say how well the salon has gone has been a massive achievement for us. We couldn’t have imagined this 5 years ago when we got the keys. Our first year goals were to get local awards, then maybe win some national awards, and we’ve just been on a roll since then.”
Jen: “We’ve got really passionate and creative people working with us, which gets you excited when you enter competitions as well. And we’ve got good relationships with product companies we work with as well, which is another big achievement as a business owner.”
What is something important you’ve learned on your business journey so far?
Jaye: “You don’t have to be doing everything!”
Jen: “Last year we slowed down a little but we were still 100 miles an hour. Jaye’s brain stresses me out sometimes - I’m definitely the slower paced one out of the two of us! But I always think about how different brains work, and how we work with each other is a big thing that I’ve learned.
“I’ve learned a lot about people and managing a team as well. This is my first time managing a team, and for a lot of the team, this is their first job. So learning how best to work as a team and seeing how different people take on a challenge has been a big learning experience.”
What’s been the most exciting or rewarding part of running your own business?
Jaye: “All the trips we’ve been on have been amazing. We’ve been to Prague, London, Manchester, and Seville. That’s definitely the most exciting part of it for me.”
Jen: “I think what we have to offer is really exciting, because Linton & Mac is a lifestyle business for us. We’ve both worked really hard at keeping in touch with clients through all of this, and keeping the good vibe going.
“Jaye and I have really grown as business women since starting. The conversations we’re having now about reopening the business are so different to when we first opened 5 years ago. It can be so easy to forget all that, but we’re now known as business women and respected for our work which is a really nice thing.”
What advice would you give to other people thinking about starting, or in the early stages of starting a business?
Jen: “Get a good accountant. We’ve had bad advice in the past which has caused us a lot of problems - so definitely make sure it’s someone you trust. “
Jaye: “Definitely get the admin side of the business sorted, as well as your digital/social media. If you’re scared of it, learn how to do it or get someone to guide you. We always try to send out our blog, keep that updated, and Jen’s been doing the emails to clients, as well as Facebook and Instagram. That’s been a massive thing for us in running our business.”
Jen: “I would also say events and collaborations are important if you’re starting a business. We like to support local companies and, in return, it helps people to support you. Events are a great marketing tool to get people into the salon, invite their friends to the event, see the space, and meet the team. It gives people a relaxed first experience with your business which will make them feel more comfortable coming back. Plus, we like to have a party!”
Why do you think it’s so important for people to support local?
Jen: “Because we need to keep the city of Aberdeen alive. There’s such a strong sense of community right now - everyone is supporting each other more which is really nice. There are so many chain restaurants and companies in Aberdeen, but we can’t forget about the independent businesses that make up our city as well.”
What are your favourite local businesses right now and why?
Jen: “I love Rosemary Sprig on Rosemount, and Red Robin Records cafe. Another favourite of mine is Artisan Growers - they do vegetable boxes and they’re so good!”
Jaye: “Pasta Plus is a hidden gem because they don’t have social media, but their food is so good. I had takeaways from them a couple of times in lockdown and it’s been so good! Koh Thai in Rosemount is another favourite of mine, as well as Rooted and Solasta Skin.”