A Derry hairdressing salon opened the doors to its new premises along the quay on Thursday for the first time since a large fire almost forced them to close in March.
RoCo eco-organic hair and beauty salon was located on the Strand Road when the fire that destroyed the Mandarin Palace Karma building forced the business to close its doors.
The Strand Road building was rendered uninhabitable by construction experts but despite the loss of premises RoCo co-owners, Ronan Stewart and Connor Grant, opened a temporary salon in Fountain Street and then Waterloo Place.
“To be honest with you we came really close to shutting down the business,” confirmed Ronan.
“It’s been a real struggle these last few months but thanks to the help and support of so many people we have been able to relocate to an amazing premises along the River Foyle.”
RoCo opened in Derry in November 2011 and at the time of the fire the business employed 18 people. As a result of the blaze four people lost their jobs but it is hoped that the new premises will allow Ronan and Connor to create several more jobs.
“We had plans to expand the business before the fire but now we are back on our feet and in a lovely new premises those plans are back on the table again. We have a lot of ambitions for the place and it is our hope that we will be able create some extra employment too,” said Connor.
The new RoCo premises had been used by several restaurants in the past which meant when the Ronan and Connor identified the building as a place for them to set-up shop they had to embark renovate the entire structure.
“Myself and Connor have always been passionate about the whole concept of up-cycling materials and furniture. Our hair styling stations are made from 30 year-old timber. A local furniture designer called Todd Gfeller put everything together and we are delight with how they turned out,” said Ronan.
RoCo’s interior truly is striking. There is a counter made from 5000 two pence pieces and there are radiator covers made from old wooden pallets.
“We had a tremendous team of people working here and every single person who worked on the design and construction of the salon was from Derry. We wanted this project to be completely local. Our architect was Gradon Architects and they were awesome. All of our lighting is LED lighting and we even got in an energy expert to work out how best for us to save and use energy,” said Connor.
One of the most eye-catching elements of the new RoCo is the view and it’s something Ronan enjoys just as much as all RoCo’s clients.
“What a view we have here - it’s amazing. We want this part of the town to be a place where people want to come. It’s been a long battle to get here but with the help of all our staff and their families we have done it. We also have to say thank you to the staff at the Mandarin Palace who helped us move everything here too - we would have been lost without them.”
For more information visit the RoCo Eco-Salon Facebook page.