Toni Kenny, Laura Tippler, Rebecca Smith and Alex Haake launched Girl Gang XO in October, realising a life-long dream to run a business together.
Now the four friends are intending to spread their Girl Power message, creating a brand which they say is inspired by and aimed at real women rather than unattainable social media images.
“From when we were at school, in the same group of mates, we always spoke about how great it would be to work for ourselves instead of someone else,” explains Toni. “Because we all do different things – beauty, make-up, nails and hair – it made it easier and it was just more fun to do it together.
“We’re all ‘90s girls, we love that era, so we’re keen to have our own version of Girl Power and we wanted to create something that was really inclusive. When you look on a lot of salon Instagram accounts there are all these gorgeous girls and you feel, I couldn’t go in there because I don’t look like that. Ours is full of real girls because that’s what we are and it’s what we want our Girl Gang to be.”
The four are all 27 except nail technician Laura who, at 28, they jokingly describe as the Kris Jenner-style momager of the group.
“I’m the sensible one, the one who worries a bit more about things,” she laughs. “But I think that’s why we work so well together because we have that balance. We’re all very similar personalities and we know each other inside out because we’ve been mates for so long, but we’ve got different things that we’re good at which we can bring to the business.”
“And there is no boss in Girl Gang XO,” adds Rebecca, “we’re all the bosses and we make every decision together. We vote on everything and if it’s not 100% then we don’t do it, that’s been our approach from the start.”
The friends began looking for their first salon premises two years ago and eventually decided on the former Hartley’s jam factory in Aintree, just off the East Lancs Road.
“Because we’re all from Kirkby, we had a lot of clients there but we’d been working independently for years and we had customers coming to us from all over Liverpool so we wanted to make it as easy to get to as possible,” says Toni.
Since they launched there, they’ve been overwhelmed by the response they’ve had, and now they’re ready to take the business to the next level, promoting their message of ‘support your global Girl Gang’.
“Being friendly is a big thing for Girl Gang XO, we want everyone to walk in and feel instantly welcome, and walk out feeling more confident about themselves,” says Laura. “We don’t just want to be for girls in their 20s, we want every age whether they’re teenagers, mums, nans, there’s no limit to who can be in our gang.
“That’s been one of the benefits of waiting until we were a bit older to open the business – we’ve had more experience and we have a really clear idea of what we want.”
“We love our salon, and we have a team of 18 there who are amazing, but from day one we’ve wanted to be more than just one salon, we want to be a cosmetic brand because we know a lot of girls from outside the city want to look like Liverpool girls,” adds make-up artist Alex.
“We’ve already taken Girl Gang XO out to do pop-ups in bars and clubs, we’ve been in River Island and we did the Kylie Jenner Adidas launch, now we want to get GG everywhere.”
The four have expansion in their sights and they’re looking forward to making it happen in 2019.
“We’d really like to be the PrettyLittle Thing of the cosmetics world, that’s our inspiration.” says Toni. “We’ll always be strongly rooted in Liverpool because without us growing up in the city there would be none of this, but were excited for where things are going next.”
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