Discussing beauty, business and the Middle East with Duck & Dry’s Yulia Rorstrom

Leaving finance behind to make her mark on the beauty industry, Yulia Rorstrom’s career history is nothing short of extraordinary. In 2014, equipped with vision and raw entrepreneurship, Yulia embarked on her Duck & Dry journey, which resulted in her opening the flagship Chelsea salon.

Yulia now boasts salons in several other popular London locations, including Oxford Circus, Mayfair and Spitalfields. Each salon possesses stylish interiors and provides a beauty haven for women to receive chic cuts and bouncy blow drys, all the while with a glass of prosecco in hand.

Last year, Yulia established sister brands Duck & File and Duck & Pluck to offer wider beauty services to her ever-growing client base. We spoke to the entrepreneur about her path towards establishing Duck & Dry, plans to establish salons across the Middle East, and her vision for the brand’s future.

MESA: What is the story behind Duck & Dry?

Yulia: Duck & Dry is a beauty brand of blow dry bars across London and a range of hair care products. The first flagship store in Chelsea opened its doors in 2014 and since then we’ve launched two more locations, in Mayfair and Soho. The first franchise opened in the Old Spitalfields Market, which is a really exciting step for the company growth. The focus is on uncompromising quality yet affordable in a fun and vibrant environment. Developing the Duck & Dry product line has been a real labour of love for me. I wanted to bottle the Duck & Dry experience and create a capsule edit of styling solutions that fulfil our salon needs as well as easy to use for our clients at home when we are not at hand. It is a small batch production in Somerset that fuses modern science with natural active ingredients.

MESA: Tell us more about Duck & Dry products…

Yulia: With the brand following growing quickly and to meet the needs of the stylists and clients, we developed a range of hair care and styling essentials for a professional blow-dry. Dreamt up in London and crafted in Somerset, each product is carefully formulated fusing modern science with natural active ingredients. Delivering results while being kind to your hair, all products we exude the signature scent of the wild English meadows for the ultimate Duck & Dry experience.

MESA: What is your background? Did you work in salons before starting Duck & Dry?

Yulia: My background is not related to the beauty industry at all! I left behind a successful career in finance to start Duck & Dry. I always wanted to start my own business and establish a fun brand. I felt inspired by the blow dry bars during my visits to the US and Japan–I loved the experiential element and decided I wanted to create something more than just a blow dry bar/hair salon. I opened our first Duck & Dry in Chelsea almost five years ago, which is our flagship store. It quite swiftly became the go-to blow dry bar in London and was quickly followed by locations in Soho, Spitalfields–and now Mayfair.

MESA: What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today?

Yulia: From very early on I was under no impression that it was going to be an easy road. In a way, I was very much prepared that it will be quite a tough ride. But I think going into business you have immense pressure and it is high risk so I think one of the best pieces of advice that my parents gave me was not to invest more than what you can afford to lose. That helped to keep things in perspective and think what is the worst that can happen! At least in the early days, I would advise to put in the money that wouldn’t cause too much destruction to your life if you lost it.

MESA: Your salons have eye-catching interior designs, why was this visual element important for you?

Yulia: The design inspiration mainly comes from my travels, I also love looking at interior design magazines and follow trendy design accounts. Unlike typical salons, I wanted to create a beautiful, buzzy and welcoming space with an open plan seating that can be enjoyed by everyone. You will find splashes of our signature pastels, greenery and natural materials such as wood and marble to add a sense of luxury.

MESA: Why have you decided to branch out to the Middle East and what excites you about this prospect?

Yulia: As a brand, we are focusing to expand and enter new geographies, especially in countries where women enjoy getting regular blow-dries/manicures at trendy salons and are at the forefront of the beauty scene. And also because we already have a lot of Middle Eastern clients in London who admire the brand, it is reassuring that Duck & Dry would fit very well within the cultural mindset.

MESA: What has been your career highlight thus far?

Yulia: As a brand, we have crossed our 100 000th salon client which is an amazing milestone showing how Duck & Dry as a brand resonated with so many clients. Launching the Duck & Dry product line was also a dream come true and it was a real labour of love for me and the team – we did in-house testing and real-time feedback with our stylists and clients.

MESA: What are your top hair tip for MESA readers?

Yulia: To achieve volume and bounce it is important to use a light shampoo and conditioner that will not weigh the hair down but instead provide a perfect foundation for that ‘just out of salon’ blow-dry.

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