The beauty industry has been dominated by women, but in recent years this has changed more and more. Not only are there more male beauty therapists, but there are also more men getting beauty and wellness treatments. Jared Hines, owner of Hines & Harley Men’s Grooming Lounge (pictured in top left), aimed to bring men in South Africa a better spa experience after having worked on international cruise liners and noticing the difference in options for men in South Africa. Usually, spas are marketed for women, but often service both sexes; Hines & Harley Men’s Grooming Lounge markets itself in the reverse. Having found out about Hines & Harley through a friend who is undergoing his own metamorphosis and browsing through one of the most beautiful spa websites I have come across in South Africa, of course I had questions!
Q: Becoming a member of the spa industry is not usually something that boys are encouraged to take interest in, so how did you find your way into the industry?
A: Actually, I started out studying Psychology at the University of Johannesburg. I really liked the idea of working with children, so I initially planned to specialize in pediatric psychology; but after a few weeks in and after some interesting conversations with the people in my field, I was told that if I am the type of person who attaches to people, psychology probably isn’t the best field for me to help people. After that, I worked a 9 – 5 at a bank, then I later went on to be a telemarketer…We can suffice to say that that was a terrible time in my life. Eventually, I saw an ad to study massage and everything just clicked. I think the spa industry is similar to psychology…you get to help people; for instance a guest will walk in one way and leave totally improved in mood.
Q: How was your work experience overseas?
A: I spent six months traveling around the world on board the 7 Seas Mariner. I’m originally from Morningside, Sandton, so getting to spend time working in my field in another part of the world was great. It was when I noticed the difference between what was available for people in South Africa in comparison to the rest of the world that I knew I wanted to open my own spa. Johannesburg is just the first place that I came back to after I worked on that cruise liner, and for me it’s also home, so it made sense for me to start here, but the plan is to be everywhere.
Q: Your website is very descriptive, especially the ‘About’ page for your therapists. How did you come to find the therapists when you started out?
A: Funny enough, my whole team was handpicked more so than they applied for the job. Terry, our female therapist, I found on LinkedIn and sort of poached her from her job at the time. As for Amon, well he and I worked together at The Saxon before I started my business. When he came to do his trade test, he was the only therapist to ever put me to sleep during a massage. He made me relax when nobody else ever has, and that’s when I knew I had to have him at Hines & Harley…when I asked him to come with when I open my shop, I’m thankful that he agreed. When it comes to customer service, [Matt] is the perfect guy and our guests are always pleased with having him on the other end of the phone whenever they call in.
Q: Considering you have only been open for less than a year, how have you been measuring the success of the lounge?
A: I like to gage our success on our guests. We have had very good and/or constructive feedback from our guests, and in my industry repeat customers are always a good sign. From how our guests are treated by our reception desk operator, the therapist they visit, and even their experience in finding out about the lounge (for instance through the website), we try to create the most effortless experience for the guest. When I first started working in this industry, on the cruise liner, I wanted to get more experience doing working in my field before going into business for myself. That taught me so much and really prepared me in terms of showing me just how well guests should be treated when they come inquire or come to do a treatment. That prepared me for the type of customer service experience I wanted to establish at Hines & Harley.
Q: What are a few of the things that you find aren’t so pleasing about your industry at present? How have you tried to combat some of those things?
A: There aren’t very many, I think only about two or three. One of them is that it really disturbs me that people in my field don’t get paid very well. South Africa’s spa industry is not very well regulated yet, so I have noticed that you will have an expectation as a therapist about your pay, but that it’s often never met. At my lounge, we tried to transition therapists from earning commission to have a profit sharing scheme in the business. We also try not to have our therapists work crazy hours this way, as there is less of a need to worry about pay…the idea is that having a happy staff will lead to happy treatments and happy guests.
Another issue I’ve noticed so far is that because there isn’t yet a regulating body, that I have seen in the market at least, anybody can call themselves anything. How they run their spas is what they deem appropriate, and that isn’t always how a spa isn’t meant to be run according to what therapists have studied. Right now, we just try to go by the book when it comes to the standards that we uphold in the lounge right now.
Finally, which is probably the most trivial pet peeve, is when therapists push products during a treatment. I have been on both ends and I understand why they do, but from a guest point of view, it can really interrupt the experience.
Q: I noticed that you retail different products right now, is there a product line of your own in the future?
A: Yes, that’s always been a dream. Right now, we are finalizing the packaging for a product that we hope to launch this winter. I want to create a lifestyle with Hines & Harley. It’s not just about getting a treatment done, but it’s about improving the home lives of our guests as well. For instance, in my opinion the biggest change you can give someone is their skin. I love being able to watch someone transform literally before my eyes as I give them a facial. So one of the ways that we help our guests at home is through hosting different event every month, updating our blog about different treatments, and walking guests through their own at home treatments so that they are well taken care of even if they aren’t in the lounge.
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