Lucy and Stephen Marr are well-known faces of hair and beauty in Auckland. Their businesses are known for great customer service, as well as pushing the creative envelope. Always experimenting and looking for new opportunities, they now have three Stephen Marr hair salons and two Lucy and the Powder Rooms and cater to NZ’s fashion elite, as well as a loyal customer base throughout Auckland. Their latest venture is The Dressing Room (located alongside Lucy and the Powder Room at The Department Store in Takapuna ), an intimate retail space that showcases a careful edit of lingerie and intimates for the modern woman. Verve caught up with Stephen and Lucy the other day and they shared insights into their businesses, what drives and inspires them.
What inspired Stephen to open the salons and Lucy to open The Powder Room?
Because of the business names, it’s perceived that Stephen does this, Lucy does that. But really we have a pretty unique collaboration across all businesses and set up all three salons together, starting with Ponsonby in 1999 and then the Powder Room came later. Our inspiration came from meeting and realising that we could make an amazing business together.
And now you have The Dressing Room – how did that come about?
Our business is all about communication, and we really hear a lot about what people like and don’t like in fashion. Over time we really got the sense that buying lingerie wasn’t a great experience for many: the boutique experience just wasn’t there for that product and the selection was quite poor. Lucy knew this too, from personal experience! We knew many brands were making great products, especially local brands. We have an amazing space within Lucy and the Powder Room, and we saw an opportunity to showcase a new collection here.
The Dressing Room is located within Lucy and the Powder Room at The Department Store in Takapuna? Why is this?
The space was designed by our friend and collaborator Katie Lockhart. It’s calm, bright, beautiful – the perfect place to indulge the senses. We also saw that there’s amazing synergy between the industry-leading beauty products on offer we have at the Powder Room and the beautiful selection of lingerie. Because the edit is good, our clients at the Powder Room love The Dressing Room, and vice versa.
How did you choose the brands that would feature?
We have the good fortune to work with many of the amazing brands NZ has through the salon and Powder Room. When it came time to select product, we knew who to call. The ranges are so amazing, so it was exciting for us to showcase local talent and it’s lovely to work with these companies on a different level. We don’t stock anything and everything – The Dressing Room will always be a really personal, highly curated edit for the modern woman.
The selection seems quite vintage, with lots of soft-cup bras and slips. Is this a new trend in lingerie?
There is a return to the more vintage-looking styles, but it has been led largely by the consumer. Women want to be comfortable. They want natural, yet indulgent fabrics and detailing. Mostly, they want to celebrate their body shape, whether they are busty or almost boobless! We have sought to have a range of styles that work to make you feel incredibly sexy in your own shape, whether that’s with a soft-cup or an underwire bra, or a knee-length silk slip. And our staff are amazing at fitting.
Your businesses espouse a philosophy of beauty and looking good. Can you tell us about this?
Laugh and love as much as you can. Be grateful and work on being a happy person. It will really result in how you look and feel. Other than that, we all know, everything in moderation!
Is there anyone who you would consider to be your inspiration?
We have been in the fortunate position to connect with many inspiring people through our business, many are clients. We’ve learned a lot about multiple businesses and personalities, and many of these people have given us guidance and support along the way. For that we really value them.
What is you own particular favourite hairstyle / style / trend of all time?
There are so many options, but you can tell when people are wearing a style or the style is wearing them – it’s most important to be comfortable in your own skin. That’s our philosophy across hair / make-up / fashion…you need to feel good to look good.
How do you ensure that your salons always deliver a quality product?
We have an amazing team, and always work on recruiting only the best. When they’re working with us, we really focus on education and strive to offer a super supportive environment for people to learn and grow. We also try and make it fun. We feel like we are all lucky to be doing what we love, and this shows in the work we do and how it’s delivered to our clients.
Tell us about some of the biggest challenges you have faced running your own businesses?
Anyone will tell you owning your own business is very hard work, especially balancing life with a young family. The economy has affected consumer choices for many businesses, and we need to be nimble to respond to this. We do so by focusing on service and quality.
The best part of having about having your own business?
Our clients and collaborators. Meeting and working with creative, inspiring people from all walks of life.