Talk to any single mum and they will probably tell you, with a look of sheer exhaustion, that there just aren’t enough hours in a day. Between getting the kids ready for school and washing off sticky ‘jam hands’ after breakfast, putting in the grind at work, and managing a household that seems to become messy as soon as it’s cleaned – not to mention that teeny weeny sliver of time reserved for a spot of self care – many mums might say that they would love to start a business venture if only they had more time.
Dalanda Diang, a 37-year old single parent originally from Guinea, decided one day that time would no longer stand in her way. Having arrived in the city at 15 years old with a basic understanding of English, she utilised her passion for hairstyling and worked her way up the central London hairdressing ladder. After deciding that she wanted to work on her own terms, she quit her previous salon role and worked from home before the pandemic hit. Thanks to her skills and clear dedication to her craft, she slowly built up a loyal client base through online reviews and trusted word of mouth referrals.
It wasn’t long before Dalanda had built up a strong reputation, allowing her to open her own high-end Fulham salon, where she is now a port-of-call for other busy women who can vent their problems while getting their 60 minutes of peace in her salon chair. All the while, Dalanda cares for her two young daughters who, at ages six and nine, she calls her ‘inspiration’ and strives to give them the best start in life through dedication and hard work.
In fact, her tip for overcoming a lack of time and energy is to frame her daughters as her main source of motivation: ‘I work so they can be proud of me, be ambitious for their own futures, and so that I can give them the best start in life that I can financially’. If that’s not what you call a super mum, we don’t know what is!
Here, Dalanda talks more about fulfilling her dream of opening her very own salon, how she avoids burnout, and the inspiration behind her iconic ‘West London look’ that’s not only trending, but has her diary booked up weeks in advance.
A day in the life
“Daily life is busy and lively and no two days are the same! I walk my daughters to school nearby and then I get to spend the rest of the day with wonderful women, being creative, and styling hair. I then get to catch up on the admin side of running my business while my daughters are in bed. Life is demanding but rewarding right now – but I couldn’t be happier.
“As a single mum and business entrepreneur, there are so many demands on my time. For that reason, I do have to structure my work day to balance everything out. By offering one-to-one salon appointments, not only do my clients get my undivided attention, but I can also plan my day more effectively.”
Launching her dream business
“My dream was always to work for myself and open my own London salon catering for women who had to have exceptional hair that reflected their lifestyles and aspirations. The pandemic meant I had to put that dream on hold for a while, but as we hairdressers were allowed to work again, I noticed more and more women coming to me, recommended by friends and who wanted a certain look.
“I’m so proud that I’m living the London dream and showing my two daughters that you really can make business dreams come true if you are willing to work hard enough for it.”
The West London look
"It’s the glossy, full-bodied head of hair favoured by celebrities such as the Duchess of Cambridge, Alesha Dixon, and Angellica Bell, but that you can often only achieve through the careful and discrete application of weave extensions.
“Over the last six months, demand has been such for my ‘West London Look’ that I’m now able to open a salon in Fulham on an appointment-only basis catering to busy women that require one-to-one salon attention. I’ve realised that there is a huge demand for discrete natural hair extensions for women that want their hair to reflect their life aspirations. Extensions do look great and can be easy to manage with the right care.
“I ask my clients about their lifestyle so I know how they like to wear their hair and the demands on their time. This affects how they will care for their extensions. And the braid underlay for all styles of extensions need to be well done to ensure the extensions stay in place as intended.”
Words of wisdom
“My top tip for working mums is to work hard, be determined – and keep going! Even though I’ve achieved my dream of opening a salon and gaining a growing customer base, I’d like to open several salons across the UK.”
Dalanda Hair Salon can be found at 482 Fulham Road, London, SW6 5NH. Salon opening hours are 9am-5pm Monday to Saturday and all clients are seen by appointment only. To book an appointment or for enquiries, please visit www.dalandahair.co.uk
Follow Dalanda on Instagram.