Tribus Urbaines – new curly hair experts

At the start of 2017 while surfing online we came across the freshly looking Instagram account of Tribus Urbaines. Not knowing what this name hides we discovered that it is soon-to-be open hair salon in Lausanne. Since we are extremely curious about new things ! especially places we have directly arranged a meeting with lovely Sylvie who was the first in contact. This meeting led us to paying Tribus Urbaines full team a visit at their salon and we of course asked them some questions…

Les Toiles: Hello ladies! Can you please introduce yourselves and tell us what is Tribus Urbaines, where is it and how did the concept of the salon start?

 Tribus Urbaines: Tribus Urbaines is a global business dedicated to curly, super curly and kinky hair. We started the idea in order to offer a salon focused on taking care and styling the curls of our clients. As you might not know each curl is different and we offer a personal answer and a specific treat for each of them. We really want our clients to embrace their natural curl and texture of their hair.
For now, it is a start. By next year our ambition is to propose our own first products that will be silicon, paraben and sulfate free. In the meantime, we are trying to use and sell our clients the most adapted and the safest products for curly hair that we can find. In the future we also dream to be able to offer a training for professional hairdressers so that the craft and skills can be shared and spread.

LT: Can you please tell us what role each of you has in the salon?

TB: Yes, sure. I am Sylvie Makela and I am in charge of communication, marketing and product development. I entered the project way back in 2014 when a colleague of mine approached me and asked me this one simple question: “Why can’t I find a professional hairstylist who could take care of my natural kinky hair? I am willing and able to pay hundreds Swiss francs for that.” And she added: “I don’t even want to talk about finding proper and safe products!”. That is when we decided we should start our own business!

I am Carine Foretia, the “We should start our own business” girl. My role is to take care of the finances and administration of Tribus Urbaines. It took us three years to open our salon, because it was so difficult to find a real professional expert for curly hair. Two years ago, we found it. We met a passionate girl, who is all about her curly hair and all about the curly movement in general. She was about to leave for a full year training in New York to get specialized in styling and cutting curly to kinky hair. We waited for her to come back to open the TRIBUS URBAINES’ first salon in Lausanne.

 Here, I come. I am Mahine Tchiakpe, a professional hairdresser specialized in curly hair. Styling hair is my true passion! I love making the client look great and proud of their curly hair. Working with curly hair is so much fun and versatile. I just love it! I see our chair in the salon as much more than just a seat. It is a place to connect with our clients and their needs. They deserve someone who understands their hair struggles, them and their journey. For me it is the best way to get inspired and to have the direction to develop TRIBUS URBAINES. We opened this year in January 17th. We are fully booked since that day one and we have now more than 600 followers on our Facebook profile and Instagram. I am sure this is just the beginning of the long life of TRIBUS URBAINBES!

LT: How has the local market responded to the new salon specialising in this type of hair treatments? 

TB: The response was quick and extremely positive. We can definitely feel that there was a considerable need. Finding products for curly hair is difficult, but doable; but finding a good hairdresser who is going to know that curly hair need special attention in the way it is treated and cut was practically impossible in our region by now.

LT: What is the most difficult part in treating curly hair? What are the challenges for the hairdressers?

TB: The volume is the trickiest part when it comes to curly hair. You have to shape hair in its real volume, a bit like sculpture. Therefore, you can only do it when the hair is dry. You cut, you wash, you define the curl and then you adjust the cut. I won’t give all my secrets here. Interested professionals should come to our trainings 😉 !  One very important thing to know though: with every client, you have to analyse the curl pattern, the density, the texture and the length in order to give it the best cut. The second specific aspect is hydration. Curly hair is dry by definition. You really have to find a hydration routine and the best adapted hair products and oils for each client. If curly hair is properly hydrated, the curls definition will be better and easier to style. Conditioning and deep hydration is key to address when it comes to curly hair.

LT: Why did you decide to open your own business? What were the challenges and what was the most exciting moments in the process?

TB: The market was there. It was just waiting for us to notice it. Too many curly girls have been waiting for too long to be taken care of. We really wanted that to happen for our own sake and for all the curly heads in Switzerland. I guess like for all starting business challenges are investment and cash flow. We are working on it. 

Other unpredictable challenges were to find a partner to provide us with adapted quality products before producing our own line. First, we wanted to work with established and good brand like Deva Curl or Shea Moisture. But they wouldn’t offer us retail price and shipment arrangement. So we had to find a European brand. We currently work with Mizani (a L’Oreal Brand). We are very happy with the compromise. However, we are working hard to be able to offer our own line very soon. It will be the best while we are developing it with the client, directly inspired by their feedbacks and needs.

The most exciting part was the great encounters we met that allowed us to start and keep going with TRIBUS URBAINES. Sometimes we had the impression that the Stars, God or Spirits are making it happen just as we need, the best timing for us. It is amazing and it encourages us to think that TRIBUS URBAINES was meant to be. We have been meeting the right people at the right place and the right time, very naturally. We found a location for our salon right downtown Lausanne by chance. We are mentored by a great woman, Katell, who has owned her own business since several years now and shares her own experiences with us. Charline, with her 20 year of experience in the hair industry and 10 years as coach and instructor at Dessange, helps us for the professional workshops, professional contents and shootings.

LT: Can you tell us a bit more on the importance of good hair style and how much does it influence our look?

TB: Hair is the pillar of our look and our personality. As cliché as it may sound, curly girls have been the target of many people before this « Nappy hair movement » came out. We were criticised and people used to make fun of our hair. Unlike women with straight hair, some of us are struggling with embracing this texture in its natural state. It’s not « only hair » it’s also a part of our history and our way to accept and asserting ourselves.

LT: Can you describe the worst haircut for 2017? Do’s and don’ts for 2017.

TB: The « Bob » haircut with no layers is one of the worst. The hair looks like a pyramid: flat at the top and all voluminous at the ends. You have to add elevation to a bob haircut on curly hair! Don’t cut curly hair wet or straight! We love short androgynous cut (especially on kinky hair). The exact type of hair cut that Sylvie is wearing. We recommend as well to bring light, shape and simply enhance natural curl!

LT: For those who want to use your services, where can they find you, what are the opening times and what is the best way to make an appointment with you? 

TB: All people with curly hair and that are interested in having a haircut can find us at the Passage Saint-François 2 in Lausanne. We are open from Tuesday to Friday between 10h-19h and as well on Saturdays between 9h30-17h. You can either make an appointment through our Facebook page, our website with the button « Book online », or through the phone for those less digitally connected: 0797380575. We take booking over the phone from Tuesday to Friday between 10h-18h and on weekends on Saturday between 9h30-16h.

Thank you Tribus Urbaines for letting us share your story !

We wish you and your business tons of success !

Photographs by: Jagoda Wisniewska

Realised in Lausanne, February 2017

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About the Author : Jagoda

Jagoda takes & makes photographs talk to you! She loves to meet new people, ask weird questions, explore new places, make photobooks & read science books. With a curious mind, she takes care of our research & interviews, and once she decides to meet you, she will definitely want to photograph you!

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