When we first wrote about COCOdry, we described them as a hair salon that wouldn’t cut or dye your hair. They’re a blowdry bar that specialises in hair styling and washing instead.
After being inspired by the concept and its popularity overseas, Kim and Shan wanted to replicate it here.
It took nearly a year of careful planning before they launched COCOdry in Bangsar on December 7, 2019.
Once they did, the reception was better than expected and they managed to gain a substantial following within months through educating the market on this unfamiliar concept.
“We spent the first two months building the brand and sharing the natural products we carry and services offered through various platforms,” Kim told Vulcan Post in a catch-up interview.
“When we first launched, up to 30% of our customers were originally from overseas. We grew from a handful of customers a day to up to 20 per day just right before the MCO,” she added.
Of course, when the MCO hit, COCOdry was then forced to close its doors like all other hair salons and barbers.
Finding A Way To Pivot
“With only slightly above 3 months of operations, our go-to market’s minimum viable product (MVP) was to deploy the brick and mortar element to drive revenue,” Kim said.
“So, with MCO in place and no physical operations were possible, there was literally RM0 income coupled with high operating costs such as rental and wages.”
Kim and Shan then began wondering what they could pivot to doing in the meantime while adding value to the community they had already built.
In early April, they launched COCOdry’s e-commerce business, selling hair products and treatments to an amazing response, Kim said.
Despite every other company trying to do the same, COCOdry decided to stand out by offering buy 1 free 1 promotions.
With the extra time they had from not servicing customers in-person, they channelled all remaining resources into improving their online presence and maintaining community relationships.
“We’ve posted countless videos, ranging from seasonal messages like getting ready for Raya during MCO to hair tutorials and simple yet important short clips spreading positivity and joy,” Kim shared.
“Behind the scenes, we also have very supportive investors and our landlord who has been very understanding throughout this period.”
Doing Better Than Before
On June 10, COCOdry was finally allowed to reopen, and we wanted to know what the response has been like so far.
“It did not just pick right back up, it actually did better than before!” Kim exclaimed. “50% of our customers paid us a visit because of our constant engagement and the content we put up during MCO.”
This alleviated her initial concerns that customers would not come due to worries over non-essential expenditures and the close proximity when getting their hair done.
All of their booking slots are either full or nearly full since reopening, although social distancing SOPs that reduced their full capacity also played a role here.
With the new SOPs creating additional costs for hair service operators alongside slightly reduced cashflow, COCOdry will have to ensure it has enough runway to stay afloat until business goes back to normal.
Kim shared that they actually have sufficient capital from their previous fundraising to support the business through this period.
“Not forgetting, the promising first week’s revenue suggest early signs that the L-shape recovery most people are worried about may just be accelerated.”
“Personally, for the past weeks, I observed public spaces are progressively returning to normal, restaurants are being filled up, and our beloved traffic jams are back. The new normal is not so foreign after all. I’m definitely cautiously optimistic,” she added.
A Hair Salon’s New Normal
In line with government SOPs, here’s what daily operations at COCOdry look like now.
The staff wear face shields, face masks and hand gloves as per their dressing guideline, and only 6 clients are allowed into COCOdry at any given time. They’ll then be seated 2 metres apart from one another.
Services are rendered on an appointment basis, as most of their regulars are already familiar with their online booking system.
Before one can enter the salon, a screening will be carried out. Each time a customer is done and leaves, the equipment and space they used will be sanitised.
“Unfortunately, we are running on a limited service model for the foreseeable feature as we are not allowed to provide any of our more tai tai products such as washing [hair] on seats and massages,” Kim added.
No Room For Doubts
With COCOdry offering a still-unfamiliar concept here, we wondered if Kim ever had any second thoughts or doubts about starting it, and even moreso with the current pandemic.
This is especially since one would assume that their main customers are those who want blowouts for events mainly, and those aren’t back in full-swing either.
“To say that I have not doubted myself even before I started the business would be a lie,” she admitted.
But I like to see doubt from a different perspective. It is my internal check and balance, which would further strengthen my thoughts on why I decided to start this in the first place.Kim, founder of COCOdry
To her, a woman shouldn’t only put on makeup, dress up, and do her hair for client meetings, nice family dinners, or other special events.
“A woman should be able to do any of the above as and when she feels like it. It is about making you feel positive and confident anywhere, always. That is what we believe in and are trying to educate our community.”
With this in mind, COCOdry is powering on, and the current plan during this crisis is to improve their cashflow in the short to medium term while growing their e-commerce store for natural products.
“We will also take this time to upskill the team and learn with a goal to manufacture COCOdry’s own hair products soon,” Kim shared.
- You can read our previous feature on COCOdry here.
Featured Image Credit: COCOdry