RSVP Magazine

Businesswoman of the month: Karan Burke Ebano, Ballinteer

She established her one-stop shop for hair and beauty in 2008 with only four staff members. Now Karan Burke, owner of Ebano in Ballinteer, Dublin, has grown her team to 20 and hasn’t looked back. In fact, she thrives on success and is constantly looking to improve her skills.

Here, she describes a typical day at the salon, what motivates her, and why Victoria Beckham is her role model

How did your career path lead to Ebano?

I had worked in every aspect of the beauty industry, from make-up counters to tutoring part-time. I always had two to three jobs on the go because I was afraid to turn down any opportunity. At one stage I was working for Dior full-time, tutoring a beauty course one night a week, spending two nights a week working as an Elemis spa therapist and working 20 hours in a bar. I knew how to work hard, but never had the intentions to open my own salon or clinic. The opportunity to buy into the Ebano franchise came the week I finished with an elite salon group. I had been there for four years and I’d been convinced to give up my teaching to focus on managing the salon, but it wasn’t enough. I fancied a new challenge, however I didn’t think three weeks later I would be running my own salon with three other team members.

What’s the most important lesson you have learnt over the course of your career?

I’ve learned that some people aren’t loyal to you, they are loyal to their needs of you, and in most cases once their needs change so do their loyalties. It’s a hard lesson, but a very valuable one.

What would a typical day for you be?

Mornings in our house are manic! Every day starts at 7am, I wish I could rise earlier but I’m a night owl and only creep into bed a couple of hours beforehand. I always get myself ready before the kids wake up, have a coffee and then run around getting them ready for school. We all leave together and while my husband brings the kids to school, I head on to open the salon or clinic. I work six days a week, but finish early two of those days to bring the girls dancing. Otherwise, my day consists of back-to-back appointments of semi-permanent brow and lip treatments. I could also be on the desk in the clinic or in the main salon. I spend my lunch wisely by training – it’s the only time I can fit it in! – and I then eat on the go. I do most of my paper work and business development late at night when the kids are all settled in bed.

Do Irish women follow hair trends?

Yes, they do indeed. They love hair trends and are getting more and more creative with them. The biggest trend at the moment is American tailoring, it gives every client a chance to create a bespoke colour unique to them.

What have been the highlights of your time at Ebano Ballinteer?

My biggest highlight was the opportunity to opt out of the Ebano franchise. It came in 2010 and to this day it has been the best decision I’ve made. It gave me the freedom I needed to run my business the way I do. But there have been so many other highlights too. My sister came to work alongside me in 2011, she’s an amazing stylist and person to be around each day. The salon came highly commended next to Dylan Bradshaw in The Irish Times’ best shops in 2014. Growing my team from four to 20, and launching EpiBrow in Ireland which is what lead us to open our aesthetic clinic in 2015. This year we’re up for Best Beauty Salon and I’ve been selected as one of the lucky participants in the Going for Growth initiative.

What is the biggest challenge to date?

Maintaining the high level of professionalism for our clients to ensure they have the same treatment each and every visit. This was a lot easier when there were only a few of us, but with 20 in the team now it’s a lot more difficult.

What motivates you?

Success – I love to better myself as well as those around me. I’m always striving for the perfect work-life balance and do believe it exists.

Does the glass ceiling exist for women?

I don’t think it exists anymore for women, although the obstacles along the way often hold them back or redirect their path rather than overcoming them.

Who are your business role models?

I love Victoria Beckham, when so many people doubted her in the fashion industry, had an opinion on her or was quick to judge her, she never gave up or changed her direction. She remained focused on her dream – and look at the brand she has created.

Are you able to maintain a work-life balance?

No, this is something I struggle with. Running a business and staying ahead of the industry can consume you, but that aside, if I was to slow down and achieve a balance I know I wouldn’t be where we are today.

If you weren’t in your current position, what career would you like to pursue?

I’m obsessed with clothes so I would pursue a career in the fashion industry. I love being creative with different looks and enjoy dressing up every day.

Ebano Ballinteer,

Ballinteer Shopping Centre, Unit 1-2, Ballinteer Ave, Ballinteer, Dublin 16, (01) 2987921,

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