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HomeUntold storiesBuilding Trust and Tradition: Kristine's Journey in Copenhagen's Hairdressing Scene

Building Trust and Tradition: Kristine’s Journey in Copenhagen’s Hairdressing Scene

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“Hair is hair and people are people, it doesn’t matter if they are Danish or internationals in Denmark”, says Kristine Aurbakken owner of Frisør Aurbakken salon in Copenhagen which has now been open for 25 years. Kristine informs that when she was a student, the standard of customer service back then inspired her to open her own business. 

Danish vs. international customers 

“I wanted to create a hyggelig experience for my customers which I could only do if I started my salon”. Apart from the promise of every customer being treated individually, one can also expect the best coffee to be served while they are in the hot seat. After working as a hairdresser for nearly 30 years, she believes that the only difference between Danish and international customers is the time they are willing to spend in the salon. “Danes want to leave as soon as possible while internationals like spending time and having a conversation” she says. 

Kristine jogs back her memory and recalls that her reputation was built over the years through teaching and maintaining good relationships with students and colleagues, contributing to a high level of trust and interest from potential employees. To maintain her name and the quality of her service, she never expanded her operations beyond her salon in Copenhagen. 

Working with international staff

“Kristine is the most friendly, free-spirited and kind person in the hairdressers’ community in Copenhagen,” says Anton Zabolotnyi. The Ukrainian hairdresser rents a seat at Kristine’s salon who is currently learning the ropes from her and vice versa. No two hairdressers are the same. While Anton, owing to working with Ukrainian customers who are very particular about what they want, is very technical with his approach, Kristine is more relaxed and free-spirited. Both believe they can learn from each other and their styles. 

Danish customers are still not fully comfortable in Anton’s chair, but Kristine believes this will change with time. Most of her clients are long-time regulars, with some families spanning generations. “There is a high level of trust and comfort here. It’s challenging for an international to earn this kind of trust from Danes,” Anton notes. However, he believes that Danish customers are more relaxed than international customers who are more demanding. 

While the salon is at capacity at the moment, Kristine is always open to helping hairdressers, Danish or internationals find their feet in the industry. She has hired staff members from Turkey, Norway and the Philippines in the past.  

Advice for future hairdressers

Kristine advises international hairdressers starting a business to never underprice services for friends and family. She emphasizes the importance of charging what it’s worth, providing high-quality service, and promptly rectifying any mistakes. “It is important for you as a business owner to establish to your customers that this is how you put food on the table for your family and you need to demand the deserved compensation for your services”. 

When it comes to attracting Danish customers for international hairdressers she advises that learning the language will help immensely. “ This is about hair and the way one looks. Many Danes do not feel comfortable expressing their needs in English. But, if their international hairdresser understood them and spoke to them in a Danish+English language combo it would be easier to build a relationship with them” 

Plans for the salon

Kristine envisions creating a more spacious and relaxing hair-washing area with quiet music to enhance the customer experience. Although space is currently limited, she plans to make adjustments to improve it. She is committed to supporting Anton’s presence in the salon, believing it’s beneficial to have a male hairdresser. As Kristine hopes to reduce her hours, she looks forward to Anton taking on more responsibilities over time.

“I do not want to relocate or move to a bigger place because my customers tell me it will not be the same. I think the reason they like coming here is because of our uniqueness and attention to detail. This is our place.” Kristine concludes. 

Pratik Hariharan
Pratik Hariharan
Pratik is a freelance reporter covering business, tech, and culture, delivering insights praised for their clarity, accuracy, and relevance. He has contributed to platforms such as Horasis.org, the Nordic Blockchain Association, the Copenhagen Post, the Last Week in Denmark newsletter alongside his weekly newsletter, RentCulture.

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