It's the mane attraction

Find a name that can cut it and your hair salon's in business. Just ask Max of Switzerland, in Suffolk.
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The Independent Online

Now here's a coincidence. I was chatting with a headmaster the other day, and somehow we got on to the subject of motivation. His motivation.

Now here's a coincidence. I was chatting with a headmaster the other day, and somehow we got on to the subject of motivation. His motivation.

"Why do I do this job? That's easy," he said. "This is a small town, and if I don't help the kids to get out and get a life, the chances are they'll end up as bloody hairdressers."

Tessa Jowell would be proud of him, I said. Hadn't the Minister for Women uttered something along those lines recently? Although he gave an obligatory groan at this, I noticed that he perked up a little.

But get this. Ten minutes later, I was driving up the high street when what should I see but a barber's called Headmasters. Spooky.

Was this some former pupil giving the scissors-up sign to the old alma mater? (The place did look to be doing rather well.) Perhaps it was the presence of this cheeky signboard that had given the head such a bee in his bonnet.

Who knows? But it set me thinking. And the more I thought, the more I found myself questioning what he had said. Clearly the man meant well. But how, in the face of such evidence, could he dismiss a career that offered young people such rich opportunities for self-expression? I'm not talking about shaping other people's hair. I'm talking about perming their own existence. I'm talking about names.

Imagine. You have just taken a lease on a brand new premises. The board is up, and the signwriter comes first thing in the morning. But still you can't decide what to call your business. Have courage. This is your chance to make an impact - to scrawl your signature with a flourish on the town you call home.

So what's it to be? Sweeney Todd's? The Cutting Room? Hers & Sirs? Mane Attraction?

Given that your old headmaster frowned on hairdressing as a career, you won't have studied this sort of thing in class. Cutting hair you can do. The VAT returns your brother-in-law has promised to help you with. But choosing a name? There isn't even a website to bail you out.

Not to worry, though. Here are one or two basic tips, drawn from the extensive list of coiffeurs in my local Yellow Pages.

If it's a fun image you're after, the choice of names is virtually endless. Something short and plural usually does the trick. Nutters, Tangles, Clippers, Croppers, Snippers, Strands, Rascals, Blades, Tramps, Scamps, Topps, Scruffs, Mad Hatters... All announce that everyone inside is having a party. And if the word "Unisex" on the door suggests we're talking about a groovy kind of party, then who's complaining?

To give your establishment that extra-modern feel, a "c" in the name might be changed to "k", and "z" might replace the final "s". This can give truly whacky results, such as Klipperz or Kutz, Jigsawz or Skatz, or even Karma Moodz.

There's nothing like a central 'n' to convey utter modernity. Cut'n'Curl and Chop 'n'Change are clearly as bang up-to-date as rock 'n' roll. In fact, if M&S is serious about a makeover, it would be well advised to change its name to Marks 'n'Spencer as a matter of urgency - have that one on me, guys!

Perhaps a classy image is more your "bag", in which case you might care to consider A Cut Above, Masquerade or Elegance Hair Design. Debonair sounds pretty damned sophisticated, as do By Appointment, Panache, MiLady, and anything at all with "Select" in it.

At Haverhill in Suffolk, there's a salon called Max of Switzerland. Heaven knows what brought Max to this London overspill town, but he's there now, and by golly, he doesn't half sound posh. Talking of "posh", such words should be avoided like the plague, since they actually convey a contrary message. The only exceptions to this rule are Snobz and Classix, where the final letters suggest irony and therefore sophistication (an exception to this exception is, of course, Nitz, which I'm happy to say does not appear to have caught on hereabouts).

An atmosphere of artiness and creativity is easily conjured up by using words such as Image, Vision, Style, Impressions, Dimensions and Flair (which conveniently rhymes with "hair"). Tack on the term "Studio" and you've got it made. "Studio" also suggests links with the film industry and therefore with America. In fact, America is so "right" that you might come straight out with it, as did the owner of American Connection. There are more subtle ways of suggesting the Land of the Free: Hair Company, Hair Factory and Hair & Friends all seem to say "Have a nice day", while Cuts R Us, Talking Heads and Guys & Dolls were clearly made in the USA.

But hairdressing is supposed to be about creativity. What better way to demonstrate this to potential customers than by inventing your own original title? It's easy when you know how. Just think about what it is you do - the tools of your trade and the processes involved. Then try to bend these words into well-known phrases or sayings. Remember, this is all about having fun. If you can make the customer laugh, you're home and dry (or Hone & Dry, as we say in the business).

At this stage, it might be helpful to consider a few examples. Don't worry if you can't come up to this standard at once. There's nothing to stop you re-opening tomorrow under a brand new name, is there?

To work, then. Now, what is it you do in your salon? You cut hair. The word "cut" sounds very similar to "cat", and "aristocat" has a classy ring to it. So why no try Aristocuts? Yes, it's that easy! Another word for "cut" is "clip". But you don't just clip any old how. You're not a hedge-trimmer. You clip just so. Clip'So, in fact.

Did you know that the patron saint of hairdressing (among other professions) was none other than Mary Magdalen. It seems she once washed Christ's hair ("Wouldst though like conditioner, Lord?")

Well, you might not be a saint. But if sir or madam would care to glance in the mirror, they might see that you've worked a few minor Miracurls, yes? (Nice work, Linda, from Linda's Miracurls.)

Finally, of course, there's the stuff without which none of this would be possible. Hair. In parts of East Anglia, the word "here" is actually pronounced "hair", which I'm sure explains why most towns have a Hair Today (Gone Tomorrow seems less popular). But hair is such a whisp of a word that it seems a shame not to try weaving it into something fancier. Slip it into Extraordinaire and you have Extraordinhair. Cross it with "boutique" and you get Hairtique. Such larks!

So you see, Headmaster. Your pupils may not have made it to university. But look around you (if you can see from under that boyish mop). They're not about to Curl Up & Dye. Geddit?