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What does it take to be a personal stylist franchisee?

What does it take to be a personal stylist franchisee?

Former banker, Sandy Lancaster, took on a House of Colour franchise for her retirement – a decision she wishes she’d made sooner

Sandy Lancaster spent her career working in national UK banks. However, when the time came to retire, she decided to buy a House of Colour franchise, after experiencing the colour-matching service for herself.

“I was gifted a colour analysis for a significant birthday. I was actually a little bit incensed that somebody felt I needed an intervention.”

House of Colour has been in operation since the eighties and has developed its approach from Johannes Itten’s colour theory. It aims to help clients assess which colour palette (spring, summer, autumn, or winter) best complements their complexion, as well as assists in styling sessions and personal shopping services.

“I was just blown away by it. I sat in the chair in front of the mirror, and we realised that I was a spring, but I was dressing as a winter,” says Sandy.

She then found out that her local House of Colour consultant, Jane, had decided to sell, which encouraged Sandy to buy the location in September 2022. She began training during lockdown.

“The pandemic gave me that space to build up my social media profile and get my ducks in a row.”

Sandy received all the fabrics and colour analysis material needed to kickstart her business, while having Jane’s pre-existing clients transferred to her. Training involved learning the theories behind styling and colour matching, as well as make up lessons with Paul Herrington, former MUA at Bobbi Brown.

“I knew I was going to like social media the least.”

Sandy makes herself post on Instagram every day so her brand remains visible. “I create seven pieces of content for the week on Sunday night, then I just post each day. It takes about an hour altogether.”

However, user-generated content and word of mouth have been massively useful in building custom, which is why the experience Sandy offers has to feel personal and special.

“I really want customers to be my advocates,” she says. “They’re my walking billboards, rather than me having an advert somewhere.”

“I do quite a lot of networking, and that’s where I get my clients from.”

Although House of Colour has been particularly appealing to what Sandy calls ‘the Davina McCalls’, she attracts a broad range of people. Customers can be anyone from someone who’s looking to dress powerfully to get a promotion, or someone who needs a confidence boost after a breakup – or they could just fancy a bit of wardrobe guidance.

It’s the change that Sandy sees in her clients after the experience that truly fulfils her.

“It’s those little texts from people or when you see them looking at themselves in the mirror in a different way,” she says. “That just makes me feel so
wonderful.”

“It’s really funny because I say to people if I see you in Sainsbury’s and you’re not wearing your colours, I don’t want you to run away from me, it’s not a judgement.

“I’m just giving you the information. I don’t want you throwing things away, I want you to just think about the next thing that you’re buying. This is about sustainability.”

“Light is a big factor.”

Sandy operates her franchise in an outbuilding at the back of her garden. The entire front wall is built of glass to enable as much natural light as possible – a crucial factor in assessing clients accurately.

As a result, the seasons dictate her working hours. “In winter I only see clients between 10am and 3-4pm. So, I might see a client for colour in the morning to catch the best of the day light, and then I might have a style client in the afternoon.”

“I can work as hard as I want to. I don’t have to be always open. It’s not like I have a high street shop.”

House of Colour provides an online booking system, which means clients can book appointments based on available times selected by Sandy. It’s given her the flexibility she hoped for during her retirement and enabled her to continue spending time in her holiday home in Spain.

“I’ve joined networks because they’re my support network. If I need a new profile picture, there’s a photographer that I can call on. If I need to update my LinkedIn or get some help with my social media. There’ll be a social media expert there.”

Sandy also seeks the help of others in the House of Colour network – franchisees who she sees as support rather than competition. “I think it’s very collegiate in a way that perhaps if you were buying into something like fast food, it wouldn’t be.”

Get to know Sandy


Sandy describes herself as a ‘glass half full’ type of person. She aims to take a positive approach when assessing all situations, no matter how awful.

Anything you can’t work without?
I do like my sleep and definitely function better when I’ve had my eight hours!

What’s your greatest fear?
I’m bird phobic – I was locked in a pigeon coop atseven years old and had a Tippi Hedren moment.

Where would you most like to retire (after thefranchising)?
I love Chiswick – it’s green and has big spaces but isso close to the culture, nightlife, and buzz of London. My favourite place outside of home is Ischia – a beautiful shabby chic island in the Bay of Naples. The jetset go to Capri, the Italians go to Ischia.

Your favourite possession is?
My lovely little Nissan Figaro car – I imported it fromJapan about 18 years ago.

What qualities do you admire in yourself?
Resilience and bouncebackability – as an army child, it was essential growing up and now it holds me in good stead for most situations.

What talent would you most like to possess?
I love to sing (shower, car, kitchen) but I’d really like to be able sing properly.

What’s your favourite meal?
Nothing really beats a good Sunday roast – it’s even better when cooked by someone else.

Your favourite song is:
Aquarius/Let the Sunshine from the musical Hair, sung by 5th Dimension.

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