The Buff Parlour Now Open in Umhlanga
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”– Alice In Wonderland
Buff Beauty Parlour in Umhlanga is an emporium brimming with delicious dichotomies. Fondly referred to as The Little Shop of Miracles, it is filled with everything you need and nothing you expect.
The original inspiration behind Buff was the iconic Betty Boop, as she is simultaneously sweet and sexy. Owned by a local entrepreneurial family, the Buff brand and space consciously incorporates quirky components and magical elements as it flutters between wonder and whimsy and borrows from past and present. It provides an evocative sensory experience that is countered with slick professional treatments delivered by passionate staff in candy striper styled pinafores.
Sisters Tracy Gielink and Kim Davidson were raised on fashion and horse racing, along with lectures on independence, the value of hard work and perils of chipped nail polish. As teenagers, their talented mother, Debbie Davidson, harnessed them to work on various high profile events that she co-ordinated and it’s hardly surprising that the three ended up as business partners.
Once flippantly referred to as The Trilogy, they adopted the collective name as it sounded like smaller, more stylish version of the mafia. Their different personalities and backgrounds (ranging from public relations to eventing, marketing and journalism) have seen them become an entrepreneurial tour de force as they own and run three Umhlanga-based businesses.
The first was The Barnyard Theatre at Gateway which opened in 2001 and was the first main-stream success in the franchise. Once again, Debbie, Tracy and Kim delved into the unknown two years later, when opening Teremok Marine. The five-star boutique hotel has won numerous awards and hosted many local and international celebrities, and also incorporates the highly regarded Teremok Spa.
Buff is a stand-alone grooming parlour offering essential services (ranging from nails to waxing, and lash and brow grooming) delivered by highly specialized, handpicked staff who follow international hygiene protocol. Buff has been appointed Essie’s first and only flagship salon in South Africa – check out the imported Essie manicure stations from Italy that come with a handbag hook and built-in extractor system to combat the dust and strong odours associated with acrylic and gel nails. DzWe have been referred to as game changers, which is an enormous compliment, but we just follow our intuition,dz says Tracy.
“We are all very discerning and know that value-for-money is important at any price point, so we simply seek to provide people with the type of experience that we would like to receive. It has taken three years to develop the Buff brand and it portrays our passion, idiosyncrasies and rather offbeat sense of humour!”
The Parlour’s unique layout confidently ignores industry norms and, instead, follows department store protocol as there are various pods within the space, each with very specific branding. After all, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.
The Soda Fountain is a retro, American diner-styled area that serves old fashioned soft drinks and handcrafted gourmet donuts from cult local brand, Wicked Donuts. A punked-up version of the inimitable Frieda Kahlo announces the Brow Bar and make-up station; while the soft, salmon-hued Glow is a dedicated area where tweens and teens can experiment with appropriate skin care products. Men have The Workshop where they can explore grooming in an environment specifically created to make them feel at ease.
Betty’s Boudoir is presided over by a gorgeous, life-size sculpture of Betty Boop (yes, of course you can take selfies!), and a discreet black wardrobe is filled with luxury exotica. Expect to find sexy underwear, frame-fitting corsets, bachelorette party paraphernalia and, because we know beauty starts with a smile, a collection of sex toys chosen for form and function.
Then it’s down the rabbit hole to the Alice In Wonderland-inspired function room, The Salon, which can be rented out for small, exclusive soirees; and adjacent is the communal Nail Station which can accommodate 10 people for manicures and pedicures. For essential services, there are waxing rooms (with televisions, warmed beds and squeezy toys for those who may need it) in which body full waxing is done, including intimate areas for both men and women.
Buff has a very strong retail element which is as much for personal therapy as it is for quirky gifting. Brand synergy and collaboration has been a driving force and Buff has exclusivity in KwaZulu-Natal for a carefully chosen collection of retail lines.
The brand and business embraces technology and there is not a “please switch off your cell phones” sign in sight! There are easily accessible points for charging phones plus there is a digital library for clients to check out tablets loaded with e-magazines plus online bookings and instant cardless payment are in the pipeline. Let Buff take you to wonderland!
Address: The Boulevard, 19 Park Lane, Umhlanga Ridge
Telephone: 087 287 9878