Rainbow Room International Celebrate 45 Years

by Hair Magazine


Scotland’s largest salon group and creative colour experts, Rainbow Room International have hit an incredible milestone this year celebrating 45 years in business.

Alan Stewart working in Buchanan St Salon

Rainbow Room International began with one salon situated on Buchanan Street in Glasgow in 1979, has grown to become an eleven-salon strong group. The group has grown organically over the past 45 years, with many of the Salon Director’s being with the company from the beginning, starting as apprentices or young stylists and working their way up the ranks to franchise their own salon with the support of Rainbow Room International Co-Founders, Alan and Linda Stewart.

Old Buchanan Street Image

When Alan Stewart opened the first Rainbow Room International salon in Buchanan Street in 1979, his ultimate goal was to create a salon concept, a concept that at the time was considered visionary and that would provide the highest standards of hairdressing, customer care, training and provide the members of his team with a lifelong career and a secure financial future. Alan and his team undertook the re-education of clients and visiting Rainbow Room International in 1979 clients received:
• Longer appointment times
• Only the best products available were used
• Clients received one to one consultations where stylists discussed their needs and created a hairstyle to suit their lifestyle
• Clients were offered advice on home use products
• The design of the salon was integral to the comfort and enjoyment of the client’s visit

In 1983 Linda Stewart joined the company. Linda’s business and organisational skills and talents along with her ability to set up systems and programmes assisted Rainbow Room International with their expansion programme. They opened a second salon 150 yards from the first – becoming their own competition. This was a very revolutionary concept, not only because of the close proximity of the two salons, but at the same time Alan and Linda decided to launch the first progressive Hairdressing Academy in Scotland.

In 2003, Alan and Linda moved the Academy to its current state of the art 7,500 sqft premises in Howard Street, which is at the forefront of today’s most advanced development programme, delivering over 120 apprenticeships with years of flawless audits, and has helped to grow and develop some of the industry’s greatest hairdressing talents. Academy Director, Laura Leigh Kerr, has since taken the Rainbow Room International Academy to new heights, introducing mental health training for the Rainbow Room International team, exchange programmes for assistant and charity partnerships, and has won several awards for her extraordinary education programme. This programme has also led Leigh to become the Scottish Ambassador and Chairperson for HABIA, helping to write and develop qualifications including the brand new SVQ level 1 and shape the future of hairdressing.

Now, there are eleven Rainbow Room International salons in Scotland, including in Glasgow City Centre, Glasgow West End, Clarkston, Ayr, East Kilbride, Uddingston and Bearsden. All Directors grow their own salons and nurture their teams and have won many awards at some of the industry’s biggest events and regional events due to their incredible salon success and business acumen. Through their unmatched support to the salon group, Directors and the hairdressing industry, Alan and Linda Stewart received an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List for Services to Hairdressing in 2021.

The Rainbow Room International Artistic Team has also grown leaps and bounds over the past 45 years, led by creative visionary, Suzie McGill, winning an endless number of awards and working backstage at some of the most renowned events, not only in the industry, but for red carpets and music festivals including the BAFTAs, T in the Park and TRNSMT to name a few. Now, the group have developed a Young Artistic Team, whereby their young stylists can take part in training and seminars to see what it takes to become part of the Artistic Team and can take part in seminars and events hosted by the Rainbow Room International Directors. This great initiative allows stylists to move up the ranks and ensures constant growth for the group.

Alongside growing an eleven-salon strong group, with a state-of-the-art academy, Artistic Team and Young Artistic Team, and winning a vast number of awards, Rainbow Room International highlights and successes include:
• Being the first salon in the United Kingdom to introduce Shitatsu Massage
• Introduction of a ten-step consultation process
• A solid career structure with opportunities for growth including promotion, incentives and bonuses
• Opening Glasgow’s first Day Spa and Floatarium in their Royal Exchange Square Salon
• Fast track training programme
• Fame Academy for Young Stylists
• Producing their own Rainbow Room International haircare company (of which products are still used in the salons and stocked in salons and online)
• An Annual Congress which culminates in an Awards Ceremony each year to give back to the team and reward them for their successes
• Glasgow’s first hair salon with an on-site cocktail bar situated in the George Square salon
…and much more!

With 2024 marking the 45 year anniversary of the group and the opening of the Buchanan Street salon, Wil and Shannon Fleeson, Directors of the Buchanan Street salon, were thrilled to take home the Salon of the Year category at this year’s Rainbow Room International congress in February and are continuing to show that the first salon in the group is continuing to grow and strive 45 years on.

Commenting on the 45-year celebration, Wil and Shannon Fleeson, Directors of the Rainbow Room International Buchanan Street salon said, “The Rainbow Room International brand has continued to be as strong and relevant in our industry for 45 years because it’s focus has always been on growing its teams with innovative education and serving its clients with passion and attention to detail. As the founding salon, Rainbow Room International Buchanan Street stands for everything we represent as a brand for 45 years, and as Directors we are so proud to be part of the continuing story and direction of this amazing company.”

Alan Stewart, Co-Founder of Rainbow Room International, said, “A couple of years after opening the salon on a business course I was asked how I would run my business if it was to be a hundred-year-old business. That gave me great clarity on what needed to be achieved – we had to develop our team to be the very best, find out where they wanted to go with their careers and give them opportunities to achieve that. Wil and Shannon Fleeson were individually successful within the RRI team, and together they are charismatic. Since taking over the salon in 2009, they have added to the team’s success. Linda and I are so proud of what they have achieved and know there is a lot more to come from this dynamic duo.”

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