Starting a business at any time is risky and challenging. Starting one in particularly uncertain times is doubly so. But starting one when your country has just been attacked seems suicidal. And even more so when your business is a girly beauty salon with pink décor details.
But that is exactly what Kiev-based entrepreneurs Sabina Musina and Lera Borodina did. They opened G.Bar Brave, their sixth full-service salon in Kyiv, Ukraine, right in the middle of the Russian attack. Perhaps the distraction provided by the services helps local women forget the war for a fleeting moment.
This salon is a corporate store as are the other Kyiv salons, each with its own identifier: Big, Mini, Special, DODO and Babe. Brave seems like a perfect name reflecting the courageous front that Ukrainians have shown during the invasion, and it also mirrors the defiance of the two female founders.
The parent company G.Bar World was established by the two in 2015, and in addition to the six corporate salons in Kyiv, it now operates 30 franchised salons in 29 cities in 10 countries.
Currently, franchise salons have been established in Los Angeles (USA), Tallinn (Estonia), Prague (Czech Republilc), Tbilisi (Georgia), Madrid (Spain), Limassol (Cyprus), Frankfurt (Germany), and Krakow, Warsaw and Wroclaw in Poland. The brand’s global online hub is G.Bar World.
The newest, G.Bar Brave, provides make up, hair styling, cuts and colouring, plus manicures and pedicures. It is a110 square-metre (1,184 sq.ft) space in an industrial building, The Arsenal Factory, established in 1764 by the Imperial Russian Army in the historic Kyiv Fortress compound.
The salon’s interior design incorporates the fortress’s brick arches that are now painted white within the store. Echoing these arches, blue archways are inserted into the interior with some of the walls painted in the same intense colour. The strong blue also repeats in some of the furnishings.
Startling neon-pink pieces counter the blue and white interior and serve as a tiny nod to the girly beginnings of the concept. In an older Ukrainian article, the founders described the G.Bar concept as a “pre-party space for girls before they go out.” The letter G signifies Girl, but also Gorgeous, Glow and Glorious, they said.
The first G.Bar in 2015 was located in a section of Borodina’s first enterprise, Oh My Look, an evening and party dress rental boutique with three Ukrainian outlets: Kyiv, Odessa and Dnipro. Tuija Seipell
Photography: Marian Beresh