Food & Drink

Port’s Favourite Places: Lily Maila

Five years ago Guven Hassan and his wife Elif established their hair salon Lily Maila in the heart of Clerkenwell. Recently, they’ve embarked upon an additional enterprise, collaborating hairdressing with a great cup of coffee.

Over the last 5 months, Lily Maila has opened its doors to commuters and passers by, all sharing a common appreciation for a quality cup of coffee. Guven explains that this idea originated from his personal needs: “I found myself exploring from Shoreditch to Soho just to get a good cup of coffee,” he says. For him, this meant serving “noteworthy coffee and having a good atmosphere – that’s what really adds to the whole experience.” He recalls that he recognised a niche in the market, “for me, there was nowhere in the immediate vicinity selling distinguished coffee.”

However he knew a mediocre cup of coffee wouldn’t cut it, “we wanted to make this concept a success but it was only going to work if the drinks are up to scratch and madeproperly,” he says. Consequently, it was a natural decision to retail the reputable Monmouth coffee to the local community.

You may not immediately associate hair and coffee but Guven believed that they would work together to simultaneously reinforce the ambience of the salon. “Since we have started selling coffee it’s proven advantageous for salon trade because people that otherwise may not have come to the salon are using the excuse of coffee to enter,” Guven says.

“We wanted to make this concept a success but it was only going to work if the drinks are up to scratch and made properly”

Inevitably this has led to an increase in footfall, “I always make sure they see what else we have to offer. A lot of coffee customers become hair customers.” He ensures that both creative directions are concurrent, in fact hairdressing and coffee have one fundamental thing in common: “it’s essentially the same customer interaction, in both instances you’re talking to them, building up a personal relationship and creating an impressionable experience.”

Similarly, the two elements efficiently maximise the creative space, with potential to expand as a multifunctioning business even further. Guven has plans to transformthe currently idle room at the back of the salon into an area appropriate for selling Levi’s vintage products. “In the future hopefully there will be the scope to stock other designers as well.” He hopes that this will be an organic development that will naturally integrate into the rest of the business. Guven’s advice regarding the fusion of seemingly divergent business approaches is simple. “You need to do it for the reason that you like it,” he states, “you and your business have to be seen as genuine.”

Lily Maila is exemplary of how a small business can establish itself with awillingness to deviate from the norm.“I’m passionate about both hairdressing and coffee and I like the balance between them,” Guven says. “Since selling coffee I’ve become more enthusiastic about hairdressing because I have another activity to break up my day and there is always more going on.” He demonstrates a dedication to his business that corresponds with his determination for success. “I wanted to be taken seriously,” he says. “In all the coffee shops I was visiting there was a common trend, that all the cool baristas seemed to have beards. So for the last four months I’ve been growing my beard and hair to create an authentic coffee shop look!”

Photography Jasper Fry