Combers Hair Salon’s 40th Anniversary

TAUNTON’s leading hair salon, Combers Inside-Out, is marking it’s 40th birthday this week with a bumper celebration.

The salon in The Courtyard in the town’s Independent Quarter, will mark the day with live music, fun and plenty of fizz.

Director, Simon Willetts, who launched the award-winning salon, said: “As Taunton’s oldest salon, we look forward to seeing clients old and new.”

Simon was just 20 when he started the business in one small room in The Courtyard when it was launched as a new retail development in May 1982.

Television presenter, Judith Chalmers, best known for ITV’s Wish You Were Here, formally opened the venue and was the young hairdresser’s first client.

“I was really nervous because Judith was such a big name and there were loads of people crowded round taking photographs,” said Simon.

“But she put me at ease and was delighted with my efforts. She said she hadn’t had a better hair cut in London.”

The Courtyard St James Street Taunton

Combers is the only one of the original business from that time which is still trading in The Courtyard. Over the years, Simon expanded the salon which in 2018 underwent a £250,000 refurbishment and is now the largest premises in the Independent Quarter.

“I started out with one stylist and a trainee,” he added.

“Today, there are fifteen stylists, three customer service front of house, three admin staff and five young trainees in the Combers Academy. More than 60% of our staff have been with us for more than ten years and over 20% for more than twenty years.   We are the largest salon in Taunton with clients coming from Bristol and Bath as well as across Devon and even into Cornwall.

“People often ask how we have  managed to stay at the top and my answer is everything we do is client centred. We actually call our clients guests and we make sure we create hairstyles that work for them 365 days a year.  

“In addition, we have talented staff who benefit from courses in London and Miami and learning from top stylists around the country who come to Combers. 

Over the years, we have trained over two hundred stylists who are now working across the UK.”

Combers is used to celebrities popping into the salon. One of Simon’s happiest memories was when Somerset and England cricketer, Ian Botham, was making his sponsored walk from John O’Groats to Lands End.

Lord Botham at Combers Inside-Out Hair salon in Taunton on his Birthday in the 80’s

“Ian was booked in for a cut and colour and it was all shown live on Noel’s House Party on the BBC. It was chaotic but a lot of fun and Ian was a real gent.”

Looking to the future, Simon and his wife, Carolyn, are delighted their son Cameron, 21, has joined them as a director at Combers. Cameron has already worked with runway models at New York’s Fashion Week, works in top London salons once a month on mentoring programmes and is leading the salon’s drive to be more sustainable.

Added Cameron: “We have a long standing relationship with Italian firm, Davines who create beautiful products which are kind to the environment and are ethically sourced while offering natural goodness and quality to our clients.”