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Grab A Cuppa With Bridgette

Grab a cuppa and prepare to be massively impressed by this awesome woman!

Bridgette Young, owner of Off The Fringe talks us through the biggest adventure of her life…and it’s still going…

Fear for her family’s safety and a looming energy crisis drove one woman to move across the world with nothing but plane tickets and the deposit for a car.

Seventeen years on and Bridgette Young is the owner of an award-winning hair salon with a team she adores, a successful marriage, two kids, a fox terrier and a cat named Dean.

We talk to Bridgette about her decision to move from South Africa to New Zealand in search of a better life.

THE MIGRATION

“We were young and stupid and really didn’t know what we were doing,” laughs Bridgette. “But in all seriousness, the crime was getting really bad around us and we feared it was only going to get worse.

“My husband [Brian] was working for South Africa’s biggest electricity supplier at the time and could see where the country was heading. He was right on the front line witnessing the bad decisions being made to save money. It terrified us.”

And when Brian called home one day to say he’d had enough, the search for their new home began.

At first Bridgette thought he just wanted to move city, but she soon discovered Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand were all on the table. Fast forward three months and a job offer in the land-of-the-long-white-cloud made the decision for them. Another 90 days and they were boarding the plane en-route to their new life.

“We left behind a beautiful home that we’d worked on for years to make perfect. We had good incomes and a strong network of family and friends there, and we left it all for a country we knew very little about.”

Initially – with an almost two-year-old son, no family support, one car between them and minimal income – life in New Zealand was hard.

But Bridgette was unwilling to let realities be a barrier to a better future. She learned to aggressively budget, plan and stay focused on her path ahead. A passionate and talented hairdresser with a nose for business, Bridgette wasn’t content to work for others. She had dreams of running her own salon.

THE STUDIO

“I’ve always known I’d have my own studio one day, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be award winning,” Bridgette says.

Multi-award winning, actually.

Bridgette’s Auckland studio, Off The Fringe, has won myriad awards since its establishment in 2013. She’s scooped back-to-back titles of Organic Colour Systems’ Salon of the Year award, our Eco Excellence award, and numerous photographic collection accolades.

“Winning awards was never my focus,” Bridgette explains. “I just wanted to create a place I love to be. A place where my team and my clients love to be. A place people want to come to because of how we make them feel, and how beautiful we make their hair.”

And she’s definitely achieved that.

Off The Fringe senior stylist Jacqueline (Jax) Reis has been with Bridgette almost four years and says she couldn’t imagine working for anyone else.

“She is so much more than just my boss,” Jax says. “She’s supportive, understanding, and she always encourages me to do better. Bridgette makes you want to be a better person.”

And the feeling is mutual. Bridgette overflows with pride when she talks about her ‘girls’.

“I’ve had to push myself and my team to achieve great things within our community and our business,” Bridgette says. “We’re always looking to find ways to improve and make our clients’ experience better than the ‘salon down the road’.”

And it’s this drive to stand above the crowd that attracted Bridgette to Organic Colour Systems when she first began hairdressing in New Zealand all those years ago.

“It’s been an incredible opportunity to be part of the OCS community,” Bridgette says. “It’s like no other in the hair industry. We’re a family; we keep in touch with other salons and work together, not against each other. Organic Colour Systems has a beautiful culture that I absolutely love being part of. And that’s not even touching on the actual product!”

Bridgette laughs when we ask if her current South African-heavy team was intentional (two of her senior stylists are from SA).

“No, not at all! But our area of Auckland has a strong South African community and I guess Off The Fringe reflects that.”

But Bridgette doesn’t believe the studio has any particular South African bent.

“We are who we are. We do our very best to be who our clients choose when they need their hair done. To be who they choose when they need products. To be who they choose when they need an escape. It’s more about what we do and what we can offer to clients than where we come from.

“New Zealand must be one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world and I’d love to see more inclusiveness in businesses in general; where we help each other and lift each other up, not as a particular race but as a group of human beings.”

THE LOVE

We’re grateful this woman made the brave decision to leave her hometown 17 years ago, and that Brian’s job sent her our way. Bridgette represents the very fabric of what makes us who we are; of what makes Organic Colour Systems a place we call home.THE MIGRATION

“We were young and stupid and really didn’t know what we were doing,” laughs Bridgette. “But in all seriousness, the crime was getting really bad around us and we feared it was only going to get worse.

“My husband [Brian] was working for South Africa’s biggest electricity supplier at the time and could see where the country was heading. He was right on the front line witnessing the bad decisions being made to save money. It terrified us.”

And when Brian called home one day to say he’d had enough, the search for their new home began.

At first Bridgette thought he just wanted to move city, but she soon discovered Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand were all on the table. Fast forward three months and a job offer in the land-of-the-long-white-cloud made the decision for them. Another 90 days and they were boarding the plane en-route to their new life.

“We left behind a beautiful home that we’d worked on for years to make perfect. We had good incomes and a strong network of family and friends there, and we left it all for a country we knew very little about.”

Initially – with an almost two-year-old son, no family support, one car between them and minimal income – life in New Zealand was hard.

But Bridgette was unwilling to let realities be a barrier to a better future. She learned to aggressively budget, plan and stay focused on her path ahead. A passionate and talented hairdresser with a nose for business, Bridgette wasn’t content to work for others. She had dreams of running her own salon.

THE STUDIO

“I’ve always known I’d have my own studio one day, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be award winning,” Bridgette says.

Multi-award winning, actually.

Bridgette’s Auckland studio, Off The Fringe, has won myriad awards since its establishment in 2013. She’s scooped back-to-back titles of Organic Colour Systems’ Salon of the Year award, our Eco Excellence award, and numerous photographic collection accolades.

“Winning awards was never my focus,” Bridgette explains. “I just wanted to create a place I love to be. A place where my team and my clients love to be. A place people want to come to because of how we make them feel, and how beautiful we make their hair.”

And she’s definitely achieved that.

Off The Fringe senior stylist Jacqueline (Jax) Reis has been with Bridgette almost four years and says she couldn’t imagine working for anyone else.

“She is so much more than just my boss,” Jax says. “She’s supportive, understanding, and she always encourages me to do better. Bridgette makes you want to be a better person.”

And the feeling is mutual. Bridgette overflows with pride when she talks about her ‘girls’.

“I’ve had to push myself and my team to achieve great things within our community and our business,” Bridgette says. “We’re always looking to find ways to improve and make our clients’ experience better than the ‘salon down the road’.”

And it’s this drive to stand above the crowd that attracted Bridgette to Organic Colour Systems when she first began hairdressing in New Zealand all those years ago.

“It’s been an incredible opportunity to be part of the OCS community,” Bridgette says. “It’s like no other in the hair industry. We’re a family; we keep in touch with other salons and work together, not against each other. Organic Colour Systems has a beautiful culture that I absolutely love being part of. And that’s not even touching on the actual product!”

Bridgette laughs when we ask if her current South African-heavy team was intentional (two of her senior stylists are from SA).

“No, not at all! But our area of Auckland has a strong South African community and I guess Off The Fringe reflects that.”

But Bridgette doesn’t believe the studio has any particular South African bent.

“We are who we are. We do our very best to be who our clients choose when they need their hair done. To be who they choose when they need products. To be who they choose when they need an escape. It’s more about what we do and what we can offer to clients than where we come from.

“New Zealand must be one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world and I’d love to see more inclusiveness in businesses in general; where we help each other and lift each other up, not as a particular race but as a group of human beings.”

THE LOVE

We’re grateful this woman made the brave decision to leave her hometown 17 years ago, and that Brian’s job sent her our way. Bridgette represents the very fabric of what makes us who we are; of what makes Organic Colour Systems a place we call home.

Article written and published by Organic Colour Systems