EMBRACE TECH, BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF HUMAN CONNECTION

EMBRACE TECH, BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF HUMAN CONNECTION

SALON SMART 2024: HERE’S WHAT WE LEARNED

Tech is important to support your business, but the human connection is unique, enduring and vital.

Brian MacMillan, Justin Mackland, Josh Miller

First things first: Salon Smart 2024 was an absolute belter – packed with people and packed with new ideas for how best to run a hair business now. Tickets for Creative HEAD’s networking event for salon and barbershop owners and managers had sold out weeks in advance, so it was a lucky crowd of 200 first-past-the-post hair pros who descended on the Chain and Buoy Store in East London for a day of insight, learning and inspiration delivered by industry experts and innovators. And what did they learn?

With no less than 22 awesome presenters and panel members taking to the stage, the Salon Smart agenda was diverse and wide-ranging. But as the day played out, some key themes emerged:

• It is vital now to embrace technology within your business, whether that’s using best-in-class software for client bookings, stock management and marketing; creating AI bots to tackle specific areas like retail or staff training; or harnessing the power of social media to find new clients (let’s face it, social media is the only place young humans are looking for a hairstylist nowadays). Tech is not only changing the game in-salon, it’s something your clients expect to experience within their salon visit, too.

• However, whizzy tech should not come at the cost of human connection. We heard a lot about the powerful role hairdressers play in the lives of their clients beyond a cut and blow-dry, whether that’s as an advisor, a listening ear or as a business within the community that’s genuinely making a difference. (Most Wanted Best Local Salon 2023 winner Alison McRitchie, owner of The Head Gardener in Inverness, delivered an incredibly moving showcase of the work she does at the Highland Hospice, where she provides joy and happiness to terminally ill cancer patients.) This human connection is unique and valuable and should lie at the heart of your business long into the future.

• Your client base will change dramatically over the coming years. According to keynote speaker Monica Teodoro, general manager of education and professional development at L’Oréal Professional Products, by 2035 your clients will be older, more male, even more urban, more ethnically diverse and also more culturally and religiously diverse. “Whatever you did before will not be enough for tomorrow,” warned Monica, noting that businesses will need to invest in education, in order to stay one step ahead of new skills and trends as they emerge, and they will need to be significantly more diverse. This latter point was also made in compelling fashion by textured hair campaigner Winnie Awa, who revealed that only 1% of the UK’s 35,000 salons currently cater for textured hair clients. “We need to work harder to create an inclusive environment for the products we use and the services we offer,” she said.

• Don’t be afraid to delegate. As a business owner you’re probably attempting to do the work of five full-time jobs. Keep hold of the parts where you know you bring value but ensure people with different strengths take care of the rest. As serial entrepreneur Samantha Cusick stated: “Take steps to work on your business, not in it. That includes delegating tasks, in order to create the time you need to work on your plans.”

 

“Salon Smart is like a litmus test for what’s actually happening in salons right now – what’s working well, what’s going wrong. It’s an event that takes a vast amount of information from real business owners and distils it into clear, thought-through ideas that you can use to plan for the future.”

Catherine Handcock, publisher, Creative HEAD

 

Phillip Bell, Ishoka, Aberdeen

Winnie Awa

Jenni Gibb, Charlie Miller, Edinburgh

Monica Teodoro

Jenni Gibb, Charlie Miller, Edinburgh

Samantha Cusick

Jenni Gibb, Charlie Miller, Edinburgh

Alison McRitchie

And there was so much more to listen to and think about at Salon Smart 2024. In other highlights:

Jordan Massarella and Benjamin Jones shared the clever thinking behind their new Massarella+Jones salon in Leamington Spa, from their collaborations with local online-only businesses (“We give them a shopfront, while we benefit from their social media presence”) to how they created a homely and welcoming salon experience that fully reflects their personalities and brand ethos (the bespoke wallpaper, created by a local artist, features nods to the duo’s pets, agricultural upbringing and even their tattoos).

Mark Ronayne of salon software expert Phorest alerted the audience to upcoming new legislation surrounding tipping – primarily targeted at unscrupulous behaviour within the hospitality industry but also, coincidentally, impacting on hairdressing – and offered excellent advice on how to stay compliant (there was plenty of note-taking during this session!).

Staying with software, Danny Coles of colour management system Vish showed how salon owners need to start looking at the cost of product, in order to price services more accurately and profitably. Other industries charge for every bit of product, he argued, whether that’s ordering an extra ‘side’ in a restaurant or a refill in a wine bar, while salons often lose out by not understanding the numbers (a Vish survey of 2,400 salons showed that one in five colour services are non-profitable). “Learn from your local garage,” said Danny. “They break down their invoice into parts and labour, and you need to start thinking that way too.”

Phillip Bell, Ishoka, Aberdeen

Jordan Massarella and Benjamin Jones

Jenni Gibb, Charlie Miller, Edinburgh

Mark Ronayne

Jenni Gibb, Charlie Miller, Edinburgh

Danny Coles 

The Resilient Hairdresser, Hayley Jepson, offered tips on recognising and dealing with burn-out, a condition she believes is leading people to exit the industry. Juggling a business with family life (and the logistical overwhelm that can involve) and the exhaustion that comes with having to be “creative on demand” can lead to feelings of joylessness and resentment and the realisation that you don’t do anything for yourself anymore. Hayley’s advice? “I prescribe fun! Put your phone away, focus on your family, go out on date nights with your partner and make time for other creative outlets that are non-work related. If you’re going to look after clients, you’ve got to take care of yourself first.”

Delegates were fully immersed in the Salon Smart experience, with the opportunity to ask questions after every session, as well as taking part in on-the-spot polls about their business. A Working Lunch session also provided valuable contact with brands providing transformative business support and innovative products and services, including L’Oréal Professionnel Paris, Phorest, Vish, Beauty Works, Glowwa and Moroccanoil.

For a full report from Salon Smart 2024, read the April issue of Creative HEAD magazine. Register for your free copy here.

Related

YOU’VE GOT YOUR APPRENTICE – THIS WILL HELP YOU KEEP THEM

YOU’VE GOT YOUR APPRENTICE – THIS WILL HELP YOU KEEP THEM

YOU'VE GOT YOUR APPRENTICE – THIS WILL HELP YOU KEEP THEM

Three salon employers share what you need to ensure that once you have an apprentice, they’ll stay and they’ll flourish.

F&M Hairdressing team Glasgow

Brian MacMillan and the F&M Hairdressing team

Getting them in the door is hard enough, but keeping apprentices is a tough challenge too… and you might need to take a new approach. As part of National Careers Week and Scottish Apprenticeship Week, we’ve teamed up with The Industry – the CIC showcasing the brilliant opportunities for a life in hairdressing – to see what essentials tips this selection of Scottish salon employers are sharing. 

Make them feel supported and part of the (salon) family 

“There is a massive focus on mental health these days, and ensuring your team members are in the right head space and not riddled with anxiety over exams,” explains Philip Bell, creative director at Ishoka, Aberdeen. Philip meets with apprentices individually every Tuesday to discuss how they are doing in their work life, personal life and training programme. A personalised plan is then created for each apprentice that aims to resolve any personal or professional issues that may have been raised. He adds: “Team days out are also a great way to make them feel like part of the family. We love letting apprentices take part in any activities such as photoshoots or stage work at industry events and attending awards ceremonies – this gives your apprentices a great insight into what the future may hold for them.” 

At F&M Hairdressing, co-founder Brian MacMillan makes sure that EVERYONE on the team spends time with the newbies to make them feel at home. “I am a firm believer that apprenticeships are more than just education; it’s about working together to achieve their goals,” he explains. “They are introduced to the wider team and will spend time with each of our senior team members in order to begin to build a relationship and feel settled in.” 

Phillip Bell Ishoka

Phillip Bell mentoring at Ishoka, Aberdeen

Jason and Josh Miller with trainees

Jason and Josh Miller with Charlie Miller graduates

Show them what you have planned… and keep in touch 

Managing continuous communication through briefings, mentorships, and regular meetings is essential to their personal and professional growth and stability, says Jason Miller, managing director at Charlie Miller salons in Edinburgh. “Each trainee follows our ‘Learning Timeline’ which begins in their first week and follows them throughout their career; this gives them and their manager clarity on their progress, sets expectations and ultimately, helps them develop their emotional intelligence.” 

When an apprentice joins F&M Hairdressing, co-founder Brian MacMillan sits down with them to create an individual plan. “This allows us to work at a pace they are comfortable with and ensure they meet their goals in a timely but high standard manner,” he explains. “Once their programme has begun, we check in weekly then hold a quarterly session where we review the journey planner. Communication is vital, and monitoring progress at every opportunity is key.” 

Related

APPRENTICES ARE A RARE BREED – THIS IS HOW YOU FIND THEM

APPRENTICES ARE A RARE BREED – THIS IS HOW YOU FIND THEM

APPRENTICES ARE A RARE BREED – THIS IS HOW YOU FIND THEM

You want to train tomorrow’s talent, but new blood is hard to find. Salon owners making it work for them share their seven secrets.

Brian MacMillan, Justin Mackland, Josh Miller

Brian MacMillan, F&M Hairdressing, Glasgow. Justin Mackland, Ishoka, Aberdeen. Josh Miller, Charlie Miller, Edinburgh

If you’re a salon employer, you know just how tough it is to entice apprentices into hairdressing and barbering, with apprenticeship starts at a scary low. So, just how can you attract the next generation? With National Careers Week and Scottish Apprenticeship Week hitting this week, we’ve teamed up with The Industry – the CIC showcasing the brilliant opportunities that careers in hairdressing can bring – to help you find those talents of tomorrow.  

 

Speak to them where they live – on social media 

“Before applying for an apprenticeship, Gen Z’s will likely scope a hairdressing business out first on. social media, so it’s more important than ever to be active and current and on as many platforms as possible,” explains Josh Miller, managing director at Charlie Miller salons in Edinburgh. “Social media is the shop window to reach young people and helps them immediately see who we are as a company, what we believe in and what career opportunities are available. We try to make it easy for someone who is interested to get in touch.” 

 

Show off how much fun you’re having! 

“We live in a world where everyone is on their phones, so by creating fun, effective content you will attract the up-and-coming into your salon,” says Justin Mackland, stylist at Ishoka in Aberdeen. “An industry that is not familiar is daunting, so ensure you really grab the essence of how amazing your team are and how fantastic the salon is.” 

 

Get in with your local schools… and be approachable 

“We’re aware that being a luxury salon can be intimidating to teens; getting out into schools and becoming familiar figures in the community can really help to bridge that. Making connections early on and being open and honest about what to expect has garnered lots of interest,” says Josh Miller. “We are building a strong presence in local schools, and currently have a relationship with DYW (Developing the Young Workforce) in Edinburgh & The Lothians. This enables us to talk directly to interested pupils about pathways into the industry.”  

Phillip Bell, Ishoka, Aberdeen

Phillip Bell, Ishoka, Aberdeen

Jenni Gibb, Charlie Miller, Edinburgh

Jenni Gibb, Charlie Miller, Edinburgh

Share the success stories – so potential recruits can see what’s possible 

“We ensure that we shout about the success stories we pride ourselves on,” says Brian MacMillan of F&M Hairdressing in Glasgow. “It’s important for us to continue to showcase our offerings, the industry opportunities and the different paths available to attract a new generation of apprentices.” 

 

Know what makes them tick… and support their journey 

“As a mentor, ensuring your apprentices are up to date with where they are at with their training is essential,” says Philip Bell, creative director at Ishoka. “Spend time with your apprentices and find out what makes them tick in hairdressing.” 

 

The next gen wants to know who they’re working for – be transparent 

“These days, potential employees want to know about your values, who you are as a company, and what you stand for,” says Jenni Gibb, wellbeing & development manager at Charlie Miller salons. “They’re asking things like: “Is there a mental health policy? What is being done to reduce the carbon footprint? What’s the workplace wellbeing like?” 

 

Not everyone learns the same – show you’re cool with that! 

“We are currently training our management on neurodivergence awareness, to give as much support to our neurodivergent staff as possible,” says Jenni Gibb. “The emphasis is on ‘differences’ not ‘difficulties’. It may mean we need to change our approach when teaching, or that our employee may use out-of-the-box thinking when they learn. Coupled with this, we have an in-house mental health support team, who are available to all staff.” 

Related

TRAUMA-DUMPING IS REAL AND HERE’S HOW TO COPE

TRAUMA-DUMPING IS REAL AND HERE’S HOW TO COPE

LEARN TO THINK DIFFERENTLY

Feeling overwhelmed? A new book will help you reconnect with life – and it’s been written with neurodiversity in mind.

How to love and be loved book cover
‘How to Love and Be Loved – Tiny steps to connecting with love and life’ book cover
How to love and be loved book illustration
Ink drawing illustrations of Indigo Violet by Mikyla Limpkin
When it comes to offloading emotional distress, hairdressers are out there on the frontline, listening to the stories, dispatching compassion, sharing love and all for the price of a cut and blow-dry. Customer conversations can be emotionally exhausting and sometimes so painful that they leave you lost for words in the moment and stuck with sadness long after the customer has left your chair. Where do you park this pain? How do you stay afloat? Who nurtures your needs?  

A new book, ‘How to Love and Be Loved’ is a step by step guide to re-connecting with life and rediscovering a love for life. “I have met so many people struggling with feelings of overwhelm and isolation,” says its author Mikyla Limpkin.” I want to help make their lives better. My lived experience led me to research so much that could help people, that I had to find a way to share the knowledge.”  

‘How to Love and Be Loved’ was designed with neurodiversity in mind and follows guidelines from the British Dyslexia Association in its layout, font and page colour. Short chapters and sub-chapters make reading easier for anyone with concentration issues, whether as a result of ADHD, stress or depression, and the key messages are illustrated to help visual learners alongside lots of opportunities for hands-on learning. With an estimated 55 per cent of hairdressers having either been diagnosed with, or related to, a neurodiversity such as dyslexia, autism or ADHD, ‘How to Love and Be Loved’ is particularly relevant within our industry. 

“I designed a book that is easy to read and could be scribbled in, where you could join a voyage of wellbeing, see the science behind various techniques, test them yourself and record what works for you,” says Mikyla.

Mikyla was determined to make the book beautiful and uplifting, which is where Indigo Violet came in. “She’s a character I drew in ink, who turned out to be quite cheeky and fun to be around.”

Every chapter begins with a drawing to illustrate the topic, often with a splash of humour. “Drawing Indigo Violet is quite entertaining for me – she’s a character who likes to live life to the full. If I’m ever feeling down, I think ‘now what would Indigo do?’ And I see her in my mind’s eye, leaping for joy, or getting some sky on her head, or getting into her body. I follow her lead and feel much better.” 
‘How to Love and Be Loved – Tiny steps to connecting with love and life’ is published by The Company of Smiles Ltd, RRP £12.99. Available from all good bookshops and online at Amazon.

How to love and be loved book illustration

Ink drawing illustrations of Indigo Violet by Mikyla Limpkin

Related

SUPERLATIVE SUPERNOVAPRO

SUPERLATIVE SUPERNOVAPRO

SUPERLATIVE SUPERNOVAPRO

Promotion – Supernova PRO

Hair straightener, curling tong and wave wand – all in one tool. The new SupernovaPRO is a game-changer. 

Supernova PRO tools

The SupernovaPRO is a world’s first – a heated styler incorporating a fully functioning straightening iron, curling tong and wave wand in one ultra-sleek hair tool, no attachments required. Use it to create defined waves, bouncy curls and straight hair, all while softening, smoothing and hydrating the hair. Honestly, it’s a game-changer. Let us talk you through it.

Retailing at £299, SupernovaPRO is exclusive to salons across the UK and Ireland. To become a stockist or purchase at the wholesale price of £199 plus VAT, visit supernovahairtools.com/pages/creativehead

Backstage at Fashion East A/W24

Firstly, this tool is professional standard (it was the tool of choice for the team at Fashion East A/W24), with a 9ft swivel cord and featuring a nifty patent-pending DoublePivot™ system that relieves pressure on the median nerve, reducing your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome (how cool is that?). Heat-up time is just 30 seconds, with variable heat modes of 165C, 185C and 205C, and it’s compact, lightweight and has universal voltage – your ultimate travel companion!

Now to the performance part. The straightening iron evenly maintains your chosen styling temperature from root to tip, with contoured, floating plates that allow for quick and snag-free styling on all hair types and lengths. The ceramic plates are infused with proprietary Trionic™ technology that restores and strengthens the protein structure of the hair, locking in moisture, adding shine and boosting elasticity.

The curling tong creates fast-forming, dramatic curls that stay locked in, with a unique tapered design that offers styling from 36mm width to 26mm width. Innovative safety features include a protective cool tip to hold the hair in place while you curl and a built-in safety stand so you can put the tong down safely during styling.

The wave wand helps you create modern, tousled waves, with a unique tapered design that means you can style all hair types. No wonder celebrity stylist Alex Foden calls it the “Tesla of hair tools”. 

Retailing at £299, SupernovaPRO is exclusive to salons across the UK and Ireland. To become a stockist or purchase at the wholesale price of £199 plus VAT, visit supernovahairtools.com/pages/creativehead

Yolanda Cooper

Yolanda Cooper

The SupernovaPRO is the brainchild of Yolanda Cooper, whose Conscious Beauty Group is committed to sustainable, clean, conscious beauty. In the Supernova PRO this translates to an automatic safety cut-off after 45 minutes to conserve energy, while the patented SmartSwitch™ technology only switches on the heaters you need for styling – inner for straightening or outer for curls and waves. All external packaging has been uniquely designed in non-plastic alternatives and the brand also offers a recycling programme for end-of-life hair tools.

The SupernovaPRO is revolutionary. How could you have lived without it?

Retailing at £299, SupernovaPRO is exclusive to salons across the UK and Ireland. To become a stockist or purchase at the wholesale price of £199 plus VAT, visit supernovahairtools.com/pages/creativehead

Related

L’ORÉAL COLOUR TROPHY OPEN FOR 2024

L’ORÉAL COLOUR TROPHY OPEN FOR 2024

L’ORÉAL COLOUR TROPHY OPEN FOR 2024

From Future Talent to Moving Image, the iconic competition is now open for entries in both the UK and Ireland.

2023 Irish winners

2023 UK winners

The legendary L’Oréal Colour Trophy has opened entries for its 2024 competition, welcoming all hair pros in the UK and Ireland to take part. 

With six categories in the UK and four in Ireland, the competition shares a platform with professional colourists to showcase their artistry, shining a spotlight on creative colour with a firm eye on future trends and commercial looks. 

Now in its 68th year, the L’Oréal Colour Trophy’s mission is to uncover talent from all corners of the UK and Ireland. Entrants across all categories are invited to create a colour look on any model, of any gender or any gender identity of any hair type. The deadline for entries is 19 April. 

Alongside the original Colour Trophy category in both the UK and Ireland, there is the STAR Award, and also the Future Talent Award, for younger colourists to make their mark.  

Unveiled last year, the Moving Image Award returns to both the UK and Ireland to celebrate colourists excelling on social media. Entrants are asked to create a reel on Instagram or TikTok between 30-60 seconds of a finished hair look that illustrates real skill and delivers impact. 

In addition, UK entrants can also compete in the Afro Award, specialising in a hair type texture between 3C and 4C, in addition to the Colour Specialist Award, aimed at those stylists who have completed the Colour Specialist education programme with L’Oréal Professionnel Paris. 

In 2023, Sheffield’s Scullion and Scot won the L’Oréal Colour Trophy Grand Final in the UK, while Zeba Hairdressing scooped the L’Oréal Colour Trophy Ireland title. 

For more details on all the categories, visit lorealcolourtrophy.com or lorealcolourtrophy.ie. 

Related