Wellbeing – it’s the buzzword of our era and sits alongside others like health and wellness. But what does it really mean and why is it essential to running a successful salon or barber shop business? That was the question posed to a workplace wellbeing panel of star business owners at Salon Smart, earlier this week. Colin McAndrew, owner of Medusa Hairdressing and mind and movement coach, Beth Fuller were joined by the owner of Dublin’s Wildflower, Danielle Garner and Subrina Kidd, owner of SKH, to discuss and deliberate one of the hottest talking points on the Salon Smart agenda, and in the industry today.
Wellbeing explained and what harms it
The term ‘wellbeing’ is thrown about so much, its meaning can be lost. Not so for Danielle, who understands it as “me and my team’s life being OK on a daily basis.”
So, that’s one way to understand the meaning of wellbeing. But how can you tell if it’s lacking in your business? One word: burnout – and burnt-out leaders can affect a whole team’s sense of wellbeing.
According to Beth, burnout manifests both physically and emotionally; and leaders will know they are suffering if they’re putting their own needs last. “If you look after yourself first, then you can look after the rest of the team. Teams can’t be OK, even if you’re not.”
Improving personal wellbeing as a leader
For salon and barber shop owners, striking a balance between work and play is hard, but both Colin and Danielle agree both self-discipline and intention-setting helps. Colin advocates the use of clear communication in his business, which includes switch off his phone each night by 7.30pm. Salon Smart speaker, Joe Hemmings talked about encouraging stylists to set their “dream weeks”, but what about creating one for your personal life, as the boss? That’s what Danielle does to ensure she’s getting joy and fulfilment in other areas of her life, beyond work. “Find your own little moments of wellbeing. Don’t look to social media to find them, do what works for you,” she says.
Take wellbeing to the team…
Subrina’s formula for improving team wellbeing is simple yet effective. “Remain open-minded,” she advises. “Your team aren’t all the same. They also deserve empathy, so be flexible about things like time off.”
Feelings play a big part in the preservation of wellbeing and a healthy state of wellbeing means having positive feelings about your place of work. Here, Beth says professional development is crucial to wellness. “If you’re not working towards something, you feel stale. Set goals driven by feelings rather than numbers.”
A lot of the services offered by salons and barber shops are tailored to improve client wellbeing, and that’s great, but Danielle goes further to keep the energy up for the stylists delivering these services. “If a client comes in and has clearly had a bad day, our stylists coach the client into listening to a guided meditation”, she explains. “Not only does this improve the wellbeing of the client, it supports the stylist in their work, too.”
Mental health, a hot topic for stylists? A deep-dive with L’Oréal Professionnel Paris
Wellbeing is a discussion that’s being had across all industries, but hairdressing requires special attention. Why? Because nearly 40 per cent of stylist conversations online are about mental health – and that’s before hot sector topics like education, explained Ann Marie Humphreys, general manager at L’Oréal Professionnel Paris in the UK and Ireland. Taking to the Salon Smart stage following the wellbeing panel, Ann Marie explained how brand research clearly puts mental health at the top of the priority list for British and Irish hairdressers, compared to those living and working in other countries.
What’s more, because hairdressers are a diverse bunch, including many LGBTQ+ stylists and those with neurodiverse needs, they can be dealing with their own personal challenges before they even get to the client in the chair. When they do, they’re 100 per cent ‘on’, not only for the service, but for the communication and emotional support aspect too. Sometimes, listening and taking on a client’s personal problems can add to the mix. Considering the unique demands of being a hairdresser, it’s no wonder that mental health is such a growing conversation topic.
Clearly, there has never been a better time to talk about mental health. Later this year, L’Oréal Professionnel Paris is set to launch a new mental health campaign. Dubbed ‘Head Up’ with the tagline: ‘you’re there for them, we’re here for you’, the initiative will feature free education and a supportive community for salon owners, managers, and stylists, promises Ann-Marie. Stay tuned…
Ann Marie Humphreys