Jo Dyer, co-founder of YOKE THE SALON in Plymouth, talks team management and wellbeing 

Jo Dyer

“To set the scene, we’re an ethical hair salon based on the Devon coast, just a few metres from the sea. We’ve created a special space beyond that of a normal salon environment; we’re known for being thoughtful and creative – it flows through all we do. Our whole vibe is reflective of how we nurture our team, from supporting their personal wellbeing to embracing their professional passions.

It’s a crew of 14 emotionally intelligent and talented stylists that thrive in an environment that gives them confidence. I want a structure without hierarchy, so Steve and I lead the team but give the team freedom and encourage feedback. We are a business that cares; staff are employed, which brings stability and security with a pension, maternity and sick pay.

The team shape our working hours; we work a four day week and our Saturday working hours are 8am-3pm. We close for a fortnight at Christmas. Quality of life matters and we want everyone to enjoy where we live, with Dartmoor on one side and endless beaches on the other. Flexibility is essential; we say yes to as many requests as possible, allow sabbaticals, and always let the team get involved in industry opportunities.

In terms of managing the team’s busy schedules, every stylist is given sufficient time for appointments. Our buzzing atmosphere is intended to have a vibrancy and warmth to it but nobody should feel rushed. We don’t overbook nor do we allow anyone to work through their lunch or outside of their working hours. If a stylist is slightly slower, we make adjustments. I’m proud of the ethos and strong support system we have at YOKE.

The importance of people

We put people first, always. We’ve got a team like no other that put heart and soul into their work, and it’s why it’s both a happy place to work and why we have such loyal customers. Our team is at the heart of YOKE and we treat them with care and help them personally and professionally.

It’s about being human, so treating everyone as individuals and showing that they are both valuable and valued. We talk constantly, are always honest and reassuring. As well as the very basic requirements of keeping our team happy and safe, we go above and beyond. We seek to constantly motivate and nurture the team, treating everyone as individuals and with respect. We hold weekly chats to keep on top of issues, offer emotional support. And we offer counselling sessions and regularly talk to the team about mental health matters.


Dedicated to nurturing talent, we constantly invest in development, including education and training. We invest in developing our team’s strengths, to be the best they can be. We create a training plan with each team member at the start of the year, often running in-person courses with the best educators in the industry. The team are involved in a range of training opportunities and competitions, which we aid through covering costs and time off, and encouraging the best in the business through our doors.

Team-building matters to us, and we’re lucky to have a team that is genuinely keen to spend time with one another in and out of the salon. We are a close knit squad and enjoy weekly drinks, breakfast before work, and sea swimming together. I feel happy and fulfilled in my work and within this team – and I want exactly that for everyone else too.

Community first

Central to our values is being an active part of the community – and creating truly memorable and meaningful experiences for our team and our clients. For me, the pandemic intensified that need for us to support others, build connections, make the salon a safe and inclusive safe, and have a greater community focus and feel.

We’ve become confident in our identity and we do things a little differently in the salon; turning it into a community space, hosting events, allowing pop-up retail for local makers, becoming a yoga studio and an art gallery celebrating the South West’s talented artistic community. We also work in collaboration with other local independent businesses and we actively support local charities. There’s so much more of this in the pipeline and I’m really excited about what’s next.


The benefit of good relationships

It is an uncertain time, but we’ve been through a turbulent few years and it’s about taking the positives from the lessons learned and resilience shown. The one thing that has been integral to me through all of this has been the benefit of good relationships – and nurturing relationships is my biggest piece of advice to others.

When it comes to relationships with your team; keep communicating with staff, talk to them as much as possible and often as possible, be honest and reassuring. We have created a culture rather than a workplace and this only comes from putting the wellbeing of our team and our clients at the heart of how we run YOKE, and we like to uplift and support others on our way.

Relationships with other salon owners is really important too – I really believe in creating a good network and proactively expanding a like minded tribe. Having those friendships is vital for me, it means I can share experiences and learn new things. Creating or joining a network of people that you respect is crucial, it’s a sounding board and place of safety to talk about work and the industry. There is support out there if you look for it, for example Joe Hemmings at Bloggs, Bristol does a monthly Zoom that anyone can sign up to and he’ll share his experiences with the group. Be active within positive communities in the industry, and reach out to people that you think are doing things really well. Look for those who share your ethos and outlook and you won’t go far wrong.”