All the Best Bits from the Business Live Seminars at Salon International 2021

by charlottegw / last updated October 21, 2021

business live seminar

For the first-time ever we ran Business Live sessions, sponsored by NHBF at Salon International 2021. Here’s a couple of things we learnt from covering the sessions.

Presented by Chris Mooney, the first day saw debate open up, conversations continued long after the panel talks were over, and hopefully, positive change within the industry in a number of key areas. 

Sunday 17 October


On the panel: Karine Jackson, owner of London’s first sustainable salon
Gina Conway, Aveda’s trade sustainability ambassador
Anne Veck, who opened the first carbon neutral salon business in 2019
JC Aucamp, salon owner and director of Salon Sustainability 

Key learnings

  • Get the carbon footprint of your salon 
  • Don’t forget that having clients sit in the chair for 45 mins- 1 hour is a great opportunity to talk to them about sustainability 
  • It’s a myth that sustainability is expensive. By changing your lightbulb to LED you can reduce your emission for 10% and they’re less expensive 
  • If you’re opening a new salon you can start afresh 
  • Get your team on board. Write down everything you do as a salon with you team and look at ways you can all reduce energy and be more sustainable.
  • Save hundreds of pounds and reduce waste with colour management apps and compostable towels 
  • Shout out to Green Salon Collective who take away foil to repurpose it and use in a new way


Salon Inclusivity 

On the panel: Melissa Timperley, Melissa Timperley salons
Errol Douglas, Errol Douglas, owner Errol Douglas London
Sophia Hilton, Not Another Salon founder
Keri Blue, founder of Hair has no Gender 

Key learnings

  • Helping people shape their identity is an integral part of our job so it’s crucial that as an industry we welcome everyone 
  • Ask the clients their preferred pronoun and put your staffs preferred pronoun on your website 
  • The fear of making mistakes shouldn’t stop you from making positive change. People should be comfortable to ask questions and accept that they might make mistakes along the way. 
  • Why not charge on time instead of length or hair or male / female? 
  • Diversify your social media feed!
  • If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Anything to do with training – just ask your peers! The hairdressing industry loves to help connect, educate and inspire people. 
  • If you are in the process of becoming more skilled in textured hair, don’t charge full price for those services. Look to give complimentary or discounted pricing.


Changing the Model

On the panel: Julian Dalrymple, owner of The Hub Salon

Phil Jackson, salon coach

Harriet Stokes, freelance based in Hunter Collective

Casey Coleman, freelance and UK ambassador for Cloud Nine


Key learnings

  • An integration of both employed and self-employed hairdressers in your business is most likely the future – ‘the new model’
  • COVID-19 accelerated the process of a greater intake of freelance hairdressers that has already been happening for almost a decade
  • Hiring freelance stylists is more financially beneficial for the business as they use their own products, or can purchase from your stock
  • Although this model creates ‘fragmentation’, this is good as the industry is coming out of an identity crisis in which Covid has proven the hair industry falls more neatly under a ‘craft’ so deserves greater freedom
  • Freelancing can be challenging when going it alone as there is a less of a community around it – so this model and others (like Hunter Collective) are ideal
  • You have to create a friendly environment and hold each stylist, no matter if they are employed, to the same standards.
  • When freelancing, it’s important to your own site – remember, you are a business!

Planning Ahead for 2022

One the panel: Richard Lambert, chief executive NHBF

Rosina Robson, policy director

Antony Whitaker, Grow Your Salon Business

Key learnings

  • The economic landscape is still uncertain; there is positive growth at present although many salon owners are undecided on whether to make redundancies. This outcome will affect whether we see more growth or a lull in the economy
  • The Covid Effect: Trends that were already in the making have been accelerated by the pandemic
  • Both employers and staff are now seeking more flexibility and work-life balance (such a shift work or having every other Saturday off). Consider how this can realistically work with yourself and your team
  • Gen Z (aged 17-24) are at the forefront of these changes, and the top priority wants are flexibility, autonomy (64% of hairdressers are now self-employed) and wages.
  • Education is already shifting to include online learning and hybrid options that combine virtual and in-person training, helping to negate the effect of lost profit from having salon staff away on courses.

Mental Health Awareness 

On the panel: Jo Irving, salon owner and business/life coach

Jordanna Cobella, owner of Cobella and author of The Mindful Hairdresser

Louis Byrne, hairdresser and I can, I am, I will founder

Tom Chapman, barber and founder of the Lions Barber Collective and Collective Pride Awards

Key learnings

  • There are five pillars of mental wellness, including: 1. Connect with other people,  2. Be physically active, 3. Learn new skills, 4. Give to others and  5. Pay attention to the present. Many hairdressers and barbers do these by nature as part of their jobs, however, it’s important to set aside time and boundaries for yourself in order to do your job well.
  • Hairdressers are ‘the unofficial therapist’ for their clients. Understand that this can often become an emotional burden and try to fit small moments into your working day to take time out and decompress. Instead of scrolling on your phone on your 5 minute-break, head outside for fresh air, drink some water and reclaim these essential moments as your own.
  • Be open about mental health with your team, peers and clients. We can often worry about not knowing what to say when someone opens up to us. But letting them know that you’re there to talk can build trust amongst your colleagues and clients if they are struggling.
  • 72% of those who commit suicide did not see a mental health professional – but they will have visited their hairdresser or barber. Don’t underestimate the importance of your role within the profession. Spotting that a client or colleague is not themselves and supporting them could save their life.
  • In an age of social media, remember to create boundaries with clients who message. It’s important to take time out to prevent burnout.
  • Teach younger team members the importance of emotional intelligence and body language which can act as crucial cues when speaking with a client.

Monday 18 October

Recruitment, Education and Apprenticeships

On the panel: Wendy Cummins, chair for Trailblazer Hair

Caroline Larissey, director of quality and standards at NHBF

Edward Hemmings, Alan D education

Key learnings

  • Recruitment is becoming harder than ever; finding adequately trained apprentices and juniors who have the right ‘job ready’ skills
  • A current challenge is finding junior staff to stay within the salon business model. Many are looking to go freelance at the first opportunity. To retain staff, highlight the importance of having a team to support you, the payroll to support them through their pension and to learn from other members of the team that they might miss out on during freelance work
  • Covid has left a gap in students who are ready for employment. If you’re struggling to hire staff, let clients know your business intentions to hire. More often than  not you can find good quality candidates through your clients, friends and family members.

The Business of Money

On the panel: Hellen Ward, consultant and managing director for Richard Ward

Stephen Nurse, operations director for Daniel Galvin

Phil Smith, chief executive officer at PHIL SMITH BE GORGEOUS LIMITED

Key learnings

  • There are lots of benefits of working with employed staff. Many stylists and managers are looking for stability and this is what is provided.
  • It’s easier to sell a junior stylist on being employed full-time to the salon than a more experienced stylist.
  • Always keep up communication with your stylists to ensure they stay around, even when this involves them wanting to drop their hours or work on other things.
  • Paying someone 40% when employed is actually around 50% when factoring in everything.
  • If rolling out a new payment system, try it out on one of your best and most trusted stylists for a few months and then introduce it to the rest of your team.
  • Avoid discounting at all costs – instead increase value and create an experience
  • As a stylist, you don’t have to be great at everything. Instead, use the individual strengths of your team to cover all grounds and allow them the freedom to engage with the hair types and techniques they enjoy the most.
  • When retailing, don’t have too much variation. Stick to key products that you trust.


Social Success 

On the panel: Jack Howard, educator

Talisha Cox, owner of Elite Hair Lounge salons

Rachel Gibson, LWPR

Key learnings

  • Find your niche for your business and emulate this on social media
  • Get social! Communicate with your clients and follow them one social. Leave comments and start the conversation to increase engagement and build your following
  • Strapped for time? Batch create content on specific days and use content scheduling platforms to take the stress out of posting manually. Or ask a colleague to help you film or shoot content as you’re working on your client
  • Find your audience. Are they on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok? Focusing on your key social media platform will help you find and attract your ideal clientele
  • Capture behind the scenes content – think colour processing, washing out colour at the backwash or showing a styling technique to create interest on your post

Building a Brand

On the panel:
Lorenzo Colangelo, The Gallery
Mark Woolley, founder Electric Space
Jo Martin, director of Jo Martin Consultancy
Adam Reed, founder Adam Reed London

Key learnings

  •  Tap into clients on an emotional level. Use the example of Paul Smith – you know the experience you’re going to get in one of his stores
  • No one has a business that doesn’t have peaks and troughs 
  • Sometimes when your profile and business looks like it’s doing great, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes for example you might be stretching your finances to cover new projects
  • We’re about to enter a really exciting time post pandemic and we’ll see a lot of creativity  
  • Keep the business and the brand separate, says Adam Reed. He believes that business looks after the money, the brand is what people see.

Talking Teamwork 

Colin McAndrew, Medusa Hairdressing
Mike Taylor, founder Mike Taylor Education and Bond’s Barbershop
Darren Fowler, Fowler35ldn
Ken Picton, Ken Picton Salon 

Key learnings  

  • The biggest issue we face as an industry is finding staff, keeping them and (sometimes!) getting rid of them 
  • You can have great assistants that don’t turn into good stylists 
  • Giving praise is key. Ken Picton shared that he started the week with 10 coins in his pocket and would transfer them over to the other pocket when he praised his stylists. It was his way to reminding himself to do this one crucial thing!
  • Your team can be your best recruiter 
  • The panel agreed that they would rather employ someone that has passion, than skill level as that can be taught
  • If you have any bad eggs in the salon, get to the root of the problem first before firing them!

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