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Hair Expo: Top Salon Summit

Following on from an extremely successful 2010 experience, it had long been Hair Expo event Director Julia Erben’s dream to bring together the best of the industry and provide a VIP experience into the world of some of our most respected creative business brains.

The theme for this year’s summit provided inspiration in bucket loads – aptly titled ‘the business of fashion’. To kick things off, guests learnt from the Prince of couture, Alex Perry while soon discovering that the high-flying luxe lad stumbled into the business without a business plan.

“After saving $15,000 in the 90s I opened up a small shop in Kensington –opposite Peter’s of Kensington and while this was no premium location, I soon learned it was a good decision considering all of the eastern suburbs types that would travel to shop there,” said Alex.

Alex Perry

“For the first years of the business I kind of just cruised along – for me it was really about surviving month to month and I didn’t have any money for advertising so editorial was my free means of being exposed,” he said.

Over the years, Alex has embarked on many strategic alliances with brands ranging from electrical to eyewear.

“The real objective is to get to a point where the brand is well known and becomes synonymous with other brands. These things will only happen if your core business is really strong. I didn’t have any of this in the beginning but what I did have was a good work ethic and great family support.
The key lesson here is that there are so many other businesses out there with the same core values – and this is what makes a strategic alliance so worthwhile.

Macala Wright Lee

Macala Wright Lee is the founder and publisher of FashionablyMarketing.Me. She is a business and consumer marketing consultant for fashion, beauty and lifestyle-related brands and an expert on the increasing complexities of the online world.

By providing an educational insight into how to market to Gen Y consumers in a facebook era, Macala revealed some interesting statistics and says that Gen Y are ‘self-important, spoiled and passionate’ while contributing to 150 billion dollars a year in goods purchases while influencing another 50 billion of what their family and friends buy.

“Gen Y is all about pairing high-end with low-end. Brands like Jean Paul Gaultier and Isaac Mizrahi will not stop partnering with stores like Target anytime soon,” Macala said.

“Typically Gen Y will look at seven different sources before buying an item and they will buy from the site that has the most useful information, is presented in a way that is easy to understand while being factual and inspirational – that’s quite a demand,” she said.

Some other interesting facts that Macala revealed covered what are now commonly accepted social media mediums– 63 per cent use social media to engage with brands and 50 per cent say that facebook blogs or pages affect their opinions about products. Of all social media, facebook has the strongest daily usage. “You’ve got to make them connect otherwise they won’t buy something,” Macala said.

Aurelio Costarella

Further bolstering the brains behind the fashion business was Aurelio Costarella who’s ‘from the heart’ presentation revealed the highly volatile fabric of fashion and the ups and downs of a business built from passion.

Aurelio started his studies in architecture before taking a slightly unconventional change in direction towards becoming a fashion designer. Since launching his label in 1984 he has shown his designs at New York Fashion Week, and gained international stockists. He is now based in Perth.

“Just like the fashion industry, my brand has really evolved over the years, finding the right fit is never easy when it comes to business partners and after a very unsuccessful listing on the Australian Stock Exchange I realized I was better to own my company outright,” Aurelio said.

Enduring many ups and down, Aurelio admits he has “always been very practical with businesses and decision making and it’s all the good and bad experiences I’ve been through as a person that as shaped me as a person today,” he said.

Ant Williams

Finishing off the inspiring series of speakers was Sports Psychologist Ant Williams – an elite athlete whose achievements demonstrate the incredible power of the mind. As one of the best free divers in the world, he has pushed through both physical and mental barriers to hold his breath for over eight minutes, to dive deeper than 280 feet in the ocean and to swim 223m without stopping for breath. In short, he knows how to overcome some of the most demanding and uncomfortable challenges a person can face.

“There is something quite remarkable about being deep in the ocean at a place you are not supposed to be while being very relaxed and okay about things. We all have T minus one challenges but I find ‘Choosing to Change’, ‘Reframing your challenge’ and ‘Getting centred’ as the three things that get you through the T minus ones moments. Whatever challenge you’ve got, think about how you can reframe it,” he said.

Ant finished off the day with some enlightening and insightful breathing exercises which took guests through the four stages of breathing. We often breathe using our diaphragm – and not enough deep breathing. “We all need to learn to handle those moments where we most want to give up,” he said.

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