2020 has been an undoubtedly difficult year, and while the challenges are some we don’t wish to go through again, it has paved the way for introspection. For the Australian hairdressing industry, which has suffered to different degrees in various states due to the pandemic, much of this has been strangely affirming, with the hardships only drawing attention to the community’s significance, connections and strength.

We’re looking at some specific examples of what the hair salon industry learned about ourselves this year, and patting ourselves on the back for most of it. Join us.

1. Your clients need you

The legal or chosen closure of salons hit clients hard, and they rushed back in droves when allowed back through salon doors.

“I’ve never seen anything in 25 years of hairdressing like the last week,” said celebrity hairdresser Joey Scandizzo the week Melbourne salons opened. “We’re in week two and the phones don’t stop, they’re just going and going, the emails are coming in, people are on the waiting list at the moment. People want to look and feel great again so there’s pressure to try and get everyone we can.”

Never again wonder how your clients feel about you, it’s safe to say you’re at the top of their priority list.

2. Hairdressers thrive with education

While down-trodden and depleted by the pandemic, you would assume hairdressers would have creatively stalled, but instead education only grew and innovated. Social media classes were an instant hit earlier in the year and, even while in lockdown, teams came together to virtually learn and grow.

“Not only was the team active via lockdown, they were still connecting and seeing each other,” said salon owner Marie Uva, who implemented a rigorous weekly education schedule for her team during Melbourne’s lockdown. “I kept in contact with my staff three times a week and as a team we still had that contact and I think it was really important not only to utilise the time and try put a positive spin on the fact that we weren’t able to open, but we looked at what we could do with this time. We’ll never get that time again to do some of the training sessions that we did and we had amazing sessions with people that shared inspiration with us that my team would never be able to usually have.”

3. Looking and feeling good is essential

In a year of hardships for everyone, looking and feeling good was possibly more important than ever. Major change in the salon in itself became a trend, replacing holidays, events and other banned activities to give clients the excitement and happiness they’d been craving. “Change is as good as a holiday” has never felt more prevalent.

Beyond that, self care was particularly paramount, whether in retail or through your salon services, which became a vital tool for escaping daily struggles, indulging and prioritising mental health.

4. You innovate out of hardships

Innovations and resilience have been major qualities strengthening salons dealing with different levels of the pandemic. Home hair colour kits were a particularly major innovation, allowing for tailored salon colour care to extend beyond the salons for struggling clients, while education innovation, a heightened and versatile focus on retail and client communication changed it up without slowing down.

5. Salon trends never die

Some creative stillness may be expected when the world has actually stopped, but salon trends, colour trends and even celebrity trends stayed constant, even when experimenting with grown out roots or at home hair disasters informed those trends.

6. Your close bonds with clients

As clients went back to salons in Melbourne on thing social media stood out as a consistent trend – that they missed you, not just their service or the salon space, but in so many cases their close bond and friendship with their hairdresser. How many other professions can claim this closeness, where uniting goes so far beyond hair to comfort of actually seeing that friendly face again (even behind a mask)?

All in all 2020 retaught us something I think we already knew – the salon community is something else, creating, always learning, innovative and so very important. As we get through the last month of 2020, here’s to a better 2021.