A beacon of education and expertise, Academie salon operates a little differently to most, with a whole lot of integrity, realistic incentive structures and endless creative opportunity. And stylists, they’re looking to hire.

From the outset of Academie, makeup artist Mikele Simone and partner in life and business, editorial stylist and expert colourist, Richi Grisillo have done things a little differently. There’s the off-street Annandale Church the pair elected as their ultimate space, the complete custom fit-out visualized by the boys and built by Andrew Gilmore, and the choice to charge clients less and provide staff more.

For the pair, it’s quality not quantity – a brand mantra that is felt as soon as you enter through the brick façade and into the minimalist space with maximum effect. A beautifully curated canvas for passion to make its mark on the lives of staff and clientele alike.

“With no disrespect to the plasterboard, down light-style salon, we wanted to manifest a holistic atmosphere where clients can come and get their hair done by a hairdresser and their makeup by a professional makeup artist (in Mikele). This opposed to a makeup artist who knows a bit about hair or vice versa,” Richi said.

Solid names on the Australian session circuit, between them, Richi and Mikele have influenced marie claire, L’Officel, Pages Digital and Fashion Journal, directed MBFWA shows and led beauty across campaigns including Sass and Bide, Karla Spetic and We Are Handsome.

Opportunities that will continue to roll in not only for the boys’ grounded nature and serious skills but for that little pit of fire called passion – the intangible trait often earning a bad rep for misuse, misunderstanding, or worse, misguidance.

It makes sense then that ‘passion’ is exactly what both Mikele and Richi seek in existing and potential staff – they’re all about the rare quality in things, the hard to find, the inimitable; the influential.

“Passion may seem a little overused, or taboo, but we don’t want to employ people who ‘just want to work in a salon,’ or ‘just want to do photo-shoots,’ we want staff hungry to explore it all. That’s what consumers want these days, someone who is educated in the industry,” says Richi.

“I’m a very passionate person,” begins Mikele.

“When I moved to Sydney nine years ago I was living out of a suitcase in a share house with 30 Irish people and working a job that gave me 10 hours a week. Now. I feel like my life is set up, and that’s because I’m passionate about what I do.”

“If passion drives someone’s career they’re going to get a better result than if they’re driven by money. When people are constantly looking at their commissions it’s really uninspiring,” Mikele says.

You are what you attract. Launching in December 2015 with two seniors and one apprentice, Academie now welcomes seven staff plus more on Saturday’s, and is home to current Australian FAME Team Finalist and salon Style Director Laura Spinney.

A thriving team driven by an achievable commission structure, ongoing creative opportunities, mentorship and a salon culture serious about education.

“We want the targets to be accessible – they’re very generous,” Richi says.

“We hear a lot of industry frustration in constantly moving targets and it gets to the point where staff demotivate themselves. It obviously needs to benefit the business, but we want to keep Academie’s incentive structure realistic. I’d rather have staff with money in their pocket for rent and nice clothes, opposed to an unhappy, unmotivated team – that’s not good for anybody.”

Academie nurtures people and partnerships, and values strongly its alliances with Wella Professionals, Cloud Nine and evo. Richi has been a valued Wella colourist for over eight years, and more recently accepted an invitation for he and Mikele to design and execute a tailored Sydney-based education class for the brand.

“We’re big believers in ‘you’re only as good as your education’”, said Richi.

“We don’t look at education as ‘Great! You can cut a one length now, here’s some clients,’ we treat it as more of a rite of passage. There’s a lot of talk at the moment about hairdressers graduating at a standard below average. I want someone to leave here and at their next place of work, to be asked, ‘wow! Where did you train?’”

It’s no surprise then that, thanks to the industry’s most powerful marketing tool, word of mouth is driving a loyal client base addicted to the outstanding results and open-house vibes of Academie with some clients travelling from as far as Wollongong, Newcastle and the Northern Beaches every three-to-four week’s.

“The majority of our clients are fashion conscious and feel comfortable in their own style. They want that city, eastern suburbs feel but are happy to visit locally,” said Mikele.

“And that’s what we wanted when we built the salon – it’s a space you would see in Surry Hills, Paddington or the CBD, but without the feeling that you’re intruding on some kind of elite culture when you step through the door. It shouldn’t be that hard to get a haircut!”

It seems Academie is a simple case of ‘treating others how you wish to be treated.’ There’s a reason why we’re taught this simple life lesson at such a young age and in an era where we’re caught up in our own lives – the real and the Instagram version – Richi, Mikele and Academie are a pleasant reminder that integrity, respect and the consideration of others may not bring overnight success, but will deliver fortune in droves overtime; time well spent.

Interested in joining the Academie team? Contact Mikele at academiesalon@gmail.com to discuss further.