Held over two days at the idyllic Marnong Estate just 45 minutes outside of Melbourne, on October 23 and 24, combined more than 150 of the Aveda network, exceeding all expectations and proving more than ever the important role of connection to the survival of our industry, writes Cameron Pine.
The Aveda network is like no other hair and beauty brand, from its plant powered 100 per cent vegan formulas, ingredient sourcing and wind powered manufacturing, to the brand’s constant pledge to support the health of hairdressers through traditional Ayurvedic principles and give back to the communities in which it trades. To further cement this philosophy, Marnong Estate was the perfect backdrop, offering boutique accommodation, a winery and a conference space all in one. With endless rolling hills, animals and even camels in the backdrop it was no ordinary venue.
Welcoming the group from as far as Western Australia, Brand General Manager, Corrine Duffy paid respects to the uniqueness of the location and the Aveda tribe in a hand-picked location set for nature, nurture and a premium experience of connection. Members of the Aveda family from overseas, including Japan and Hong Kong, travelled to share their knowledge and share the invaluable experiences rich to the Aveda brand.
“Most importantly I’m just so grateful to have you all here. When we were talking about an Artist Retreat especially for you, we sent out a survey and we were going to reintroduce the Color Harmony Awards but you showed us that there’s a lot going on in your business, staffing constraints, teams are stretched and so many other factors and this is the result of what you said you wanted from us,” Corinne said.
“We still intend to go back to the celebration of Artistry with Color Harmony, and the Aveda Congress has also inspired us a lot for this event to celebrate true artistry. It’s also not often you get to take time out and spend it with all of your friends within this network and meet new people. But there’ll be things that we do over the next two days that really help you unwind, relax and recharge. It will also help you become familiar with some of the wellness aspects of the Aveda brand that you may not have experienced before, because we have a number of new salons who have joined us today.”
Leading each segment with the Aveda brand video – a powerful portrayal of a brand deep rooted in its traditions and connection to community – the spirit was one of care and consciousness. This level of brand integrity further prompted a bracelet ceremony with Aveda’s Megan Loyd, National Sales Manager of APAC, who ran all guests through this real ice breaker style exercise to reset each guest in the room to be open to meeting new people. Deep rooted into the Aveda heritage of wellness, the bracelet ceremony was seen as a great way to start the weekend off with collective consciousness.
A deep-rooted tradition in each and every product and service still emanates through the network today. As Aveda Founder Horst Rechelbacher used to say “feeling beauty is the cause. Looking beautiful is the effect. When you feel good inside you look good outside”. The real message set at the beginning harnessed this belief, that true success can only come from a calm place of authenticity and setting the intention for the ripple effect of life from the beginning.
What power does the ripple effect have you ask? Well quite simply when we focus on improving one aspect of our life, the positive effects often stem beyond the immediate area of change – influencing other areas in unexpected, yet welcome ways. In a group environment of creative and business minds this can be even more powerful.
After the wellness ceremony, introduction and a healthy lunch, the focus zoomed straight in on scalp health – a notoriously underrated aspect of hair health and an increasingly problematic issue for consumers, due to various lifestyle factors and a change in stress levels since COVID-19 in particular.
Freshly launched in 2023, Aveda Scalp Solutions uses the powers of plants and green chemistry to completely transform the health of hair – with a 100 per cent Vegan ethos.
“Until now, scalp was not really discussed – we spent a lot of time as hairdressers doing what we do and not looking at the scalp. The scalp goes through maturisation just like many other aspects of skin,” said Aveda Clinical Spa educator, John Hickey.
John joined Aveda’s Matthew Wickham and leading trichologist Chelcey Salinger to really uncover scalp concerns and debunk many scalp myths that often stem from misinformation of scalp and hair health, like daily cleansing and practices many are told to adopt that affect the overall health of your scalp.
“It’s not until, dare I say the COVID world, that the scalp word has become relevant. COVID did some terrible things to us – it changed our lifestyle choices, we had to work at home, tie our hair up and many of us lost our routine,” John said.
Chelcey Salinger IAT is a consultant trichologist at the Australian Trichology Centre where she specialises in hair loss and scalp problems in women and men.
“I’ve seen a big increase in the number of patients coming in to see me who are worried about common scalp concerns. Scalp is the kind of foundation that holds everything together and it gets stressed and things can happen,” Chelcey said. “The main thing that causes ageing is oxidative stress and cellular damage. The biggest tip that I could give you is antioxidants – they are really effective when applied topically as well. I know that Aveda ranges are excellent with antioxidants in in their products. I also particularly like the hyaluronic acid and lactobacillus ferment in the Scalp Solutions range to balance the scalps microbiome.”
An important take away was that, more often than not, it’s an oily scalp that makes it dry and flaky and not just a dry or irritated scalp like is commonly perceived.
Passionate about empowering others, Sita Chan then delved into the world of Ayurveda, where it originated and how far back this holistic approach to life started in India. Sita Chan has been using Aveda for 30 years, even before her time working with Aveda as the Education Director for Asia Pacific. Sita herself traveled to India to learn about Ayurveda to ensure her role as an Aveda educator leads with authenticity always.
Sita explained the three types of Ayurveda – Vata, Pitta and Kapha – and put all guests through an exercise to find out which type of Dosha they were, uncovering learnings about sense, stress responses and personality traits in the process. For all guests it was surprising how linked our overall wellbeing can be to certain things that align or don’t align with our body.
Masa Honda and Keiko Tanaka travelled from Japan, after having just returned from Aveda Congress in Minneapolis together. They presented an incredibly artistic interpretation of their journey as hairdressers and how they are inspired by nature andtraditional Japanese gardens in Kyoto, as well as artists who uses silk screens to transfer colour and how it inspires shape and design in hairdressing.
Masa became an Aveda salon owner in 2011 when he opened Honda Aveda Hair and Spa in Kangawa, Japan. He now owns two Aveda concept salons and manages four Honda Premier Salons, which have been in his family for over 60 years.
The main inspiration for his recent collection was famed Japanese anime, Mononoke – this series follows the conflict between forest and humans and explores themes of environmental preservation and co-existence.
“Creativity, business and new ideas are very important. The business of salon work is a lifestyle fuelled by creativity and products – without this we as artists are not inspired to do the best work for our clients,” Masa said. “We respect Japanese cultures like anime and the process of fabric dyeing also inspires us to be more precise and creative as artists.”
Keiko also explained how she believes Mononoke best relates to nature and how traveling and meeting other hairdressers is important to give you the motivation to improve.
“Even today Masa and I still learn off each other everyday,” Keiko said. “The number one inspiration for me is being able to do what I love while looking after my family.”
Bernadette Beswick showcased what she does best and that’s cutting. Bernadette is an experienced educator and now winner of the AHIA Victorian Hairdresser of the year for two years running. Bernadette believes in precision cutting and that energy as a hairdresser is contagious.
“It’s important to acknowledge verbal and non-verbal communication. How we stand as a hairdresser affects our result the energy and our haircut. Precision cutting is the heart and soul of what I do as a hairdresser,” Bernadette said. “I believe that everyday with clients in the salon you need to bring your best energy in order to service people better. Aveda looks after the planet, the hairdresser and the client – that’s what makes the brand unique and brings a beautiful energy to our work. Every time I educate I remind the artists that it’s not about me, it’s about the client and the consultation, that’s what makes you a good hairdresser. Education always wins, the more you get, no matter how old young or whoever you are – new energy is essential.”
Bernadette presented Magenta as part of her No Vacancy AHIA collection to showcase something classic, ageless, timeless and creative that can be adapted to all ages.
Nathan Yazbek wowed the audience with a 1980s themed show. Conjuring up Studio 54 vibes and a bygone era of fun and glam, Nathan had three models that represented a time of hedonism and music. One of his looks was inspired by a disco ball, the second look a simple curly hair texture look and the third look was a nod to frizz.
“We saw an awesome collection by our Artistic Director Antoinette Beenders a few years ago at Congress, it’s important whenever we are doing something whether in salon or editorially that we celebrate diversity,” Nathan said. “A relationship with Aveda is a long-standing one, I was drawn to the products right from the beginning. Post-consumer recycled packaging and the vegan message is important to our clients now. Not only this, they are high performing luxury products. Through the right products and people you can inspire yourself with so much in this industry – collaboration with other stylists is the best way to be inspired and make the most of your creativity. It’s so unique to be able to celebrate wellness as well as beauty and artistry and recuperate all in one on a retreat like this.”
Bringing together Aveda salon owners and artists from Melbourne for a panel, Aveda recognised the importance of community and collaboration and how business has changed since COVID from consultations, to products and a more integrated holistic health approach. Charlie Forte from HDC Salon, Pete Dunn from Frankie Salon and Mathew Wickham from Aveda, chaired and open discussions with questions from the audience.
Incorporating wellness into their consultations is a key part of Aveda’s brand philosophy and the reason why clients come back, to help clients not only look good but feel good inside and out. Aveda’s continuing point of difference is the in-salon ritual to their ‘elemental nature’ assessment as a starting point for consultations. All holistic assessment helps determine a client’s elemental personality and guide their recommendations for products and services based on their unique characteristics and needs.
To unwind after a busy morning of learning and inspiration attendees were also split in two groups to enjoy Sound Healing with Romy Paltoglou. Sound Healing is a holistic practice that uses the power of sound and vibrations to promote physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. It’s based on the idea of connecting the body to the therapeutic effects of the body, mind and spirit. The Sound Healing set the scene for a fire ceremony where each guest burned their affirmations in front of each other and held hands to help ensure total immersion in the spirit of intention on the lush grass surrounds of Marnong Estate.
Enjoying the surrounds of the estate at dusk, guests then ventured into an evening of canapes, drinks and networking with live music and plenty of local wine – proving that the time to unwind together is core to the Aveda network and the reason salon owners make an effort to step out of their own business and learn priceless information through connecting with others.
Aligned with the Aveda principles of giving back to the community and the land in which we live, Marnong Estate also holds a considerable historic significance to the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people, as a farming property and former homestead dating back as far as the 1840s. Given Aveda’s breadth of environmental conscience and significance to the land, there was no better place to unite a collective of hairdressers bound by the same values that speak to none other than Aveda principles..
In addition to the rapidly growing retail side of the brand itself, customer loyalty in the professional network, artistry and collaboration remains a strong force. It’s an ethos that ensures that once a client embraces Aveda, it’s difficult for them to deviate.
The ripple card I pulled in the group exercise was adequately on-point – “I create an emotionally safe environment so others can express freely without fear”. I can’t think of a better way to summarise a powerful and passionate Artist Retreat.
For more information visit www.aveda.com.au
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