After a two year hiatus and a challenging landscape for connection, De Lorenzo ASPYA proved yet again why it sets the industry standard in loyalty programs with a heartfelt agenda true to the brand’s humble DNA where leadership comes from the heart, writes Cameron Pine.
De Lorenzo and its most loyal army of ASPYA program salons celebrated a milestone 20 years of ASPYA in the brand’s home city of Sydney – the largest ever group of attendees that topped more than 250 at Darling Harbour’s sprawling Hyatt Regency. The ease of travel and the yearning for face-to-face connection was at an all-time high.
The conference included inspiring educational sessions, as well as two unmissable night events. Guests enjoyed a disco-themed, decades-inspired harbour cruise boat party, as well as the annual gala event to close out proceedings. This included a hair fashion showcase and a performance by the inimitable Ricki-Lee Coulter.
Kicking off with a more colourful than usual tribute to the country from the Kari singers, the tone was set for a conference well beyond business content but one that created that much-needed boost we all need right now.
A proud heritage as an Australian made and owned brand to the highest standard and ethics, De Lorenzo ensure the spirit of Australia lives on in everything they do, by acknowledging, giving back and providing a level of support and empathy unparalleled in the industry today.
During the last two years they have continued to refine this approach to not just their products but their practices. De Lorenzo Director Chris De Lorenzo spoke about how they have used this turbulent time to further refine their core values with a new mission statement: “Respecting our world, our legacy and people for a brighter future through our products.”
“We have also used this time to upgrade our Novafusion line with new colours including Novasemi colours and masks, Quick Fix, our DMAN Shampoo Bar, Busy Street styling product and our new DMAN Probiotic Skin Tonic,” Chris said.
A globally high-performance brand with a home-grown disposition, the company’s sense of warmth proved why the real power of such a conference gathering comes from those in the chair next to you. This year it was all about instilling a sense of calm in a highly chaotic and stressful world while reconnecting with the reasons we chose hairdressing.
This sense of laid-back Australiana was also perfectly captured in the newly launched Reverie Spring Summer 2022/23 collection, first seen by ASPYA delegates who all receive full use of the images in-salon.
Guests were given a sense of comedic reprieve as De Lorenzo’s infamous emcee Rob Carlon was back for another year with an inherent ability to both inform and entertain guests the entire way through the conference program.
This year marks an exciting new collaboration for the company by joining forces with indigenous artist Jacinta-Ra Ridgeway Maahs, a proud Worimi woman and long-time De Lorenzo client. Jacinta shares her connection to country in beautiful, contemporary illustrations for the De Lorenzo Limited Edition Christmas pack and Instant Restructurant prints collaboration, and in De Lorenzo’s support of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF). Not only this, but the collaboration is also expected to be a long-lasting one, as her unique aesthetic makes its way into the inherent connection to the land qualities of such an iconic brand. The commissioned artworks will be featured across Prescriptive Solutions, Instant Series and Bond Defence, as well as a limited edition tote bag, and a limited edition Instant Restructurant, with $2 from every bottle sold donated to the ILF.
“In collaboration with Jacinta-Rai we’ve learned that health and education are the two major areas of concerns for indigenous communities; we believe that the ILF has an impact on these rural communities, and most importantly all donations go back to these communities and aren’t absorbed by admin running costs,” said De Lorenzo Marketing Manager, Bridget Bajada.
“She’s one of us and a loyal member of the De Lorenzo family,” Chris added.
De Lorenzo took the community spirit of the brand into the devastation of the Lismore floods with a special guest panel featuring emcee Rob Carlon and Peta Tillett from Lazuli & Co Salon, whose salon was completely underwater in the Lismore floods. She revealed how she coped, rallied for the industry and rebuilt in a town that still has not been adequately rebuilt itself. Not only this, but she lost both her home and her salon at the same time. Her story was one of true insight and courage, which took on an overarching theme throughout the conference.
A second panel featured the infamously creative Michael Wolf, who talked about his new book titled Hair Unlimited and his passion for transformation and unbridled creativity, continued to inspire the entire De Lorenzo network. Michael’s story of overcoming cancer was too an incredibly touching experience.
“I love individuality. I love the client and customer to walk out with the daring. Taking the client’s hair from long to short and doing something quite different,” Michael said. “The idea of this book was to do something really editorial and not something that was super trending, it’s a reflection of my business from 20 years until now and all money raised by sale of the book goes to the St Vincent hospital.”
Justin Herald is the director of Customer Culture, a global company and story of success that began in a market selling t-shirts. From humble beginnings to the author of eight International best-selling books, Justin’s advice is blunt and somewhat ‘old-school’ but with new age relevance. It’s always well received for business owners wanting to cut through the noise.
“You always have the power to change who comes in from just one idea. My one idea turned a brand into a 20 million annual company,” Justin said.
Not only this but since selling Attitude, he is touted as one of 50 most influential leaders of the next generation. Some key takeaways in his presentation included some direct anecdotal quotes including learnings around finding your competitive edge.
“I am black and white and there’s no grey with me. If you’re not in business for that personal stuff you want then your business might not be working,” he said. “Having a company policy on customer service but not properly training your frontline staff is like throwing a party but forgetting to invite anyone to come. There’s a huge difference between compliance and competence, make sure you train your staff properly – education without action is useless.”
Sandy Chong of the Australian Hairdressing Council (AHC) came in blazing with true industry advocacy armed with interesting statistics and a snapshot of where the industry is at. The reality is that our industry needs about 4,500 new hairdressers a year to grow. Research conducted by the AHC with sole traders also revealed that 65.9 per cent chose that path to work their own hours while 26.3 per cent said they were mistreated by a salon owner.
“A lot of you are asking, ‘where are the staff?’ and none of us are unique here, we will find out where they are and there are a number of reasons for that,” Sandy said.
We are witnessing a changed industry with a plethora of well-functioning business models from studios to suites and rent a chair formats, there’s a new standard of options, not to mention more than 63 per cent of apprentices leave in the first year.
“It’s also not good enough for your ads to just say you’re hiring. You have to remind people what you offer, things like ‘if you would like to get back the vibe, the tribe, the atmosphere and culture of a hairdressing salon, then we have something for you’,” Sandy said.
Josh Norbido is an illusionist that specialises in unique events and transforms the ideology of business and selling into ‘the magic of sales’ – instilling quick wit and comedy into the interactions we have with others and how to say yes to the impossible.
“A sale is simply the transfer of enthusiasm from one person to another. Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I’ll remember. Involve me and I’ll understand,” he shared.
Mental health expert Tina Winchester talked through the fundamentals of mentally well workplaces. She is the co-author of the first online mental health wellness program, titled Career Development and Mentally Well Workplaces. Tina’s background in the field is long and impressive, having worked for 10 years for the NHS in the UK and as Assistant Mental Health Commissioner. After this Tina took some time off and really defined her brand and advocacy for mental health awareness.
“We need to stop looking at mental health as a taboo thing and have a look at what it means. There is a mental health continuum where gut health and mental health are really linked. How we can better diagnose mental health and manage anxiety? Those physiological changes are important for the wellbeing of our workplaces,” she said.
Tina gave an insight into what to look out for and how to better manage several things from staff not being focused and getting things done all the way to managing more extreme accidents or issues.
Paul Frasca from Sustainable Salons gave a typically energised insight into just how far they’ve come and how Sustainable Salons is looked to across the globe as the leader in sustainability, now not just across the salon industry, but across many businesses and platforms. Sustainable Salons supports 22 different charities and is the largest donator of hair to the medical wig market.
“We have more than 6000 people go through our salon directory every month, and 10,000 website visits a month with more than 76,247 customers visiting a Sustainable Salon each week,” Paul said.
Almost 30,000 bookings have been made through the Salon Locator ensuring your online presence and sustainable profile is becoming an increasing concern for consumers.
Julie Cross almost needs no introduction. As the queen of Sparkle who already known to many salon owners, her ability to turn negative situations into moments of Sparkle are unmatched. Julie is inspirational across almost any topic from retail, health, lifestyle, wellbeing and, most importantly, family. She resonates deeply with everyone she presents to – connecting with everyone in business from Director to the Assistant level. We all learn more about ourselves just after one interaction with Julie. In her seminar, she delved deep into the lessons behind courage.
“It takes courage to wear a sequin jacket, it takes courage to stand out. We must shift conversation and focus on what we do want and not what we don’t want,” Julie said.
There was so much to celebrate with such a sense of Sparkle at this year’s conference, particularly the legacy of the De Lorenzo family, the constant commitment that stems from Chris and Anthony De Lorenzo who both gave great insight into where the company is continuing to head and how they will continue to do business with their loyal salons. Also essential is the selfless attitude towards giving back and remaining humble that is a rare commodity in today’s business landscape.
Testament to this, De Lorenzo recently purchased 100 trees at Sutton Forest in NSW, which will outweigh their carbon consumption, continuing to ensure they are a carbon neutral company.
As with every De Lorenzo gathering, the conference ended with the acknowledgement of awards for long-term ASPYA clients of more than 15 years and beyond. The following salons were inducted into the Hall of Fame – Bex Hair Lounge, A Cut Above, Hair Stylist and Fine Line Hairdressing.
In 2020 De Lorenzo was forced to cancel a Phuket conference last minute due to COVID. Much to the excitement of guests, they have just announced that in 2024 they will return back to Phuket with what they hope to be an even bigger celebration of courage and their resilient network of salon owners.
To 2024 and beyond, a De Lorenzo partnership is just like family – forever accepting new challenges, but forever rewarding.
What the attendees said:
“Attending the De Lorenzo ASPYA Conference is always amazing from beginning to end! I always come away more inspired, motivated and enjoying time with true friends.”
Lisa Marie, Lisa Marie’s Hair Beauty
“The De Lorenzo conference is always an amazing experience. I love the friendships that I have made over the years and I always come away from the conference inspired and full of new ideas to develop my business to a higher standard.”
For more information visit www.delorenzo.com.au
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