Bringing together a significant 250 salon partners and guests at the Gold Coast’s JW Marriott for the first time in four years with all states in the one room, the emotion filled 2022 focus was on how collectively we can make a difference to the future of business while leading innovation, writes Cameron Pine.

As a group of brands, L’Oréal Professional Products division unites salon owners each with the same mission to be leaders in their field by this year combining all brands including Redken, Kérastase and L’Oréal Professionnel salons with the same opportunity to grow and share the priceless take-aways that come only with being in the same room.

“We are taking you on a journey through artificial intelligence, augmented reality and showing you how to better serve consumers in the future,” said L’Oréal Professional Products division General Manager, David Higgins.

“L’Oréal as a business is a leader in, if not all, but most of these innovations and they are going to make you a little uncomfortable. Overall we are changing and the dot com is an important part of the business if you are going to continue being successful. We are going to show you how to position yourselves to better serve the digital revolution with an online and offline education strategy to ensure you meet the demands of the consumer of the future,” he said.

Firstly, understanding how the pandemic has caused a significant shift in our workforce values, social norms and consumer behaviour was the first step manifesting a sustainable business model for the future. It’s through this mindset approach where we have also seen the biggest shift, as salons struggle with staff more than ever before – encouraging growth with a positive mindset remains as the ultimate challenge.

Kicking off with some positive energy and enthusiasm only seemed fair on the speaker front, as Dale Sidebottom confirmed that to be well you must lead well.

“We need to tell people what they mean to us. Don’t buy green bananas and put them aside. Buying green bananas is the same as suppressing all of the things that are important in your life,” Dale said.

Sandy Chong from the Australian Hairdressing Council talked about ethics, technical stats on where our industry is going and the many workplace challenges we all face. Having been in the industry for more than 50 years Sandy assured everyone that simply everything has changed.

“We were once just a street shopfront, but the business model has changed in so many ways. Staff are changing – they want freedom, no commitment and more money,” Sandy said.

Penny Burke ispurely and simply a marketing and advertising expert, having led some of the world’s biggest global brands, from tobacco to tool hire companies, and knows story telling better than anyone else.

“Your business is about what is here now, what are you famous for. Your ‘lighthouse’ is what you are famous for, you must sell the dream,” Penny said.

Harley Davidson don’t just sell bikes they sell the dream – there is room for everyone. Penny used the discount pharmacy and traditional pharmacy example. Get the business model right and both have highly successful potential even in a discounted mindset marketplace. Touching on the power of kinaesthetic learning and how we must maintain the importance of touch, Penny admitted its human nature to be at the point of disaster before we do something about it.

“We just need the right mindset to go forth and be famous,” she said. Finding our Fame Touchpoint in each of our businesses and in what we do everyday left conversations buzzing with how to maximise those often hidden strengths in a salon.

Head of Education and Digital Sylvia Stewart unpacked the true value of education for business, encouraging the use of L’Oréal’s supreme Access program the company heavily refined through a global pandemic. With a commitment to both physical and digital education with the new Melbourne Education facility the newest and most innovative in Australia, a continual investment in knowledge remains at the forefront for the L’Oréal Professional Products division.

Lara Woolley

Dylan Alcott was a key favourite of the conference by many guests – an inspirational story in one sense but a hard sense of honesty and relatability in the other. An Olympic medal winning athlete, at the age of 17, he became the youngest Rollers gold medal winner at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. His story now is about setting up opportunities for people with disabilities and inspiring others to rise above negativity no matter how hard it may be. Having set up the Dylan Alcott Foundation, Dylan continues to help young Australians who may be struggling to come to terms with their disability turn their life around, just like he did.

Clare Payne is a globally recognised leader for her work in ethics and finance with a strong personal commitment to social issues, making us aware of many things each day we take for granted and may not even notice in business. A published author, with two books, ‘A matter of trust’ in Finance, and ‘The One’ embracing the single life, Clare’s strengths apply to the ethics and daily challenges of any business involving people.

Cara Riley, Marketing Director of L’Oréal Professional Products Division, provided an insight into consumer beauty shopping trends and the breakdown of female beauty consumers from bargain hunters to the discerning. She also showcased the brands’ target consumers and how as a company the L’Oréal Professional Products division targets them by understanding consumer data and the importance of data to the salon environment, revealing interesting insights into consumers’ hair types.

Dr Catriona Wallace is an expert in the field of artificial intelligence, having been recognised in the Financial Review as a leader in woman in business and entrepreneurship. Catriona informed guests whether we are into NFTs, crypto or digital currency or not just how much effect it is continuing to have on our economy and the future of business. Catriona is the first Artificial Intelligence companies to list on the Australian Securities Exchange.

“Regardless of currency it’s important to understand we are all oscillating in the one direction and it’s this element of diversity we need to use in business and teams,” Catriona said.

Catriona also explained Web3 – a third generation of internet services for websites and applications to deliver a better understanding of data. So for the future it seems we will be going to the ‘Metaverse’ and beyond.

Adam Fraser is a peak performance coach and expert in getting the most from our brains and understanding how we react to cortisol, adrenaline, serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline and how we maintain alertness and productivity, Adam revealed some key strategies we need when dealing with the most complex species in our business of all – people. From how we react in the ‘first space’ before we interpret what happens to us and end up in our ‘third space’ to generally being more present in what we do, Adam’s expertise on the brain is forever fascinating.

Adam has worked with elite athletes and sporting teams, special forces soldiers and business leaders and what is unique about his research is that it focuses on how people go beyond their potential without the collateral damage that normally comes with elite performance. Often success comes in the form of broken personal relationships, poor physical and mental wellbeing and lack of fulfilment and connection. In Adam’s books, ‘The Third Space’ and ‘Strive’, he uses great transition strategies to find balance and happiness by clearing our headspace from work to home to live better lives.

One thing that remained special to the L’Oréal conference family was the ability to share ideas that take us to the future – concepts that we may not yet be comfortable with yet, but must embrace at some point in our business. With the transformation of the industry and the rise of independent stylists, omnichannel marketing and digitalisation of the salon, L’Oréal certainly reinstated their position as the leading partner for a future of growth.

L’Oréal Professional Products division took pride in delivering an experience to salons that they can’t wait to share again next year, elevating the in-salon experience in an inspiring ripple effect. Long live face to face learning.

What The Salons Say:

Sharlene Lee, Circles of Subiaco

“Dylan Alcott was my favourite – the pure positivity that makes us reassess our own lives and what we believe to be hardships. The amount of motivation in his story is enough to motivate anyone. If you were feeling down about the last two years through COVID, that story instantly changes your perspective from a negative to a positive.”

Ash Croker, The Salon by Ash Croker

Dylan Alcott was incredible! He opened my eyes to the expansive world of disability and the awareness we should have. Sandy Chong was also incredible as always, I loved hearing about the new indigenous program and disability work placement program. L’Oréal is always so impressive and its great the hear all about the vision and sustainability movement till 2030. I love being around fellow business owners and hear about their experiences in this incredible industry.”

Dennis Kovalyov, Alternative Hair Colour Studio

“The favourite element for me was the incredible selection of inspiring speakers with relevant subjects that are affecting our business now. I can’t wait to be back again next year.”

Tom Donato, Xiang Hair

“As usual, the conference was informative and inspiring from a business owner perspective. Keynote speakers were all on point with their respective expertise and Penny Burke’s presentation on Finding your Fame was superb and her message resonated deep opening a floodgate of ideas that I can definitely work on for my business. Dylan Alcott also hit home with the most inspiring outlook on life that I have ever had the pleasure of hearing and Dr Catriona Wallace captivated the entire audience with her take on the ever-growing Metaverse. She took a difficult subject on with an insightful explanation of a new world experience. All in all it was a great couple of days of inspiration and long overdue catch ups with some amazing industry leaders.”

Scott Sloan, Sloans

“I was super impressed with the quality of the keynote speakers this year, I personally got so many ‘take home’ points for both my business and me personally as a salon owner! From Dr Adam Frazer taking about the third space and clearing your head space from work to home, and Dylan Alcott opening our eyes and minds to the challenges he has faced and the work he is doing to raise awareness for all Australians with a disability.”