We were incredibly fortunate to share a table and a laugh with industry trailblazers for the first and last INSTYLE round table of 2021. Through genuine connection and shared values we discovered the selfless spirit of inspiring others is one value hairdressing continues to hold close to its heart, writes Cameron Pine.
The objective of the INSTYLE round table is to bring salon owners together to discuss topics that help elevate and improve their business performance and share innovative concepts and ideas with the industry. With our muse as Dyson and innovation, all guests shared a common ground for empowering others and long-lasting success, but just how do they do it, and what does it feel like after a four-month Sydney lockdown and border closures?
The objective of the round table is to inspire younger generations and the general industry to not just be better creatively but better business people and better leaders. We discussed concepts of Business Management, Marketing, Operations, People Management, Leadership and Culture, but most of all, the ingenuity and opportunity created by each guest who has expanded, downsized, upsized and shifted their way through an industry that they call home.
We delved into the Yin and Yang of the business and the pleasure and what it is that makes us all show up every day. The panel consisted of these important voices – Renya Xydis – Dyson Styling Ambassador, Valonz Haircutter, Peter Thomsen – Dyson Styling Ambassador, Chelsea Haircutters, Chris Hunter – Dyson Salon Partner, Willomina, Kylie Cruickshank – Dyson Salon Partner, Judena Hair Bondi, Kelly Morgan – Dyson National Capability Manager and Cameron Pine – INSTYLE Editorial and Creative Director.
Beyond this palpable passion and warmth that comes from sharing a room in a very digital world, smiles and the presence of physical touch were by the bucket load, and the main aim of this round table activity was to discuss how change and innovation helps drive their salon businesses and teams forward, aided by product innovations like the new Dyson Flyaway Attachment for the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer and how they assist a professional salon environment, team growth, motivation and, most of all, results. However, with such a room of leaders the conversation took a deep and mature look inward to allowing every guest to be completely vulnerable and share every emotion after a long lockdown. How to approach business in a challenging environment and just the potential we have as humans to learn from true connection were just at the surface.
Through deep conversation and authentic standpoints, each participant provided their thoughts and personal experiences with their own business and personal struggles pre, during and post-COVID lockdowns while touching on the future and how we all need to move forward as an industry.
With so many personal stories as clients began coming back into the salon after lockdown we tackled the mixed feelings and the sense of overwhelm from ramping back up to identifying the power of sitting around a table. I encourage us all as an industry to have these raw conversations and from a positive standpoint – it’s here we are reminded of its sheer power of sharing and speaking together in the same room.
CAMERON: How far are post-lockdown clients going with getting appointments and transformations? Have their expectations changed? What are you going to do differently?
RENYA: The ones that weren’t really nice are so nice because they want to get in! We can’t really say with COVID restrictions that ‘time’s out for you’ so we extended our opening hours.
CHRIS: We had so many avenues; there’s Facebook, there’s Instagram, there’s Google reviews… it’s a massive job, but the clients being happy is number one so we must take care of them.
PETER: I found our clients are very respectful, because they’ve been through it as well. So, for me, it was just being understanding. I didn’t really have that push or shove.”
RENYA: I’m used to being burnt out. I haven’t done anything for four months, I’m the kind of person that goes backstage and works 20 hours. It’s not that, I’m not that worried.
CAMERON: It’s all about efficiency. Aren’t you better off being efficient in those four days, then dragging it out? So, I think it’s about being agile enough to adjust in a salon. You’re still a salon brand, but I mean how do you do that?
RENYA: I thrive on burnout and my team do. A lot of the team do. Our clients come first.
KYLIE: But do your team as well though? Because that’s not an expectation we can have.
RENYA: No, but that’s how I run my salon. Clients love your brand. They love our brand. They will not always understand other share space salons concepts. Already I’ve seen people who’ve been to that concept, not liking it and coming back. I feel like it’s a family here.
CHRIS: We’ve just got to adapt to it.
PETER: I’m not scared. I feel like, you need to adapt every day in business now.
RENYA: We have to sort of have other things like a website, education, you’ve got to start branching off into other things to make your money. So, you do product, you do this, you do that, you have to start thinking of other areas to make money while you’re asleep.
TRENDS AND EDUCATION:
PETER: At the moment there are a lot more people doing online education. So, you’re bringing them in. Now, we can be global. We’re selling our education in Paris, we could be selling it in Italy, wherever. So we have so many more opportunities after we’ve built our brand, to actually create more income.
RENYA: So, do you think your education is going to be better online, or do you still want to do the old school where you go into the salons, and you educate them?
PETER: Mine’s both. I feel like everyone wants to learn my signature looks. I haven’t done any online education yet, that’s coming in 2022, but I still want to do a personal one when the world opens, because people love that.
RENYA: I like to watch. Do you think there’s a little online, digital fatigue, though? Over the last six months as we went into digital.
KYLIE: I think it’s about different peoples learning styles as well, some people don’t learn that way. They’re maybe more kinaesthetic, they need to be there and touch it.
KELLY: Myself and Renya have had conversations about YouTube, and how some of the generation coming through now as hairdressers are coming through YouTube or TikTok. So there is an avenue for digital in this space, but is it the technical skill we need, is it kind of like the grassroots education and hairdressing, or is it just trends?
CHRIS: Having the person with you, the face and the energy, is everything. I’ve never met Pete before, you know. I met him for the first time today, and he’s got the most gorgeous energy. The thing is, I don’t pick up your energy online.
CAMERON: And I think that’s important, you have to continue to provide a pathway regardless of your business model.
TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION:
PETER: Clients themselves are excited to walk in and ask to use the Dyson hair care tools. That’s the first thing they ask. They love it! They’re actually drawn to it.
RENYA: It’s the detail that Dyson give you, just the thought of the flyaway attachment for the Dyson Supersonic.
KYLIE: I think The Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer was all about creating that luxury experience for our client. Even the fact that it’s not noisy. 70 per cent of your service is talking about integrity of the hair. So, you have to back that up with a product that helps protect it as much as possible.
CHRIS: The diffuser attachment for the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer is next level! We’ve got a few stylists and they do a lot of dry cuts. With the old diffuser attachment we couldn’t get the finish we’re getting now. So, we are using the Dyson Supersonic and the diffuser attachment for cool, textured, shaped kind of hair. It’s really nice to use the Dyson and the diffuser in particular with our salon strengths.
PETER: We’ve sold so many Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryers to men. They love it!
RENYA: I think the Dyson Hair Care tools are an investment. It’s lifelong, so it’s not going to breakdown.
KYLIE: But it’s also a lifestyle thing. It fits in, it’s compact, you can take it away for the weekend. With the Dyson Corrale cordless Straightener, you can take it to work if you’re going out, it’s in the car.
PETER: Put it on a plane – it has an in-flight feature!
CHRIS: Dyson sets the tone. When we come into our salon, the space is so new. We wanted to make sure we had the best of the best. Every station we have a Dyson Supersonic. Every second station we have a Dyson Corrale. As soon as anyone comes in, any client, any staff members, everyone is asking about the Dyson. It really is our premium technology, and I didn’t want anything else.
KYLIE: Especially with the new Dyson Flyaway Attachment for the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer people now really understand it’s something completely unique. It’s one thing that most clients struggle with, the brush and the hair dryer. But with the Dyson Supersonic Flyaway attachment, you can just go in like that and they can actually do it. Even Kieran Street’s made a pocket thing just to put the Dyson in and wear backstage to the shows. It’s so important backstage when you know that hair’s dropping doing their two walks, and you have to follow them.
KELLY: So, which is your favourite Dyson Supersonic hair dryer attachment?
RENYA: The styling concentrator, because I’m very big on nozzles. To me, I can twist it, like I can move it as I dry.
PETER: It can save time too. I think the fact that you’re not using your round brush you’re using your dryer. You can flatten those little flyaways as you go.
KELLY: Even just in any of the Dyson vacuums, that sense of design goes into other products. So then the team asks, ‘what do you dislike about the hair dryer?’, and they’ll hear that it gets too hot, it’s too noisy, it’s too heavy. So they’ll say ‘okay, so let’s see what we can do. Let’s pop the motor in the handle, let’s make it smaller, but powerful, let’s take the heat down but the velocity up, let’s make it in such a way, when the airflow comes out it actually goes straight onto the hair. It’s not going up here, it’s not going down there, it’s just going where it needs to go’.
PETER: It’s all really important, what you were saying with the inside. It’s also the outside that’s created a culture now. It’s like the iPhone, it has a cult following.
CAMERON: It’s also the excitement around the Dyson brand, I’ve lost track of how many people I’ve seen post of Facebook when buying a Dyson product of any kind, and it’s not every day you can completely trust what you’ve spent your money on. It’s a conversation starter for anyone.
KELLY: We’ve seen that now, with men we’ve seen male grooming as really taking off. So, part of that then has been hair as well. So, you’re right, all of a sudden in the bathroom the partner has bought it, but then the other person’s using it as well. Whichever sex, it doesn’t matter. I’m picking that up, and I’m using it! We’ve had a lot of males come back with the gentle air; it tends to be cooler on the scalp. So, then we’ve got males who may be thinning, going ‘actually now I can do a style, I can create and it’s not burning the head as well’. So, it’s very versatile.
CAMERON: I think it’s the associations with not picking up a hair dryer, as a male, I’m picking up a Dyson. There’s a difference. I’m happy to use it because that’s not my girlfriend’s product, it’s a design I like. It’s eliminated that barrier. It’s something that everyone can relate to.
KELLY: When we as Dyson started selling, we knew that it wasn’t just going to be pigeonholed for females. It was kind of like, this is for everybody. Any hair type, any person can use this product to create what they like.