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We talk motherhood, staff and early inspiration with Cloud Nine Ambassador Renya Xydis.

Earlier this year, Australia’s blush-haired session-queen embraced the big 5-0, five decades that, for the most part, have been driven by a peerless passion for hair and subsequently, a solid stream of success. We’re guessing there are very few hairdressers and salon owners that haven’t looked at Renya Xydis and thought ‘how does she do it?’ From Valonz to Salon X and Renya Xydis City, to Paris Fashion Week, the pages of VOGUE, the hair (and friendship) of Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman, a loving, driven team – she’s got it all, right? Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean it has been an easy road, in fact Renya’s journey – much like most of her era – was built with many challenges. So Renya made sacrifices, hard decisions and most importantly she pushed – that passion pit always alight, burning bright.

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Lauren McCowan and Renya Xydis

In celebration of their prised ambassador, Cloud Nine extended an invite to 20 loyal clients and staff to sit down for morning tea with Renya – an intimate Melbourne Art Series affair that encouraged all to ask Renya whatever they wish – has it been easy, what’s the secret to a solid team, is all the work on your Instagram account truly ‘yours?’ And that they did.

“The resounding question was ‘why do you have the opportunities you have’?” began Renya.

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Morning tea with Renya

“I came from the Eighties era when you really got up, you had dreams but you didn’t have social media, you didn’t have (high fashion) English speaking magazines or Google – we had French VOGUE and I scaled everything looking for one name, ‘Eugene Souleiman,’” Renya reminisces.

“We had to find trends, talent and inspiration on our own. I remember a TV show ‘Elsa Klensch Style’ – it was big around the era of the supermodel and every Sunday she would talk about fashion. I tuned in religiously and the first time I met her in Paris it was insane, she was the pinnacle.”

Self-purchased flights to Paris, trips to the library and later its photocopier (limited copies only), hours seeking that golden name of influence, ‘Eugene Souleiman,’ dedicated Sunday morning’s before the television; Renya’s success is hard earned, and all courtesy of that one, often misused or misunderstood word: passion.

“There is a lot of ambition out there but people want fast money, they want to be successful tomorrow. You go into this industry first and foremost because you love hair, because you’re passionate about hair.”

“I feel sometimes the younger generation don’t understand passion, they don’t get it. Passion is about getting up in the morning and truly thinking and feeling, ‘I can’t wait to use my new scissors.’ Like me this morning, I woke up this morning and thought, ‘I can’t wait to get to my city salon and teach the team how to use this particular new tool,’ and I thought ‘fu*k I need a life!’” Renya laughed.

According to Renya, the younger generation (generally speaking) find passion in the likes of Kim Kardashian, botox and instant fame.

“They don’t want to learn the process, and the process is hard.”

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We them moved to reflection on some of the harder moments of Renya’s own process.

“When I had my children, with the support of my mother I made the decision to go back to work. My mother said to me ‘what’s the point in two women being at home taking care of two children, when you could be out building your future, get your career sorted.’ So I did.”

Renya divulged a beautiful and most memorable moment of turning 50.

“At my 50th birthday party, my two sons made a speech and said ‘Mum, we didn’t understand you, we didn’t get you, and we didn’t understand what you were doing or why we were always at Yaya’s (Grandma’s), but now we get it. We love you so much, you have taught us to work hard and love what we do, and we won’t live any other way,’” recited Renya.

And whether Cloud Nine’s gathering of guests wanted to hear it or not – perhaps it was one sole secret to success they hoped to retrieve from Renya? – It is Renya’s innate love and respect for her trade that has built her empire; that is writing her legacy. And this is something that extends wholeheartedly to staff.

“One person asked me, ‘who comes first, the client or your staff?’ and I responded immediately, ‘staff,’ and she was shocked.”

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“Staff are number one. I have to make my staff happy if I’m going to make my clients happy, that’s how you create a culture. If I have a brand new client and she’s really rude to one of my staff who I know is amazing, that client has to go,” said Renya matter-of-factly.

“But of course there are rules. If that client has been coming to me for 40 years, of course I’m going to be on her side, I love her. But if you don’t set boundaries in the former case, you’re setting the standards right then and there, ‘you can treat us like shit,’ and that becomes your culture.”

Renya spends roughly two waking hours at home every day, the remaining time invested in her salon, staff and various roles from creative director to ambassador and session star. Renya gets up, gets dressed up, and turns up the tunes that make her feel good and the vibe that keeps her clients and importantly staff, loyal.

“This is all so important to your salon culture. And lastly, open an Instagram account and fill it with the clients and the self-created images you love and really turn your business into you,” said Renya.

“And smile,” she adds.

Renya has much to smile about, but importantly she makes others smile too. She wears Gucci and is never a hair out of place, but it’s the un-ticketed things that make Renya the success story she is today – family, love, laughter, passion, people and ideas.

Thanks Ren.

For more information visit cloudninehair.com

Images via APL Photography