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The Wrap: Haircare Australia 2019 Business Summit

Exploring personal values for a greater level of professional development, the Haircare Australia 2019 Business Summit in Noumea, New Caledonia was a lesson in life every single attendee gained from, all while becoming part of an extraordinary extended family, writes Cameron Pine.

August 16 to 20 has been the start of a new journey for many where mindset, personal confidence and leading by example has been implored to forge a solid business. In a world fueled by ego, somewhat pointless patterns and reactive behavior, the perfectly curated Noumea notes from everyone who was there, has guaranteed not just more connection but a distinctively better hairdressing brand.

Officially opening with a speech by Ward Gauvin, Haircare Australia Director, Ward gave a firm nod to the family culture of the company and the signature success created by Founders Geoff and Jan Gauvin –  for Haircare it was all about doing business differently to the norm, in a different location where mindset took precedence over any other distraction. To be great leaders, checking ourselves first hit home as the most powerful method of leadership for 2019 as a strong year of change and uncertainty for our industry prevails.

“Professional development is something I’m passionate about, so investing in yourself personally is what we are delivering to help develop and grow your business,” Ward said.

Spending time on your business, according to Haircare Australia is something that should be non-negotiable, it’s invaluable considering the last six months have seen tough times in our industry, relatively flat growth across many sectors, it’s important to mix up the mindset to achieve more.

Overall, the Hair and Beauty industry is growing modestly at 1.4 per cent a year and is expected to reach 5.1 billion by 2021 – but the real reality here is that these figures are a mix of both hair and beauty and more than 8 per cent of salons still fail.

Phil Nosworthy

At the conference’s end, after the incredible line up of speakers including Bruce Corbett, Phil Nosworthy, Lorean Cairns and Louise Mahler, Haircare founder Jan Gauvin said that not only did the  content pull at her heartstrings as founder of the family business – but put the true meaning of Haircare on the table for all to see.

“I love this industry so much, and still do, that this weekend has made me want to go and open a salon,” said Jan.

Similarly Geoff Gauvin in his usual sense of humor but with a wealth of experience and knowledge at his disposable, gave a speech about why they do what they do, still to this day – an intent many companies struggle to find year after year.

“The most important thing to me is family and the manufacturers that we represent are all privately owned family businesses and all you guys (our clients) are family businesses and its quite unique in any business that we all depend on family,” said Geoff Gauvin.

“Business in hairdressing won’t survive unless we tackle some of the big challenges we have talked about today. We will be going through some massive changes in the next 3 to 5 years and we are working hard one what our business is going to look like in the future. I have four direct family members that put me under pressure every day – it’s a challenge and I take that challenge.”

“About six years back this was Ward’s idea to get salons together to build business. We forget sometimes that we are here to build business and I’ve been to a lot of conferences around the world with big companies and I can’t believe it but I’d have to say Ward, this has been about bloody perfect.”

Most importantly humility continues to be a strong label within the Haircare Australia Culture. As Geoff said, “If you stop learning you’ve got a problem, so keep learning. Everything we have done here this weekend starts with a vision and a culture of family.”

A healthy dose of Haircare Australia staff involvement intermixed with guest speakers provided the foolproof line up with Head of Marketing Kate Dalwood and Social Media Manager Ashleigh Reinboth talking about 4 macro consumer marketing trends in the industry and Authenticity vs Perfection respectively. Kate called her extensive experience with large multi-national brands while Ashleigh spoke of the movement towards authentic content on social, rather than constantly striving for the perfect image on your grid and how consumers are becoming more aware of inauthentic content.

Most importantly, while it’s an easier feat to tailor a conference around IBIS report recommendations, it was also important for Haircare Australia to acknowledge the high rate of failure in the industry – largely down to personal vision and mindset affecting the culture of a brand, so it was no wonder why this idea of culture and leading by example became the Summit’s prized ‘fountain of youth’ and one that flowed for 3 days at that.

“We can’t go professionally where we aren’t prepared to go personally,” was a mood setting statement by Phil Nosworthy, ringing true to the boundaries in which we create between our personal and professional life that can have a direct influence on our long term professional success.

Bruce Cotterill spoke of some economical truths, like the fact the Australian dollar has gone down 12 per cent against the US dollar since he spoke to some of the Haircare Australia clients two years ago.

We all had to write down ‘nothing is predictable’ before setting our thought to the idea that what we can be really good at are focusing on the things we can control.

“In every new role I have taken managing companies I have sat down and shut the door, turned the phone off just to write down all the things I can do better as a business manager. That’s the first part,” Bruce said.

Culture and DNA become primarily important with an ‘Australian’s’ ability to connect and put a smile on someone’s face critical to the success of a business in hair. It all falls under our clarity of purpose of ‘why are you up early’ and ‘what are you trying to achieve’

“If you act in a way that is consistent with what you want to achieve, your consistency will go through the roof. In life, we also have to constantly set and reset people’s expectations of you,” Bruce said.

“Your mindset on what you can change in your business is usually about what you can do differently to everyone else. A lot of people have values when it comes to family but forget these in business.”

Be verbal, recruit slowly, reward, communicate and advance the call with every voicemail message you leave with someone and see how much easier things get, was just one of the many proven management messages from Bruce. It can even be as simple as asking the 5 questions to staff regularly, starting simple with the first one ‘How’s it all going?’ ‘What do you think we are doing well?’’ What do you think we could do better?’, and ‘What areas are you struggling with?’. No wonder Bruce is the author of awarded book, ‘The Best Leaders Don’t Shout’ and has had more than 53 applications for a reference from leaving at top position at one of the many leading brands he’s been with.

According to Haircare Australia Marketing Director Kate Dalwood, marketing in the hair industry is 100 per cent a partnership. “Just in my time with Haircare Australia and having met some of you I have completely understood that if we are not working in partnership our messages won’t be powerful.”

“The awareness phase is where my team do the heavy lifting. Physical wellbeing brings back some of the highest searches – over 3,600 per month in Australia just on ‘how do I grow my hair faster’,” Kate said.

Moving guests through the top 2019 Macro trends across Concious Consumption, Physical Wellbeing, Mental Wellbeing, Experience is everything and Technology – the marketing mix became clearer.

Ashleigh Reinboth talked us through the rapid evolution of Instagram but to the first Haircare Australia post in 2010 by the brand founders. In 2012 celebrities joined the platform and began to cultivate large platforms, in 2013 the influencers started to play and in 2014 brands started to join the party.

“While influencers became the new celebrities from filtering to face tuning the authenticity message is what’s really important – we don’t trust Instagram anymore and people are calling it out,” Ashleigh said.

Mapping guests through some home truths like the different between the Kardashians ‘paid paparazzi’ and the real paparazzi, we’re seeing  a trend where people are liking real Instagram activity created by people like Celeste Barber – recently on the front cover of VOGUE Portugal.

“In Haircare Australia’s case, posts with the most likes are family photos of the founders and concepts that celebrate real relationships – that’s the kind of information people are hungry for,” Ashleigh said. “Be agile, trust your gut and remember authenticity wins and is what will continue to get cut through.”

Lorean Cairns

Lorean Cairns is an American salon phenomenon and the founder of nine space salon group Fox and Jane – turning a three chair salon into an international powerhouse – 150 staff members and $14 million in revenue.

Lorean talked about how she nearly lost her first salon by not being present and how a set of non-negotiables in business is imperative for a strong and lasting culture – eliminating toxic employees and creating a standard for consumers that ensures growth. Lorean’s ability to touch salon owners with her solutions to the same problems they face daily became one of the most important brand messages of the conference through acknowledgement and elimination.

Phil Nosworthy had everyone in the room checking their personal values.

“I will never go professionally where I am afraid to go personally,” he said, making everyone write it down to really check in with their own personal thoughts throughout his one hour session. Emotions and happiness became the key topics for Phil as he helped guests peel back the layers by acknowledging the very fact that while we all have emotions we shouldn’t act on all of them.

“Some days we are buoyant and other days we feel like dying. Happiness is volatile and meaning is stable – you can be unhappy with something but still have meaning and meaning needs to be manufactured in times of challenge,” said Phil.

Touching on team as well as personal barriers, Phil noted that the right to self-express should never override a team to feel safe. “I will lead others in direct proportion to how I lead myself – none of us want to be anyone else but the best version of themselves. If you don’t know what authentic means you can blow up entire relationships and miss out on who you truly are.”

Garth, Geoff, Jan, Brad and Ward Gauvin

“Who I am today should supersede the version of me in six weeks’ time.” Mastering control, discipline, understanding that ego is a projection of our limitation and the fact that standards can sometimes be perceived as arrogant is all about checking our style as a leader.

Louise Mahler is an expert in professional image and how we project ourselves from greeting to body language – an apt way to end the conference to realise the information we carry on the outside can be just as crucial in business as knowledge.

A leading communications specialist Louise is a proven performer in leaving individuals to improve their presence with things as simple as our breath and tone of voice we use to impart confidence.

“Power comes from the lower body as the leader, the tone and how you say things is as important as what you say, we can capture an audience just by guiding our eyes,” Louise said.

“People don’t need more confidence, they need breathe control and to use this as a language. The amateur practices until they get it right, the professional practices until they can’t get it wrong,” she said.

The overall affirmation from the Summit in everyone’s eyes that mental wellness is the biggest precursor to success and the biggest influence on leadership.

From a dinner at Evo island, a white party, welcome drinks by the beach at the Chateau Royal beach Club where guests stayed, to a day trip to Amadee Lighthouse Island for swimming with turtles, snorkeling, stand up paddle boarding and an lunch buffet of epic proportions – it really was the perfect platform for real connection. Congratulations Haircare Australia for nailing a level of contact that to an outsider would seemingly be an impossible level of learning.

Your leadership is confirmed.

For more information visit www.haircareaust.com

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