Geared towards the true meaning of creative connection, another annual European adventure brought together more than 2000 L’Oréal Professionnel hairdressers and business leaders in Spain’s picturesque Seville, writes Cameron Pine.

There’s so much more to a successful business than just the right product mix – such long-standing security lies in an investment L’Oréal Professionnel continues to make in its people from all over the world. For them, the importance of bringing them together to create an overall better hairdressing industry is essential for the professional division’s future. Bridging the gap between the perfect cuts and colours and what they actually mean for business – encouraging hairdressers to be better business people is a constant challenge, and one that L’Oréal Professionnel takes very seriously.

Australia is fortunate to lead the way not only in business but also in style with this year’s conference featuring a host of Australian guests artists and stage presenters including Scott Sloan and both Damien Rinaldo and Craig Smith presenting on the final Gala show night to the entire LBF global audience. Both Dani Sollier and Jamie Furlan also showcased their highly creative approach to hair on the young talent stage. Each brought a lightness of touch and dimension rarely seen in other countries – proving that as an Australian hairdressing industry we have so much to be proud of.

Built on the fundamentals of a brighter future – celebrating world-leading innovation, artistry and empathy for the individuals that make our industry great – it’s a reason why salons continue to stay loyal to the L’Oréal family.

Following on from a highly impressive event in Lisbon in 2016 – Seville was chosen for it’s colour, beauty and contrast – elements brought to every annual forum and something that each year the people give a unique and individual approach to. Retail incentives, colour clientele, colour creativity, styling signature and serious creative entertainment are just the foundation for an event that every attendee takes something different home from each year.

Famous for flamenco dancing, gothic cathedrals and brilliant weather – guests enjoyed 30 degree days, low humidity and excessive amounts of Spanish sun in between a forum schedule designed to inspire and not tire.

Soaking up business knowledge and networking it seems not the only advantages – Spanish food at the forefront of guest’s priorities, exploring Seville became a natural part of this year’s LBF.

As L’Oréal Professional Products Division International General Manager said, “This is our reason to be – we are here to take a look at our new 2018 campaigns and goals and to see colour magic and how we will continue to transform your business,” she said.

This is when we were able to witness the creative mastery possible with a new range of temporary colour paints, accents and glitter effect colours titled ‘Flash Pro Hair Make up’ – giving instant results for the ultimate head-turning statement without the downtime of traditional hair colour. Perhaps one of the most exciting new launches of the forum – Flash Pro Hair Make up adequately meets the incessant demands of the ‘now’ client every salon has. It was also where L’Oréal further emphasized the idea that haircolour is the new make up by reacting with a professional line that behaves just like the mastery of make up.

“We face a new generation of women that is both addicted to fashion and ultra-connected, women who express their personality through hair colour and style to transform themselves just like with make-up,” said Marion Brunet, the brand’s General Manager.

“L’Oréal Professionnel has both the ambition and strength to address these needs, thanks not only to its broad portfolio of innovative products and services but also its talented Hair Artists whom we work with worldwide,” Brunet said. “This three day event is a living example of the strong partnership that unites and has been uniting L’Oréal Professionnel hairdressers for over a century now.”

Something Marion describes as a ‘dream job’, working with such a talented group of hairdressers and one that whether an award winner or not she believes every hairdresser in the room has the passion to be better – something very unique to the hairdressing community.

The three day program felt more like four mixing masterclasses, business seminars, inspirational shows and pop-up presentations with just the right amount of networking and time before and after the big night of nights. From the Fibes arena to some of Seville’s most iconic locations, touch of history the heart of hairdressing found its home in a city that evokes a strong sense of emotion and passion.

Also forming a key part of the event is the annual L’Oréal Professionnel Style and Colour Trophy – which for the first time in 2018 will afford Australian Colour Trophy entrants the opportunity to compete on a global scale. We are definitely looking forward to seeing some of Australia’s incredible work siting alongside the best from other countries involved in the prestigious program.

We learned from some of the world’s best hairdressers and noticeably the most acclaimed in their respective countries. Adam Reed sent us to styling superstardom and given new advice on the ultimate business ideas from Frank Gambuzza – owner of Visage salons in the United States – his salons featured in the Wall Street Journal and leading magazine such as Vogue and Elle on a regular basis – it’s business with a beautiful edge.

Kinki Kappers – a multi salon brand from the Netherlands has more than 35 salons, built on an ethos of those that dare to stand out and on the basis that trends are there to be manipulated and played with – their insight built on the ability to be different whether people like it all not, “being memorable is not always about what people like,” Kinki said. Starting in 1984 the interior of these salons looked nothing like a hairdressing salon., but that’s what LBF is all about – challenging the norm and forcing hairdressers to think differently.

“In essence, nothing has changed! We just expanded a lot as a group, with more devoted hairdressers who always put their heart and soul into this fantastic profession. Quality is still extremely important, and we work from a sound technical basis from which we launch our original ideas. We were long considered the ‘enfant terrible’ of the hairdressing sector, but we honestly know what we are doing. We don’t just randomly cut, or dye everything green, yellow or blue,” Kinki said. But now it’s this approach that has the world looking – it seems being different for long enough will too encourage imitation.

Team USA suitably impressed the crowd with their commercial dexterity mixed with creative mastery. Comprised of Min Kim colourist – a colour specialist from renown Butterfly Loft salon in Los Angeles, Nancy Braun – the consummate Balayage pro, Theresa Adams brought colour trends to the forefront of the ultimate service – the tipping point for any successful salon. The tipping point – that’s where ultimately everyone wants to be, and each segment showcased practical and proven ways to get there in the salon every day.

Bringing Ireland into the mix was Dylan Bradshaw – one of Ireland’s most known salons in the heart of Dublin’s hairdressing mecca. His team Aoife Bradley and Jenny Dawson won the first every International L’Oréal Professionnel Style & Colour Trophy held in Lisbon in 2016. This year he joined the international judging panel for the highly anticipated Colour Trophy live finals.

Guylaine Martel brought the awe-inspiring creativity to the stage. Her passion around hairstyling took creativity to new realms at the business forum. As an ambassador for L’Oréal Professionnel Canada she has won 1st place at the World Haute Coiffure Française Competition as well as the Elite Master title at the Contessa’s Award.

However, the real icing on the cake this year was having a very unique and what seemed very popular group of Australian legends on stage – headlined by Damien Rinaldo and Craig Smith with a free-from and highly inspirational show on the final Gala night – it was certainly the high the audience wanted to finish on – receiving acclaim and recognition well beyond the night itself.

Craig Smith joined Damien on-stage – known for his calm and confident approach to the ultimate hairdressing craftsmanship – this seven times Australian Hairdresser of the Year finalist together with Damien’s bespoke approach to creating and not imitating, brought an approachability and relaxed talent to the stage that is rarely seen at such a large scale international forum.

Scott Sloan also presented his own seminar on how to increase colour clientele – inspiring the audience with the Sydney aesthetic and some practical ideas on how to avoid clients lengthening their visits and to ensure more clients are having a full colour service. His brand video made us all home sick even just days after leaving Sydney.

Showing just how much money is lost by clients lengthening their visits was a harsh awakening for many in the audience. “Last summer I looked at the money my blonde clientele was spending in the salon and it was going backwards. Unfortunately for us as salon owners two years ago balayage and ombre became a trend and regrowth and dark roots became cool which was not cool for our bank balances,” Scott said.

Scott looked at just how to get clients in more often and what promotions encourage more frequent and express colour services – he also spoke of the importance that the images your salon puts on social media are the types of colour clients you want to come in and spend money in your salon.

Internationally present since 1954, the L’Oréal Colour & Style Trophy brings together top talent in the industry comprised of teams including a colourist, stylist, designer, make-up artist, wardrobe stylist and model to invent the new cut, colour and style trends for the year.

Comprised of six award categories including, ‘Colour & Style Award,’ ‘Colour Award,’ ‘Young Talent Award,’ and “People’s Choice Award” with eight opportunities for participants to win.

The looks winning looks from each country were judged in Seville by Dylan Bradshaw, Kinki, INSTYLE Editor Cameron Pine and the L’Oréal Professional Products Division Global Education Manager after all finalists competed live to re-create their looks. It was the real testing ground to see if the accuracy of the images could be re-created. This year’s winner Alexey Nagorsky from Salon Brush in Moscow Russia was overwhelmed by the recognition in such a prestigious competition (visit lorealprofessionalbusinessforum.com for a full list of winners).

Each category requires the salon teams to conjure up an incredible colour look that is executed for perfect editorial representation while taking inspiration from current trends – the cornerstone of the LBF program.

So whether it’s trends, the ability to talk to people you really only get one chance in life to meet, stand on a world stage or just be supportive of an industry that creates some pretty amazing things, LBF 2017 was just another reason why 2018 will continue to tickle the fancy of the world’s leading salons.

For more information visit lorealprofessionalbusinessforum.com