In case you didn’t get the memo, L’Oréal Professionnel don’t do things in half measures. So when they invite hairdressers from every corner of the nation to indulge in two days of creativity, education and networking, they commit to every inch of that invitation.

500 hairdressers descended on Melbourne’s Crown Complex for the brand’s second annual Colour Jam event, and found a place where hair was allowed to push its theatrical limits, the scope of education was inimitable and simply having a good time was intrinsic to the proceedings.

Joe Cotroneo on stage during the Sweet Decadence performance

International guests and iconic names from the UK hairdressing industry, Chris Williams and Andy Heasman from RUSH Hair and Beauty, headlined the event. The main stage show paired these names alongside the very best Australia has to offer, in four alternatively themed productions.

First up on the night was the 2016 Australian Hair Fashion Awards Hairdresser of the Year winner herself (that’s Caterina Di Biase, not that you needed the introduction), who transformed a multitude of models on stage, attaching hair pieces, removing wefts or styling each look to rapidly create up styles from nothing or unveil trendy short crops before the audience’s eyes. A French Film Noir-theme pervaded the show, with an ultra-feminine, dark aesthetic anchoring the myriad of modern cuts and bold colours.

Caterina Di Biase on stage

Next, Damien Rinaldo and the ID Artistic Team presented Flower Bomb, a colourful ode to fresh fragrances and vibrant hues. Six creative looks covered everything from Damien’s famous hair-sewing technique to interesting up styles, all with notably versatile textures. The talented team of emerging artists used scissors, clippers and every styling tool at their disposal to transform these final looks on stage.

Damien Rinaldo during Flower Bomb

The theatrical run continued with the L’Oréal Professionnel National Artistic Team and their show, titled Sweet Decadence. Think a lot of pink, fairy floss-esque textures, pastel hues and delectable details. The team comprised of Brad Rixon, Jamie Furlan, Melissa Gesualdo, Joe Cotroneo, Scott Sloan and Wayne Chappell, with Brett Albury, Dani Blakeley and Danielle Solier in charge of colour, created a visual treat that definitely made the audience hungry (or was that just me?).

Sweet Decadence

Lastly, Chris and Andy reinterpreted your favourite circus characters in hair show-form, with clowns donning rainbow bowl cuts, acrobats wear multi-hued short crops and a contortionist called the Freakshow wearing detailed braids as she slithered around the stage. Through Cirque, the Rush duo seamlessly merged hair and entertainment, presenting the dramatic and playful side of hair education (a playfulness that made its way onto the after party that immediately followed).

Jason McAllister during Cirque

The feature show was preceded by a healthy dose of business education, with a portfolio of the brand’s brightest names discussing social media, internal communications and staff acquisition in front of L’Oréal Professionnel’s premier salon owners.

Beginning with an address from the brand’s General Manger, Olga Zanetti, the microphone was then handed to Simon Gillian, Talent Management and Acquisition Manager for L’Oréal Australia, who discussed the ‘why, what and who’ of gaining employees (why would someone want to work at your salon? What is your proposition for potential employees? Who do you want to attract?). He also outlined the means of actually gaining these employees (hint: social media can be an acquisition force) as well as the ideal five-step interview structure, and the current state of employment in the industry.

Andy Heasman on stage

Next, Marnie Carroll, Corporate and Internal Communications Manager for L’Oréal Australia, highlighted communication within your team, breaking down this process into an overarching strategy alongside daily tasks. She recommended Facebook and Whatsapp groups, internal newsletters and intranet portals, but stressed that nothing really beats face-to-face communication.

Jamie Furlan and Danielle Soiler on stage during Sweet Decadence

Moving on, L’Oréal Australia Customer Experience Director Emma Williamson detailed the online customer experience, showcasing some (often hilarious) social media fails by small businesses on forums or in response to reviews, but also presenting some businesses that handled social media a lot better. Her main takeaways: be honest, be human, be open and respond right away – we can all manage that, right?

The Artistic Team during Sweet Decadence

Lastly, Kellie Glenister, Business Development Manager for L’Oréal Professional Products, profiled the Australian beauty consumer, breaking down your average client in terms of age and demographic. She also delivered some surprising facts such as studies that have found your clients see having their hair done as a chore rather than a treat (as compared to, for example, a massage), and stats that say 97 per cent of hairdressers attest to giving a consultation, but only 7 per cent of clients say they’ve ever received one. Suffice to say, something needs to change.

Peter Thomsen on stage

This mammoth day of learning, watching and partying was followed up by an intimate (and by intimate, we mean there were a casual 80 attendees in the room) workshop, courtesy of the Rush boys, who taught a multitude of cut and colour techniques (checkerboard colour being a particular favourite of ours) to an enthralled audience. The duo pared down their theatrical looks from the previous evening, showcasing how they can be adapted for the salon.

After two days of Colour Jam, we grew to fully understand the name. This was an event that lived and breathed colour, lauded hair that pushed the boundaries and pushed education to cover every facet of the salon experience. We hope you didn’t miss out.

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