Powerful, ambitious hairdressers, salon owners, brand representatives and business people congregated at the Ovolo, Woolloomooloo on August 5 for the inaugural Real Talk business education event, witnessing a significant line up of speakers as they spoke to every important facet of the industry and salon management. In a day that covered networking and high-powered learning, Real Talk worked with some of the biggest names in the industry to invigorate its audience and truly create conversations that matter.

The day was opened by INSTYLE editor Cameron Pine, who spoke of the anticipation in the air with the big names on show in a day dedicated to a mentality of learning, growing and sharing in the name of community excellence. MC and retail expert Terry Hawkins then officially opened the proceedings, getting the audience up and out of their chairs to interact. She discussed important concepts of outlook, empathy and sincerity, before making everyone introduce themselves in a non-talkative way to truly connect.

Terry Hawkins

Dario Cotroneo of DCI Education was the next speaker on show as he delivered must-have intel on the art of the consultation. He spoke of the necessity to truly understand your client and practice deep listening to achieve that. “Deep listening will change your life,” he said. “We want to be heard so much, but everyone who comes into our life is a teacher, my clients are my mentors.” He warned attendees to keep both their emotions and ego in check and make the choice to change your life to act in this way.

Next was the first of two round tables, compered by Cameron and inviting industry leaders onto the stage to share their experiences. Award winning salon owners and hairdressers took to the panel, which consisted of Circles salon owner Sharlene Lee, iconic Bixie Colour salon owner Sheree Knobel, Kings Domain’s Angela Sassano and internationally renowned hairdresser and business women Wendy Gunn of Ink for Hair. The panel discussed everything from team culture, to social media and life and business plans that are inspired by passion, risk taking and embracing change.

Two leaders from the famous Edwards and Co team, General Manager Bridgette Birchall and Communications Manager Bianca Boulden, then spoke about industry disruption, from their experience within the Edwards and Co juggernaut. They explained the initial freelance model that set the salon brand apart, and spoke of the importance of finding a different point of view. They attested the importance of culture as built by facets such as social media and education in building their salon empire.

Terry Hawkins with Bianca Boulden and Bridgette Birchall

Social media was the next supreme focus, as Social Media Knowledge’s James Fitzgerald showed his expertise in this field, offering attendees insights on each channel’s algorithms, engagement and processes to improve their reach. He urged salons to build up their customer data to sync it to their social media lists, and take advantage of pixels that can actively target returning clients for up to six months after their visit.

James Fitzgerald

Next Lee Cohen, Oscar Oscar Business Development Manager, educated on how this famous salon brand facilitates luxury, advocating the importance of front line staff members, leadership qualities, the importance of consultations and separating business and creative roles in the salon in building this environment. He suggested asking clients to spell out their limitless hair dreams, and then scaling it back to something they could afford in terms of money and time that still offers extreme value to your salon.

The power duo of Valonz’s Renya Xydis and Que Colour’s Monique McMahon then showed off a brief glimpse of their ‘For The Love’ education, which offers a true sharing culture and community so salon owners need not feel alone. They discussed the importance of culture as it pertains to sound, smell, touch and texture in the salon, and offered the key advice that your team truly makes your brand and must be invested in.

Monique McMahon and Renya Xydis with Terry Hawkins

A technology panel, compered by INSTYLE’s Jo Cowan, brought more stars to the stage. Stevie Corthine of Stevie English, Stevie Vincent of Stevie Vincent Hair Studios, Glenn Tucker and Kristy Hines of Element Aveda Sydney and Brodie-Lee Tsiknaris of Rokstar Hair discussed the importance of software, with consultations, bookings and the many other ways it has improved the salon world. They talked about the importance of asking for help with challenging technological aspects, and how this salon sector is continuously evolving, offering more opportunities for clients to find the salon, buy from it and interact with it. Personally, finding the time and software that allows you to step away from your business for work life balance is also paramount.

Technology panel

Prema’s Francesco Ruggerino closed the day as he educated on entrepreneurship, telling the audience that he visualises his end goals in his endeavours, which has allowed him international success. He spoke about moving to high consciousness, opining that we live in auto-pilot much of the time and need to connect to our sense for true long term success. He relates all business conversations back to company values, emboldening a tram mentality, while also attesting the power of delegation and ego management.

Franceso Ruggerino with Terry Hawkins

The day provided networking opportunities at lunch and drinks and canapés after the speakers, fostering a true community mindset that invigorated attendees within a true culture of sharing and growing. The event, presented by INSTYLE, was sponsored by major brands such as Redken, Phorest Salon Software, Revlon Professional, Showpony Hair Extensions, Shortcuts Salon Software, De Lorenzo Haircare, Consult by Timely Appointment Booking Software and Matrix Professional.

By the industry, for the industry and with the industry, Real Talk spoke to the important power we all hold as hairdressers and salon owners in truly pushing ourselves, our team and our community. Constant learning, dedication and higher thought makes this industry truly one of the best in the world – and that’s worth talking about.