By AHP Staff
I walked into a quiet, stark white, spacious room with enough empty plastic seating for close to 100 attendees. Having just stepped off the International Beauty Show floor with all its bright lights, loud music, colorful booths, and bustling commotion, entering this dull classroom was a shock to the system. Little did I know, the true shock to the system had yet to happen.
I thought I was attending an “All About Business” class where, as the show program promised, I would, “Join Ryan Teal as he shares how you can find your personal success for your salon. Ryan will share his philosophy and give tips on how to be a successful salon owner in today’s business climate.” Silly me, I assumed I would be told to keep my books neat, reward my staff, do some marketing, blah, blah, blah. Honestly, I didn’t expect to learn anything I hadn’t heard before, but I was just excited to hear from Ryan Teal (@ryan_teal).
It was in this hollow room designated for business education that I first witnessed the truly beautiful movement that is beginning to ripple through our industry. We always hear the chatter about “raising the bar” and “elevating our industry.” Well, this movement is causing exactly that. If the movement hasn’t yet hit your town, start it today.
What is the movement I witnessed in this unglamorous trade show classroom? It is hairstylists breaking down salon walls, putting their egos aside, ditching the competition mentality, and bonding together for the common good of the hair industry.
During the class, Teal presented some fun advice—mostly motivational, infused with trademark Ryan Rants. However, the energy palpably intensified when he spoke about how the Teals have fostered a community of salons that get together for education, networking, support, and inspiration in their hometown, Portland, Oregon. Yes. Read that again if you need to. These salons have stopped seeing each other as competition and are getting their hairdressers together to learn from one another.
Philip Ring (@phildoeshair) was in the audience and shared how he’s taken the idea of salons breaking down their walls and getting together for informal education at his home in Phoenix, Arizona. A similar phenomenon is taking off with Jeff South’s Club Intrigue events, which went national in 2016. Teal also described how, clear across the country in Florida at the Premiere Orlando trade show, an underground group of industry leaders rented an Airbnb for an education-sharing session after trade show hours. Beautiful. These are the types of things that will make our industry stronger.
A few class attendees shared other beautiful connections happening within the hairdressing communities in their towns—salons sharing supplies, cross-referrals happening, education being shared. Some hair celebrities popped into the classroom to show their support (DJ Muldoon and Ira Pope among them) and I swear the air was buzzing. The energy was contagious. Suddenly, the classroom wasn’t so big and disconnected. When class time ran out, no one wanted to leave. We all wrote our Instagram handles on a flip chart and took pictures with promises to follow each other and stay in touch.
This is the movement—a movement toward true community among hair professionals. As long as people keep growing hair (and even if they don’t), there are enough clients to go around for everyone. Why not share our skills and experience with each other so our entire industry can raise the bar? Our industry is only as advanced as our weakest link.
The newest hotshot to hit Instagram is not someone to be jealous of; they’re someone to thank for the inspiration they contribute to our industry. When your salon manager hires a clueless, recent graduate, it’s not the time to look down your nose. We’ve all been there. Step up to the plate and be a mentor. When a client calls for an appointment but none are available, refer them to another salon. That’s keeping business in our industry and saving the client from a DIY disaster that benefits no one. When our peer wins a NAHA, we should all celebrate the heck out of that incredible work that encourages us all to step up our game.
The number-one takeaway: hairstylists are in competition with unlicensed do-it-yourselfers, not one another. The hairstylist at the station beside you, the one renting the suite down the hall, and even the professionals working at the salon around the corner—these are your comrades. These are your allies and support system. The hair industry is experiencing a movement, independent of manufacturers, paid events, or fancy marketing telling us what to do. We are moving back to a hair community. The movement is beautiful. Climb aboard—this is how we raise the bar.