A chance meeting at an industry event leads the management of two salons to temporarily trade places to share strengths with one another.

International Exchange: Salon Swap
A meeting of the minds: from left, Gayle Fulbright, owner
of Headlines for Hair in Encinitas, CA, Kera Spencer,
stylist and manager at Michael’ Hair, Mind Body in
Mississauga, Ontario; Sue Morra, colorist and manager of
Michael’s; Christina Krapf, salon manager of Headlines;
and Lina Morra Lomangino, owner of Michael’s.

After reading Yin Yang Leadership,
SALON TODAY’s October 2009
cover story about the power of combining
creative and analytical thinking in
management, Gayle Fulbright, owner of
Headlines for Hair in Encinitas, California,
reflected on her own style. “It spoke to me,”
she says. “Being very analytical, I’d been
throwing numbers at my staff for so long,
I knew if I didn’t throw in some creative
exercise I’d have a rebellion on my hands.”

After perfecting a retail system that
yields $35,000 in monthly sales with a
single line in 1,700 square feet, Fulbright
has emerged as a frequent lecturer on retail
strategies. But the thought of weaving
some creative management into her
approach weighed on her mind as she
traveled to Eufora’s Global Connection
in November of that year.

At the conference, Fulbright met Lina
Morra Lomangino, the owner of Michael’s
Hair, Body and Mind in Mississauga,
Ontario. Lomangino’s salon has a longstanding
and growing record of creative
wins. In addition to dominating Eufora’s
Sylist of the Year Award for four consecutive
years, they’ve won Mirror and Contessa
awards and have been named as finalists in
the North American Hairstyling Awards.
Over the long weekend, two owners
slowly hatched a plan for an international
salon exchange.

“Despite the fact that we have very
different strengths, Gayle and I think very
similarly,” says Lomangino. “I always like
to share business ideas with other owners,
but to do so during a 10-minute conversation
is challenging. The idea of swapping
salons was brilliant.”

In October 2010, the two salons embarked
on an the exchange that would take
the business savvy members of Headlines
north to Canada and the creative minds of
Michael’s south to sunny San Diego.

International Exchange: Salon Swap
While working on clients at Michael’s Hair
Mind Body in Mississauga, Ontario, stylists are
more mindful of their retail goals.

All Eyes on Retail

In October 2010, Fulbright and her salon manager
Christina Krapf traveled to Michael’s in
Mississauga. After observing in the salon, they
conducted one-on-ones with each staff member
while the salon’s management observed
the meetings. Fulbright and Krapf carefully
explained the different metrics, so each staff
member could read and interpret their own
numbers and they set individual goals for each
service provider.

One of the goals of the meetings was to
create an open dialogue between management
and staff, to learn what staff members liked or
disliked about the business, and to gather any
ideas they could contribute.

Next, Fulbright and Krapf walked the
Michael’s team through their eight strategies
of successful retailing. Since both salons retail
Eufora, they shared the same language. “I went
in and spoke to them from a stylist’s point of
view, and took ‘selling’ out of the equation,”
says Fulbright. “We taught them the difference
between selling and educating.”

For Fulbright, the proof is in the numbers.
In August 2010, the average retail sales per client
were $11.25. After the training, the average
sales per client bumped up to $16.35. “My
goal is to eventually get them over $20,” says
Fulbright. “That’s where my own salon is at,
but it takes time and a lot of constant attention.”

International Exchange: Salon Swap
Stylists from Headlines observe as Lina
Morra Lomangino, owner of Michael’s, preps a
model for the photo shoot.

Turnabout Time

Later in the year, Lomangino, Kera Spencer,
a stylist and manager at Michael’s, and Sue
Morra, a colorist and manager at Michael’s,
traveled to Headlines in Encinitas, to teach
Fulbright’s team how to conduct a professional
photo shoot.

The Michael’s team illustrated how to find
a concept for a photo shoot, how and when to
prepare, and how to choose the right models.
“We brainstormed ideas, talked about how
to find a proper photographer and make-up
artist,” says Lomangino. “And we spent the
week working on cutting techniques and color

At the end of the week, the Michael’s
managers and the Headlines team traveled to
Hollywood, where they pulled off Headlines’
first professional photo shoot. “We had an
amazing photographer and the team was so
enthusiastic, they did a great job for their first
shoot,” says Lomangino. “They learned so
much from this first shoot that they can apply
to the next experience and continue to grow.”
The experience left the Headlines team with
a new brand, and many of the team members
reported that the creatively stretching experience
was life-changing.

Fringe Benefits

While Lomangino and Fulbright had singular
goals in mind when they brought together their
teams, the learning experience permeated everything.
To save costs, the owners stayed at each
others’ homes during the swap, and at night
over a glass of wine they’d share management
issues, ideas and solutions. “I loved being in
her salon, I felt like I was in mine. Our personalities
are so similar,” laughs Lomangino.

“Even at her home, when I opened her fridge,
it was like looking in mine”

In the salons, team members would work
side-by-side, learning from each other. “It allowed
us to pick up on small things, such as
a different way to place foils,” says Fulbright.
“There was an excitement and an energy in the
salon you could feel.”

Since the original exchange, Fulbright has
closely tracked Michael’s retail progress, and
the Michael’s team already has fl own south for
a subsequent visit. “We’ve developed a sister-salon
relationship with them. It’s awesome to
work with a team who has very similar philosophies
but different talents,” says Spencer,
who was instrumental in planning the exchange.

“Having so much physical distance between us
takes the pressure off because we’re not competitors.
We’re salon friends. The most valuable
thing they taught us is it’s about your team and
not about you—if you build up a good team
you can be far more successful than you can
be by yourself.”