Just as in many previous years, Serious Business 2021 delivered a diverse assortment of engaging, vibrant speakers organized around a thought-provoking theme, all designed to expose, evoke and evolve the thinking of salon owners, managers and professionals across the country. Yet this year, all that and more was delivered virtually.
Nearly 2,000 attendees tuned in as hosts Debra Neill Baker and Carol Augusto welcomed them to New Orleans with an assortment of locally famous backdrops and break sessions with performances from local jazz musicians.
Previous Serious Business themes of “Pivot” and “Reset” turned even more prophetic than the organizers had envisioned last year, as owners needed to master all kinds of new management skills in 2020. So this year, Debra Neill Baker proposed the simplified theme of “Re,” allowing attendees to design their own journey forward, with words such as rebirth, reimagine, reignite or renew.
Astrologer Aliessa Sipress helped chart the course of the two-day conference as she revealed what’s ahead this year according to the stars. Best-selling Author Dr. Josh Axe shared his concept of “food as medicine,” so listeners could face what’s next from a position of wellbeing and strength.
Moving Forward in 2021
As an encore speaker, Sett Mattison, founder and CEO of FutureSight Labs, helped leaders continue to move the needle on their 2021 goals with a joyful heart. Mattison believes by owning your emotions, deciding on your goals, mastering negative thoughts and pursuing community, salon owners and business pros can reactivate perseverance.
“What matters is ultimately you,” Mattison reminds us. “The magic wasn’t in the salon; the magic wasn’t in the chair. These tools that we use are nice to have, but the way you make your clients feel…that magic resides with you. Mobilize your magic!”
Changing Your Thought Process
Rocket scientist, law professor and bestselling author of Think Like a Rocket Scientist, Ozan Varol, told owners they should be shooting for the moon.
“We’ve been seduced into believing flying lower is better than flying higher,” he says. “And that coasting is better than soaring. Uncertainty is terrifying to most people because we have been taught (wrongly) there is one right answer to every question, one way to interpret history, one path to an ‘A.’
“But all progress takes place under uncertain conditions, Varol said. "You embrace it, deal with it and progress happens. Control what you can and ignore the rest.”
Focusing on the Consumer
Barbara DeLaere, Aveda global brand president, shared five consumer trends owners should tune into and tap for growth in the coming year, including leaning into all things digital.
“Online is where the guest learns about you,” DeLaere says. “Do you have a blog on your website? Are you using trending search terms? Are you continuously talking about safety protocols on social media? Are you reaching out to clients via direct message? Do you have online reviews?”
Looking Deep Within Yourself
In a true departure for Serious Business, the first day of the virtual event ended with a surprise, unannounced speaker. Russell Brand, who is an actor, comedian, author, activist and podcaster, shared how yoga, meditation and exercise helped him turn his life around after addiction.
After a brief period where Brand directly addressed the audience, Industry Icon Van Council joined the virtual stage and continued to interview Brand. Bonding over the sadness that lingers when a good friend takes their own life, the two discussed how to move forward.
“The things that will be eternal are what we have within ourselves. We must take sadness, suffering and loss, and use it as a spur to move closer to the infinite and the eternal,” Brand explained. “Together if we’re willing to treat each other kindly and with compassion, then there is a limitless power that we have access to that is available to all of us.”
On the second day of Serious Business, forward-thinking salon owners and beauty professionals took the virtual stage.
With an Eye Toward Growth
Owner of WHOLE Aveda Salon Spas and Salon Consulting, Tim Belcher, moderated a panel of owners including Naomi Dove, Salon Director of The Blue Daisy; Scot Robinson and Shawn McGhee, co-owners of Pavo Salon Spa; and Garrison Neill, executive director of the Paris Parker Salon Group.
In a challenging year, these owners shared their strategies for growing transactions in the salon to meet growth goals.
“We’re re-evaluating everything we’re doing,” Neill says. “We’re looking at what we can tweak to get a better result or more transactions in every single system we have. We’re also looking at who has been a guest in the past and exploring ways we can reactivate them. We’ve changed our script in our call center to ask open-ended questions, which has produced great results.”
Aveda Global Director for texture, Renée Gadar shared statistics on the growing demographic of people with textured hair and how stylists can meet their beauty needs.
“If you don’t have a multi-cultural strategy, you don’t have a growth strategy,” she says. “You are giving yourself an expiration date if you don’t start engaging now. If your demographic changes and you have to chase it, you won’t be as authentic. You don’t want to be late to this party.”
Andi Eaton, founder of @ouiwegirl and Tatum Neill, North American artistic director of social media for Aveda, and founder of Elevate Hair and ElevateTV, shared why owners must have a social media presence now more than ever.
“Never before in the history of time and marketing have you been able to tell your story to your audience as clearly as you can today,” Neill says. “You can have a positive impact on your business with just 500-1,000 local followers who can walk into your salon.”
Making a Masterpiece
Industry Legend Eric Fisher, who owns four salons, a beauty academy and a business education company, offered advice for achieving both personal and business growth. He shared tips for balancing initiative as an owner, building strategies from your core values, enhancing potential through education, and making a positive contribution with your career.
“As a services provider, you’re an entrepreneur in charge of your destiny,” Fisher says. “You’re responsible for building your reputation and business. Success is repeating daily habits that work. You must have a healthy ego and a desire – a real desire – to want to be successful.”
Leading a Team in the New Reality
SALON TODAY’s Stacey Soble led a discussion on leadership in the salon during and post pandemic, with an eye on growth. Participants included: Keri Davis-Duffy, president and co-owner of Gila Rut Salons; Brandon Hensley, co-owner of Tangerine Salon Group; Heath Smith, co-owner and director of operations of Ruiz Salons; and William Edge, stylist, platform artist, and salon and school owner.
“The salon business is a people business,” Hensley says. “You have to make an impact on employees and clients. Did you believe in and develop your people? Do they know you care about them? I want them to make a great living, buy homes, and achieve their goals. How am I, as an owner, helping humanity?”
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