Fueled by creativity and passion, Lisa Vann has been one of the leading stylists and salon/spa owners in the greater Seattle area since 1986. Owner of Vann Studio Salon Spa, she has educated salon professionals worldwide on hair cutting, coloring and texture services, as well as wellness. Her passion for beauty and wellness has inspired many in the beauty and spa industry to break down barriers and approach hair more holistically.
A former Global Master for Aveda, Vann currently works as an Educator and Texture Specialist for Eufora International, infusing wellness into every service.
As a business owner and professional, Vann feels it is essential to be a responsible member of both the local and the global community. In her more than thirty years in Seattle, Vann has partnered with many organizations providing support through financial contributions as well as donated beauty and spa services. Recent partners have included Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Fashion for Conservation, Runway to Freedom, Peer Seattle, Converge Media and The Bridge Care Center.
Vann’s work has been included in many prestigious publications, including Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Essence, Marie Claire, 303, Seattle Magazine and Northwest Style. She’s received recognition from almost every trade publication in the United States and Canada, has been nominated for several American and Canadian hairdresser awards over the past 20 years and has won the 2018 Hair N Motion Avant Garde Hairstylist of the Year, the 2019 Midwest Hairstyling Awards Lifetime Achievement Award, several Aveda Care Awards and the 2009 Green Beauty Award from Modern Salon for outstanding leadership in 2012.
In this exclusive interview, SALON TODAY set forth to gather more insight from Vann as an owner and an industry leader:
SALON TODAY: From where does your entrepreneurial drive originate?
Vann: “My mentor was Horst Rechelbacher. He instilled passion, inspiration, drive and creativity. With my years at Aveda, it was only natural to want more and to be better. I continue to push myself daily and not give up on any challenges that are presented to me.”
ST: What is your strongest leadership quality, and how has it helped you grow your business?
Vann: “Change. I am always open and willing to make huge changes to better myself, my team and my industry. Without making the changes over the last three decades, I would not be where we are today.”
ST: How would you describe your management style? What do you think makes you a good leader, and in what areas would you like to improve?
Vann: “I speak in the moment. I do not wait. I say it as it is. I think it works for me and against me. I wish I had a bit more patience to process the situation before I voice my opinion about 40 percent of the time.”
ST: Throughout your professional career, what’s the best lesson you’ve learned after making a mistake?
Vann: “Trust your gut. If it didn’t feel right, do not continue to make it something that’s it’s not. Saying no is not a bad thing.”
ST: As you grew your beauty business, what “Ah-Ha” moments of clarity helped you shape its future course?
Vann: “Look to the next generation for help. Adding a leadership team of all ages in your industry can help lead your business to success. This allows you to have the insight of all.”
ST: From whom or what do you draw your strength, courage, vision?
Vann: “I have a huge support system within our industry. As a network, I find I reach out to other salon owners that continue to help give incredible advice and support that allows me to continue to love what I do every day.”
ST: As you’ve built your career, who has been your biggest mentor and what have they taught you?
Vann: “I have had several mentors through my career. Horst Rechelbacher and taught me drive and passion. Antoinette Beenders instilled attention to detail, preparation and the creative process. Charlie Price showed me how to step out of the box, push the envelope and take risks. And from Vidal Sassoon, I learned precision.”
ST: How do you set goals for yourself?
Vann: “I reach for the stars when it comes to goals. I tell as many people as I can. So then, I am held accountable to follow through. No excuses.”
ST: In your opinion, what is the single biggest threat that beauty businesses like yours face?
Vann: “Losing one’s business—failing. I don’t think that’s something I have overcome just yet. But I have found that by involving other people in my business, it helps me stay on track. I get honest feedback on what is working and what needs to be improved on.”
ST: In your opinion, what’s the biggest opportunity for beauty businesses like yours over the next five years?
Vann: “I think taking on an apprenticeship program within my salon has been an incredible asset to my business and our industry. This allows us to train our stylists first-hand and get them behind the chair producing revenue and growing our team to fit our culture. I wasn’t getting the quality of stylists from any of our schools. We as a salon would need to spend a year to train our new hires out of school. By starting an apprenticeship program, we can start right away.
ST: If you weren’t in the beauty business, what would you be doing now?
Vann: “I have been fascinated with saving the seals from fishing nets. I think I would be working as a environmentalist.”
ST: What’s the best thing an employee/colleague ever said about you?
Vann: “You inspired me, and your class changed my career. Thank you.”
ST: If you were training someone to take over your job, what is the most important advice you could offer them?
Vann: “Be present. Show up, and listen to what is being said.”
ST: If you were to look at a scrapbook of your professional career, what would be your favorite page? Which page would you like to remove?
Vann: “My favorite page would be all the creative work that I have done. I would remove the parts where I brought in partners not realizing I had the strength to do it alone.”
ST: How would you like to spend your retirement?
Vann: “I don’t see myself retiring anytime soon.”
ST: Describe your company’s culture, and as it’s leader, what do you do to drive that?
Vann: “Our culture at Vann Studio is guest experience, education and community outreach We follow this daily and continue to be better. Seeing change drives us to be better and to work harder.”
ST: What business project are you working on now?
Vann: “Myself, Ruth Roche and Jill Leitz are creating a magazine (coffee table book) called Legends to honor women in our industry over 50 with collections and stories. We are also starting a series of education together.”
ST: How do you like to spend your time away from your business?
Vann: “With my husband and daughters. I love the time I spend with my family. I try the best I can to keep my personal life separate from my business.
ST: What do you hope is your legacy?
Vann: “I hope that I am known fro incredible drive and creative passion that set a high standard on how to run a successful business and build a creative career in an industry I love.”
ST: Why did you join Intercoiffure America Canada?
Vann: “It was time to start giving back to an industry that I love. I see this as the next decade in my career to move forward, and to move our industry forward. I need to be part of that.”
ST: What has been the biggest benefit you have received from your ICA membership?
Vann: “Networking. I have enjoyed the amazing connection to the outstanding business owners and their willingness to share information.”
Learn more about Intercoiffure America Canada.
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