Over her 35+ years in the professional beauty space, Virginia Meyer has worn multiple leadership hats. She’s worked in distribution, in multi-location salon management and corporately as the vice president of education for Aveda. Today, she co-owns Fourteenjay in New York City with David Adams, and she is part of the Aveda Business Academy and Consulting Group lending leadership development and operations support to salons seeking their next level of development.
While SALON TODAY has worked with Meyer on multiple stories over the years, we cherished this time quietly sit down and explore her leadership prowess:
SALON TODAY: From where does your entrepreneurial drive originate?
Virginia Meyer: “I think it's innate. I love getting my ‘hands in the clay!’”
ST: What is your strongest leadership quality, and how has it helped you grow your business?
Meyer: “Well, I think I am a work in progress just like everyone else. I do think I have a gift in building a link between future vision and current reality, along with team development.”
ST: How would you describe your management style?
Meyer: “I am sure hands on. Again, I am not sure if I am a good leader (you would have to ask the people that I lead). I am practicing every day. I know that I am very intentional about connecting with people wherever they are on their journey and working with them to support them in getting to their next level.”
ST: Throughout your professional career, what’s the best lesson you’ve learned after making a mistake?
Meyer: “Own it and move on. It's not a failure. It's a growth opportunity. Each of us has the ability to choose how we view a mistake. For me, mistakes are great chances to focus in on the things I want to create more of.”
ST: As you grew your beauty business, what “Ah-Ha” moments of clarity helped you shape its future course?
Meyer: “My mentors have helped me understand that looking externally, without focusing inwardly is counter-productive. If I want to do anything—I first have to start with myself. My values, vision and inspiration are the foundation for creating great things and great results.”
ST: From whom or what do you draw your strength, courage, vision?
Meyer: “God, mentors, friends, family, nature.”
ST: As you’ve built your career, who has been your biggest mentor and what have they taught you?
Meyer: It's hard to name just one. I have many astounding mentors in my life. Pick one? Horst. He taught me that you are the other side of me. When I am serving you, I am serving me.”
ST: How do you set goals for yourself?
Meyer: “I love to assess where I am now, imagine where I would like to be and envision the path to get there. I get very granular. If I want to grow the business by x%, working from the bottom up, what do we need to do to get there. I set goals that are stretchy and make course corrections along the path.”
ST: In your opinion, what is the single biggest threat that beauty businesses like yours face? How do you believe you and your peers can overcome it?
Meyer: “Finding new team members, values alignment and having technical team members understand that developing a craft is a lifetime learning journey. Working in a world that wants ‘instant everything’ when ‘instant everything’ is over-loading us, is a constant opportunity and one I re-frame all of the time for our team. I also think that the rising costs of doing business are not keeping pace with service pricing. We have to get very focused and very lean to thrive moving forward.”
ST: In your opinion, what’s the biggest opportunity for beauty businesses like yours over the next five years?
Meyer: “Seamlessly integrating technology into an expanded guest experience. Understanding that the service experience for the guest is not just what happens in the salon. It's what happens before, during and after the service. We need to look differently at how technology can drive an expanded service experience for the guest.”
ST: If you weren’t in the beauty business, what would you be doing now?
Meyer: “Small business leadership development. Same thing as now, for an expanded circle of small businesses.”
ST: If you were training someone to take over your job, what is the most important advice you could offer them?
Meyer: Learn the business. Understand that all decision-making requires the balance of feeling and fact.
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?
Meyer: “By far my favorite page was working collaboratively with so many others to create Aveda's points of difference in salon service delivery. I could have skipped the chapter where I worked in retail to make ends meet.”
ST: How would you like to spend your retirement?
Meyer: On a lake in the North Woods, or in the mountains with my dear ones.
ST: Describe your target client/customer. Describe your ideal team member.
Meyer: “Our target guest is female 35+ committed to maintaining her image and hair health, visiting the salon 6-8 times per year. Our ideal team member is an NTP; - nice, talented person.”
ST: Whom do you lean on for advice, support and wisdom?
Meyer: “My coaches, mentors and friends. Mostly God.”
ST: Describe your company’s culture, and as its leader, what do you do to drive that culture?
Meyer: “I am giggling. How do you answer that succinctly? We have 4 cultural pillars; Creativity, Care, Customization and Consultation. We revisit those 4 things ALL of the time; daily huddles, one-to-one coaching, team meetings, education, every day, all of the time - and, in our operational structure.”
ST: What makes your beauty business unique?
Meyer: “The people and our culture.”
ST: What business project are you working on now? What’s your next professional step?
Meyer: “Great question! For me, my next step is likely the expansion of our consulting business.”
ST: If someone were to write a book about your life, what would be an appropriate title, and why?
Meyer: The shortest distance between two points is rarely a straight line. Why? That has been my experience.
ST: How do you like to spend your time away from your business?
Meyer: “In nature—walking, hiking, kayaking and skiing.”
ST: Tell us something about yourself that would surprise most of the people you know in the professional beauty industry.
Meyer: “I am scared most of the time.”
ST: What do you hope is your legacy?
Meyer: “Personally, that people who knew me felt loved and inspired by me. In the salon, that we maintained the highest level of commitment to guest care and technical excellence.”
ST: Why did you want to join Intercoiffure?
Meyer: To be around like-minded people. To share ideas, be challenged and to grow.
ST: What has been the biggest benefit you have received from your ICA membership.
Meyer: “I joined, then COVID hit, so I am just finding my Inter-coiffure "voice" and the benefits of membership."
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