In an innovative panel session at America's Beauty Show March 13, four forward-thinking salon owners will be partnered with consumer beauty editors from Allure, T.C.W. (Today's Chicago Woman), Marie Claire and Self to define and explore a different client segmentation, during "Smart Thinking, Straight Talk: A Salon and Spa Owner Dialogue," hosted by ABS and P&G Salon Professional and powered by media partner SALON TODAY.

To get the owner participants warmed up for the panel, we invited them to participate in a special version of "Perspectives." This month, we asked each owner:

"As a leader, how do you help your team members stretch their creative muscles, and how do you translate the power of that creativity into new sales for your business?"

Perspectives: Playgrounds for CreativityGinger Boyle
Owner, Planet Salon
Beverly Hills, CA

"Truthfully, the clients who just want a trim or the same old cut are the ones who are your bread and butter. We are lucky when we get one or two clients a day who allow us to stretch and try something new. At our salon, we encourage our staff to share those out-of-the-box experiences by showing us the client's finished look. And, at the end of each day, we'll ask each staff member to share what was the best look they did that day.

"In the salon, we have education every Tuesday for everyone no matter how long they've done hair. We bring in a model and go over a technique. We really go back to basics and work on getting everyone's quality up. When you're focused on improving quality, you can enjoy a cut, even if it's a trim. We also encourage outside education, and I'll split costs 50/50 on classes we approve. People do have a tendency to get complacent, so you do have to kick them out and encourage them to seek education elsewhere. In addition, at the beginning of the year, any staff member who grew 15 percent over the last year gets to take a class of their choice at the Wella Studio.

We also help our staff members prepare and enter the photo competitions, such as Wella Trend Vision. Sometimes they are intimidated by the work it takes to create these looks, but it can be so important to developing creativity.

"For us, the most important venue for stretching the creative muscles, both personally and for my staff, is participating in L.A.'s Fashion Week. Twice a year, we'll take a team to work with the designers. Designers in L.A. are far more laid back than in New York, but even if we're doing simple chignons or ponytails, there's an art to doing it for the runway. When a staff member gets on one of these teams, I've found it amazing to see how their confidence grows. Then their ability to offer clients ‘more' also goes up. I've found that a lack of enthusiasm in the salon often stems from a lack of confidence.

L.A. Fashion Week is so important to our business that I've become a sponsor. Last time, we gave out coupons for a complimentary blow dry, this time I'm offering a coupon for 20 percent off. I track these and have found we get between 10-15 new clients from these each month, so participation is not only good for our stylists, it's good for business."

Perspectives: Playgrounds for CreativityMarcy Cona
Owner, M.C. Hair Consultants
Cuyahoga Falls, OH

"Creativity surrounds everything we do every day. It's continuous; it does not stop, or turn off and on. It must be the center of all our actions and vision for our companies. Whether we are setting goals or creating new services, we must start with what inspires each of us then translate that through our work, our leadership and our teams. If done right, it can be infectious.

"No one is exempt from being creative. It takes every role, every team member, to be part of creating a daily culture that infuses creativity in all our work. Expanding the creativity for our team requires each of us to view our work through a different lens, willing to identify individual and team weaknesses and understand the business opportunity while forming a collective outcome. Over the years, I had the opportunity to work with all types of creative people. Interestingly, the individuals who can translate their creative work to others visually, verbally, and emotionally with a sense of connectivity are the ones who really make a difference.

"In our salon, we start fostering creativity with quarterly staff gatherings for the entire team. This creates inspiration for the team- inspiration that is grounded in our goals and connected to our vision-for the next three months. Our focus is our company, our community and our craft. Each of these elements are revisited, with direction and guidance from our mentor team. From the quarterly gathering, we host weekly ‘in-session trainings' that strengthen our foundation and skills through role-playing, coaching and real-guest scenarios. Our new studio location hosts all of our gatherings, including an ever-changing inspiration board for our team and our guests. We believe that we need to share everything. During our trainings, we document everything through fl ip cameras, photographs, music and Facebook, so we can reapply it with team members and share it with our guest community in real time."

Perspectives: Playgrounds for CreativityJanine Jarman
Owner, Hairroin Salon
Hollywood, CA

"I'm a relatively newer salon owner who is closer to the age of many of my stylists. I believe it's a new age of stylists out there today, and that we are more creatively-driven than financially-driven. Since I opened, I've continued a practice I learned from my mentor Donna Federici-goal boards. Each year, I have each stylist select three goals that they'd like to complete within the year and then get really specific about what they need to accomplish each goal. Then we go through magazines and cut out images to create a visual representation of those goals. We share the inspiration boards with each other, then we take them home and hang them in our homes as a reminder of what we are working toward.

"In our back room, I've created a haven for creativity. I keep a library of inspirational books, and have a white board for planning, doll heads for creating, and a bulletin board where I post new ideas, runway collections, and upcoming classes. I also have a table set up with binders and clear sheets, and stylists are encouraged during down time to go through magazines, tear sheets and put together look books. In fact, they are encouraged to create look books for specific clients. How wonderful is it for a client to come in one day and her stylist says, ‘Mary I was thinking about your appointment today, and I pulled a few looks I think would be great on you?' It tells the client she's more to you than just a time-slot on the appointment book.

"Our education coordinator teaches for Sebastian and she's currently taking us all through the basics in what we call Fast Track Education. In addition, on the first Wednesday of every month, we have some sort of class. We do all sorts of things. For example, we have a wig class coming up, and in the past I've brought in an acting coach that helped us all work on eye contact. As a result, now we sit down and consult clients face-to-face instead of through the mirror.

Perspectives: Playgrounds for CreativityLarry Silvestri
Chief Operating Officer
Mario Tricoci Salons, headquartered
in Chicago, IL, with 19 locations

"Every Spring our creative team comes out with a collection which includes cuts, color, make-up and nail collections. The team goes to each of our locations and provides hands-on training on the collections.

"We tap creativity through innovation- through new products, techniques, and equipment. For example, our skin care team is working with apple stem cell research to infuse it into collagen; and our massage team is working with heated bamboo sticks to create a new massage.

"Our technicians are invited to participate in Trend Vision through Wella and photo competitions for Intercoiffure, and five of our nail techs will be competing at the nail photo competition at America's Beauty Show. None of this is formal, but the support is there is you want to reach in that direction. For example, one day a month, our style director and color director hold a jam session. Any staff member can bring a model to their class, and ask about a style or technique they want to learn. It's totally open and encourages exploration.

"Another creative venue is our "Mario Make Me a Model" competition, in which we host a model call for undiscovered talent in Chicago. We narrow 500 applicants to five finalists, who receive a complete makeover from our team, as well as fitness and runway training. The five walk with professional models under a tent at Millennium Park, and a general audience declares the next Mario model. Our staff does all the hair and makeup for all the models. Not only does it fulfill staff members' dream of working backstage, it's a great branding campaign.


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