Take a moment and ask yourself, "What drives me? What gets me fired up? What inspires me?" One of the keys to being a successful business leader is your ability to identify the source of your passion and use it to fuel your future endeavors. Inspiration feeds the creativity that creates the necessary momentum for personal, professional and business development. Inspiration can appear from a variety of different and unexpected sources.

I just finished reading Barry Barnes's book titled Everything I Know About Business I Learned from the Grateful Dead. I happen to posses a good library of books on business, execution and motivation. Who would have thought that this book could be an inspirational tool for those outside the music industry.  If you posses an interest in building and expanding your brand, then please do not limit yourself to where inspiration can be cultivated. This book happens to be inspiring in so many ways, from how it simply communicates with the reader and educates us on the business culture of the band. The book demonstrates the savvy business talents the band has had in their approach in promoting, expanding and creating loyalty to their brand, as well as establishing a long standing success and loyalty with their fans, a compliment to their creative music spirit. In our industry, we refer to our fans as clients and customers.

You definitely shouldn’t feel limited to the beauty industry for inspiration. I’m usually most influenced by events outside our trade, such as how other businesses are expanding their brands. I find it fascinating when a business takes something tired, makes a few small changes, and creates renewed interest in a forgotten product. It’s inspirational and exciting to see that age-old concept suddenly become new again with just the slightest of modifications. You don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel every time to be an innovative leader; small changes can have a powerful impact on the mind of your team and the consumer.

Keep up-to-date on developments and advances in the arts, sciences and technology, and make a point to stay informed about situations and practices not covered by the mainstream media. Street fashion, interior design, local musicians and artists, can be as much a source of inspiration as the latest collection from a major fashion house or a new product line from a beauty empire. Even people in seemingly unrelated fields can offer valuable lessons: I have always thought athletes, for instance, as exemplary models in their attitude towards perseverance, dedication and their steadfast focus to raising their personal best bar. As well as their ability to recover from losses, injury and maintain disciplined training regimes. Whether it is by reading the most recent issue of Vogue or taking time to notice fresh graffiti on the city streets, you never know where or when inspiration will strike!

One the most important things to remember when seeking inspiration is to trust your gut. In this age of mass information, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by choices. Use what you like and you think has staying power, discard the rest. Remind yourself to always keep your ultimate vision for your business and team in mind, when choosing a point of inspiration for your next journey.

My points of inspiration, which keeps me motivated and energized, often comes from the needs my team require at any particular stage: the stylists, managers, and apprentices that make up Akari. My teams always goes above and beyond their job descriptions, working tirelessly each day to give our customers an experience that exceeds expectations. They function as a unit, willing to conqueror uncharted frontiers. It is their cooperative spirit, tenacity, loyalty, that inspires me to work ever harder on their behalf.

To summarize: In this age of mass information, simplicity at it's best, in the delivery of an exceptional experience, in any medium, is in the end the pinnacle of inspiration.


Movies and Documentaries  


  • The September Issue, a film which demonstrates how dedication, creativity, and deadlines are all inter-related in the fashion publication industry.
  • Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston, a documentary about how Halston pioneered American fashion abroad.
  • Unzipped, the cult film that documents Isaac Mizrahi’s evolution as a fashion icon.
  • And, black and white movies from the 40s and early 50s.

Recommended Reading

  • Everything I Know About Business I Learned from The Grateful Dead, by Barry Barnes Phd, takes us on a nostalgic trip, providing us 10 very valuable lessons on strategic improvisation, a fun, and easy read
  • Grow, by Anthony Whitaker, written by a former Vidal Sassoon stylist that truthfully depicts some challenging industry scenarios, whilst prescribing some good business solutions
  • Good to Great, by Jim Collins, a book that demystifies why some companies make the leap and others don’t.
  • Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, by Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan, a book with a focus on how to accomplish goals in a timely manner.

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