Archive for April 2022

Chatting with Claudette Lewington of Meiko, winner of Best Salon Design

What made you decide to redesign your salon?

“Due to a Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, we spent several weeks away from the salon. Coming back to our space where we would normally spend hours each day, I saw it in a different light. I saw our salon with fresh eyes.

“Nova was looking tired and needed a makeover. We initially had plans to start a new salon build on our commercial site. But with the uncertainty of a pandemic this was put on hold.

“Fresh paint and new mirrors was what it was going to be for Nova. Just a freshen up. That definitely changed and once we got started it became so much more than that.

“The original layout was very cluttered and stations were very close to each other. The salon didn’t flow very well. However, when you’re in a space every day you don’t know any different.

“The redesign was to reignite our excitement and give us something to look forward to post lockdown. We were grateful to be back at work again but I wanted to make the space more inviting, somewhere clients and staff could come to and feel a sense of escape. I also wanted to lift the team’s spirits and motivate them, making them feel proud of the space they were in each day.

“The redesign really needed to align with what we did for clients. I had a vision that visiting Nova should be about the experience as well as the space.”

Meiko Salon; before and after

What was the inspiration behind the design?

“I wanted everything to be softer and more flowing. In its former state Nova was very hard, with a lot of black and white and a lot of strong lines. The space felt closed in and messy. I wanted to open it up and give the illusion of more room even though we were in the same space.

“I was inspired by the idea of curved edges — hair is all soft curves and flow, why would a hair salon be so linear and hard? I’d seen some great examples of curved, soft edges and wanted to bring that into our space, and get away from the dominating black to make everything lighter and brighter.

“I wanted soft, tranquil, bright and modern. It needed to be simple but elegant, and not too feminine. With many male clients, I wanted to be sure it was a space they would enjoy too.

“After spending hours on Pinterest collecting images of spaces I liked, I realised the project was slowly growing into more than what I had Initially planned. A lick of fresh paint and new mirrors were not going to deliver our vision, we were inspired to go further. We engaged Spaceworks Interior Architecture to guide us on this journey and help us put together a plan that would work.

“We wanted a clean, fresh and functional space that flowed well. With Spaceworks based in Auckland, there were lots of emails, Zoom meetings and phone calls back and forth. We took lots of measurements at our end, and plans were tweaked at their end to give more space to work with. With professional help behind us, the inspiration was finally starting to come alive on paper.”

Meiko Salon; before and after

What was the vision for your salon?

“After owning the salon for 10 years, I had the knowledge and confidence to create a new space — and the vision came to me quickly. We needed better functionality, more space without making things uncomfortably sparse, and we needed to add storage. Our space wasn’t huge but I knew it could be utilised better.

“We were very cluttered, stylists were back to back and the furniture was very chunky. Our high ceilings add a great sense of volume to the space, but they also made the space feel overwhelming. To make the space feel more intimate, we split the walls with a two-toned paint effect to visually cut the ceiling off at a much lower height.

“Softness led our design choices for furniture and tone. We chose warm, soft and subtle colours. We opted for mirrors with curves and custom LED lighting placed in behind. We framed the mirrors with dado boards to give definition and placement, and to add a soft texture to the walls.

“As the changes took place and the excitement grew, I knew the time was right for another part of my vision: rebranding Nova, finding a new name and visual identity that better reflected who we were and what we wanted to be. This was something that had been discussed in the past but the timing hadn’t been right. We were ready to become Meiko.

“Many elements went into devising a new name. I’d always wanted to have ‘Co’ in the name (spelled Ko), to support our vision as a collaborative salon, built on the co-operation between us as a team and between us and the client. I wanted two syllables and five letters, because it felt balanced and simple. I didn’t want my name attached to the brand (Claudette) but I did want a part of ME there.

“After playing around with letters I thought of Me, Meiko was to be our new name, but was it an existing word? A Google search showed some possible meanings, including ‘strength’ and ‘beautiful flower’, which aligned with my vision of who we could be as a salon brand.

“It also felt like a name that could grow our clientele and bring in a younger generation. So Meiko it was. We took the name to brand design agency Design Dairy to begin the next phase and develop our logo and visual branding.”

How did you achieve your vision?

“This is a great question. We had it all on paper, we knew what we wanted to achieve but how was it going to happen? With tradesmen under hot demand, it was quite a wait to get people aligned to achieve our vision.

“We took the plunge. My husband, who works full time in his own job as a commercial printer, was about to become a builder, a plumber, and everything in between. The challenge was about to really begin.

“We didn’t have a blank canvas to work with, this was a refit of an existing salon that had clients booked for the next 10 months.

“Being unable to close the doors—and needing more than a long weekend to complete the refit—Sundays became our day to work on the salon. We had to tag team as parents, and clean up at the end of each Sunday, ready for Monday morning. We built false walls to hold the new mirrors. Power was to be run behind them for the custom LED lighting, and so much more. We gained time with long weekends, and lost time with shipping delays. This was a hard stressful time.

“With each week we would see the progress of our salon coming together as a new space. Clients were on the journey too, loving each change as it happened. They saw something new and different with each appointment.

“All up, it took nearly 12 months to achieve our vision, and we love the end result.”

Meiko Salon

What results, benefits, or other outcomes have you experienced because of your new or refurbished design?

“The benefits from our changes have been huge. Clients have enjoyed being involved in the journey and seeing it come to life. They have given us feedback along the way about how it feels fresh, bright and loved.

“We have noticed a significant uptake of new, younger clients. Our modern client focused approach has increased our opportunities in the local market and provided a hum of excitement in the community. Our social media following has grown hugely, with new followers daily.

“From a team perspective, our staff love coming to work. Now when you walk through the door, you’re in a space that we love. We have all grown a new pride in our workplace and our work. The outcome has had a direct reflection on productivity and quality of work. Functionally, the space operates far better than before. We can work comfortably without climbing over each other. The stations are designed in such a way they don’t look cluttered with equipment. Our retail displays are purpose built, our stock is now displayed better and this has increased our sales and conversions around retail.

“We are so incredibly proud of what we have accomplished with our new fit-out and our new Meiko brand. It speaks about who we are as amazing hair stylists and it mirrors the exceptional service we deliver.

“The last 12 months have been a huge undertaking. Looking back at photos and putting this all together I have realised the work it has taken to get here. Just fresh paint and new mirrors became so much more than that. Endless Sundays, sore bodies, and a lot of blood sweat and tears. My husband Ben and I put everything into this design and it has definitely all been worth it.

“We still plan to build our new salon on our commercial site but this is our home for now. We love what we have created and we’re so proud. It’s given the team a new lease on life and created such a new fun environment. We have said goodbye to Nova. It served us well for 10 years but it was time to say a warm welcome to Meiko.”

Meiko Salon

What would you say to other salons considering entering this award in the future? Would you recommend entering The Industry Awards to other salon owners and why?

“I would definitely recommend entering The Industry awards. It takes a lot of work to refurbish a salon as well as work daily. Putting this entry together gives you the opportunity to reflect on this. Seeing the before and after photos makes you realise how much has changed and how much you can achieve if you put your mind to it. Being recognised for these achievements by others is so rewarding.”

Chatting with Janine Simons from Mane Salon – winner of Industry Trainer of the Year and Excellence in Marketing 2022

We spoke to Janine Simons from Mane Salon, who had some huge wins at The Industry Awards 2021, taking out Industry Trainer of the Year and Excellence in Marketing. 

What do you think led to your success in the Excellence in Marketing?

We’ve really focused a lot on our presence over the last two years and have put a lot of time and energy into both our physical and online presence. We’ve really honed the team, the look and feel of the salon and of our brand online. From our brand colours, patterns and fonts to our salon story, vision and mission, we’ve really dug deep and gone across all of it. 

One of the things I did nearly a year ago was employ someone in the role of branding and marketing, Ari Hughes. She’s amazing! Bringing her into the business has really taken our look, feel and connection with our clients to the next level. I made the leap and invested in this role because I felt  to take Mane to the next level, I needed some expertise in that area. I think one of the key things it has done for us is that it has made our brand not cookie cutter anymore. Our branding is very distinctly Mane now, which shows me it was absolutely the right investment. 

How would you describe Mane’s brand?

They say branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. I like to think that people would say that we’re trustworthy, progressive, and fun. Our team is a cohesive, supportive and fun team. Our vibe is professional and fun. At Mane we live by a set of strong core values, behaviours and a clear mission statement. 

The message we really want to get out to the world is that you can trust us to do great hair and you’ll have an excellent time while you’re sitting in our chair or visiting our salon. And it doesn’t end there – we still want to be connected with you when you’re not in front of us. It’s so vital to be connected and consistent, more so now than ever. 

Mane Salon

What drives you to keep improving your brand?

Our goal is to stay progressive and innovative. Hair trends change, everything constantly changes in the world, so we really want to make sure that we have a connection and engagement with our wider community. And by wider community we mean our team, our clients and their families and friends.

It’s vital now to have an online presence, and that’s something that’s changed a lot in the last five years. The way to gain and retain new clients for us is through an online presence and keeping it inspired, informative and fresh. Influencers and ambassadors are a must, and when you have a really strong, consistent brand and salon story, it’s easy to find people that are aligned with you because you’re attracting the right type of people. It also makes recruitment easier, training your team easier, and gaining and retaining clients easier. Our stylists can build rapport much more effectively and deliver great hair with the right people in their chair. 

Have you found benefits in recruitment through your branding and marketing journey?

Yeah, absolutely. The majority of our followers and the people we’re connected to online are our salon clients and their friends, but there’s also hairdressers and stylists following us. They can see what it’s like to work at Mane, what the team at Mane are like and what type of hair we do. They see our story, our vibe and think “I would love to work there”, or “I could fit in there”. Recruitment is a huge topic all of its own, but I definitely use a lot of videos and Mane’s online presence when it comes to recruiting the right people for the team. 

What is your favourite marketing channel and why?

We aren’t across a whole lot of channels. We very much stick to Facebook and Instagram, however we also have a small presence on Pinterest and TikTok. 

Instagram is our go-to. This is because our target market lives on Instagram. We get messaged a lot on Instagram, and it’s fast, informative and fun too. With the addition of Instagram Reels now, it’s so easy to keep up with social media trends online and create some fun vibes for the online world. Instagram is definitely our main social media happy place!

A key thing with social media is you don’t want to spread yourself too thin – if you do one platform really well, people will know where to find you and how to follow what you’re doing. Having quite a strong presence on Instagram, people feel like they know you, and most people want to go somewhere and do business with someone they know and trust. Focusing on one platform definitely makes it much easier to do this. 

Janine Simons, Mane Salon

Why is it so important to you to train apprentices?

It’s always been important for me to train apprentices. Part of my business model is our pathway of growing our own people from apprentices into executive stylists or salon managers – we have a quite strong career pathway. It really starts at the beginning and there are so many benefits to training your own apprentices. They really understand your culture, from day one, which creates amazing potential and growth in apprentices. 

From a personal perspective, it works for me and my business model and it is super rewarding. From an industry perspective, I think we all need to keep training and bringing people through our industry. There is arguably a shortage of qualified, competent stylists out there, so if you really want some great people it’s all about taking responsibility and training the next generation. Apprentices can be commercially viable pretty quickly if you set your training programme up well. We have a wonderful industry with so many opportunities, we just need a few more people willing to share, train and mentor the people in it at every level. 

What do you attribute your success to when it comes to training?

I guess the fastest answer to that is hard work. I know there’s probably going to be a lot of eye rolling going on when I say that, however there is a lot of truth to it. I honestly attribute the successes that I have had and continue to have to hard work. I spend a lot of time upskilling myself and the people around me, and not just in hairdressing skills. I also learn and educate how to train others really well, how to build rapport, how to be a great leader, how to communicate, create an excellent culture, everything and anything to grow great stylists and humans!

I’m also constantly experimenting with hair, especially colour, I love it. My true happy place is the business side of the salon world. I spend a lot of time and resources learning new ways of doing things and implementing them. I think it’s just so exciting to find new and better ways to do things in the hairdressing industry.  

The hairdressing skills, absolutely yes, they’re important, you need to be great at that. But it’s all the other things that make people well rounded that can take you from great to excellent when it comes to purpose, passion and potential. Those are big drivers for me. 

Janine Simons, winner of Industry Trainer of the Year 2022

What advice do you have for other trainers, who are wanting to be better and more successful in their role as trainer?

One key thing is to never stop learning. Keep educating yourself. As an educator or trainer, we need to stay ahead of what’s going on, stay inspired, stay current and fresh. 

Another key thing is to teach what you know and teach what you love to teach. That way you really do feel inspired, and the people that you’re educating get a lot out of whatever you’re sharing with them. 

When we’re teaching things we don’t really know or enjoy, no one wins from that. If you look at your team, you’ll have people in your team who are really good at the things you don’t like or who really enjoy training. Train them to train, then step aside and let them do their thing. 

Another thing I look to a lot is online resources or other educators. Don’t be afraid to bring other people in to do the training for things that you don’t enjoy or that you’re not good at. Stick to things that really float your boat and everyone will be a lot happier. 

Training can be a thankless task sometimes, it really can! However it’s vital for growth and for the survival of our industry. You just never know the influence or impact that you’re going to have on the people you’re training. It might be positive, it might be negative (let’s hope it’s positive!). That aside, just teach them anyway because you never know what people are going to take away from it. I believe everyone can teach someone something. 

What advice would you give to other people that may want to enter The Industry Awards 2022?

100% do it! This time around I actually wasn’t going to enter – we were just so busy with everything else. The deadline was extended, and I thought “maybe I should”, but I still didn’t. Then the deadline was extended again, and I thought “right Janine – this is a sign that you need to enter!”. 

It’s such a great journey when you enter. I took quite a deep dive and look into my business that I hadn’t done for a while, and I could see areas where we were absolutely winning, which is fantastic. I also saw gaps where we could actually do a bit better, or where there was something great but we hadn’t completely finished off what we were trying to do. It’s a really great opportunity to look closely at what’s going on in your business, implement some changes and amplify the things that are working really well. 

The whole team is involved – it takes a village, so they say. And it really does, I don’t do it all myself – absolutely not. Our branding and marketing guru, Ari, was integral in pulling it all together and making it look amazing. I do a brain dump in Google Docs and then I have Olivia, our in-house copywriter, pull it all together succinctly, before Ari makes it look beautiful. Olivia does all our web copy, emails, and newsletters – it’s good to have that consistency of voice. 

We often also do a team meeting around what we are entering.  It’s a collaboration, everyone contributes what they think it looks like and what they think the great things are that we’re doing.

And of course, being a finalist and winning is like the icing on the cake! It’s epic and it’s great for the team. When we win, it’s a team win! There’s always hilarity and tears of joy at the awards event. It’s such a great thing for a team to feel connected and to celebrate together. 

Mane Salon
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