Meet the winner of the Top Performing Stylist of the Year award- Tayla Carpenter

How does it feel to be the winner of the Top Performing Stylist award?

It feels really good, really amazing. It feels like my hard work has been recognised.


How long have you been working in the industry?

I think it’s been 17 years now! I went to an old hairdressing college as a model for a friend of mine, and I was just playing with a dolly when one of the stylists came over and said that what I was doing was actually pretty good. I had had a bit of experience from when I used to skate for New Zealand, I used to do hair-ups for the skaters, so I guess it started from a really young age. I used to love hair and playing with styles, but once that teacher told me I was good, I signed up for hair college, became an apprentice and just went from there!


What, or who, has been the biggest influence in your career so far?

Definitely my clients, they influence me to always be better and stay at the top of the game. My team members, of course, are amazing, as well as our brand partner, Matrix. Matrix supports us, give us lots of opportunities and helps us with business decisions. There are also all the amazing hairdressers that I’ve gotten to work with, like Tash King, Michael Beel and Ronda Shaskey – just to name a few as I have been influenced by so many incredible hairdressers! I’ve had the opportunity to either work beside them or be educated by them. Their influence just drives me – I’ve learnt new techniques and have been inspired to keep improving my skills and the salon.


Do you feel a sense of community within the hair industry?

Absolutely – in the last five years we’ve all been collaborating a lot more. I just did the NZTV awards with 6 other hairdressers. We all worked together, had a great time, learnt from each other and pulled some amazing looks together. I feel like we’ve become a community. You can kind of spot a hairdresser anywhere! They’re part of your tribe. Even with The Industry Awards – it was amazing to be amongst such high calibre people and it felt like everyone was happy for each other. I was honoured to be in the top 5 against such top talent. It felt like The Industry Awards helped bring the community together in NZ.


How do you ensure you’re delivering a service your clients will love?

As both a stylist and a salon owner – it’s about maintaining the relationships I’ve built in the last 16 years. Sticking to our 7 step client journey and ensuring we are continually building our relationships and constantly educating ourselves. Sending out questionnaires using SurveyMonkey to find out if they’re happy with the service, even down to the temperature of the coffee. It ensures that everything is tailored to them. A lot of my clients have been with me for 12-16 years, so they’re very honest with me anyway! They give feedback on Survey Monkey, but they’re happy to give honest and open feedback in the salon as well. Our newer clients may be more likely to give that feedback on Survey Monkey, but in fact a lot of the feedback is positive so they’re happy to say it in person as well.


What do you think is the main reason clients come back to you?

The relationship definitely, but also producing great hair. You have to be great at what you do. You always need to offer change. Something new, something fresh – you never know if they might want it! You need to be consistent with your standards, always maintaining good high-quality standards.


How do you ensure you’re on top of your game when it comes to the latest trends and techniques?

Always take advantage of seminars and educational opportunities. I’ve been in the industry for a long time and I still go to about 4-5 educational events every year. I’ll send all my team members on them as well. This industry is forever evolving so you’ve always got to be learning. We’ll do trainings in and out of the salon as well as attend hair expos. Forever and always learning is really key to improving.


What are your top KPIs and what do you to work towards increasing them?

All of my KPIs are pretty strong to be honest, but my best ones would be rebooking and retail. I’m always looking at my KPIs and targets in Kitomba and reflecting on how I could do better. I increase numbers by educating my clients and finding solutions to their hair problems. I also do ‘power-booking’, where I sit down every morning, look through my client cards for the day and consider what I did last time, what change I could offer, whether they had a treatment last time and general ways I could improve their experience. Power-booking has been really helpful as it shows our clients that we’re interested in them. For example, I may have written down that they’re going on holiday in January, so I can check in with them and see if they want to go lighter for their holiday, or maybe they want to take a particular product with them. Asking what they do and educating them on the different options also means they’re getting the most from their time with us. 

We put our weekly total on the back wall, which ensures we can always see where we’re sitting and are always trying to achieve a higher number. I get the girls to print off the Kitomba records in the morning for the clients, they’ll look through everything for the day, and make sure we have enough time for all the treatments and that we’re organised. Being organised helps everyone stay on the same page, and we’re able to keep a really good atmosphere in the salon. It feels like a family here, it’s inclusive, it’s supportive and it’s comfortable. The clients get to come into a really welcoming environment and then get to leave feeling beautiful!

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What would your advice be to other stylists wanting to enter The Industry Awards?

Evaluate where you are right now, set smart goals about what you want to strive for, and then just go for it. I always keep that vision in the forefront of my mind. We do a team meeting every week, so we’ll bring up our individual goals and our team goals. We check in with where we are, and make sure we’re taking the right steps to follow through with the goal. Just go for it, what do you have to lose!

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