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From start up to NZ Salon of the Year in just two years!

19 Nov 2014 by Kitomba

The 2014 Industry Awards have wrapped up for another year. It was fantastic celebrating creative, training and business success together under one roof for the fifth consecutive year with our partners HITO and NZARH. This year we had a record number of entries in the Kitomba NZARH Business Awards. The Kitomba NZARH New Zealand Salon of the Year winner, La Villa Hair & Beauty’s Kristal Sargent went from starting her salon to winning four Business Awards in just over two years! Read on to hear their story.

How was La Villa Hair & Beauty born?

La Villa is a direct result of what I have always thought a hair and beauty salon should be. I was overwhelmed with ideas and the excitement of creating a salon that was completely unique to anything else around, and that I knew my clients would love! After sourcing every element of what I was looking for, from Wellington to as far as Amsterdam, on June 26th 2012, La Villa was born!

Tell me about the salon environment, you hoped to create with La Villa—what inspired you?

I believe the environment of a place comes firstly from the people in it, and secondly from the physical surroundings. What I have created at La Villa is a feeling of tranquility, peace, professionalism, and relaxation, as well as fun. A lot of this is drawn from my personality and my stylists that I have chosen. I put my heart and soul into creating surroundings that make our clients feel like they’re celebrities and are stepping into a different world for a couple of hours. I am a person who loves the shock factor, and to go against the norm a little, so my inspiration came from striving to offer something totally different from other salons, and my love of art, history and architecture.

Kitomba Blog - La Villa Salon

What is your business philosophy?

The culture at La Villa Hair & Beauty revolves around two key mantras:

  1. You are only as good as your last service
  2. Your staff are your business

This is something that I guide my stylists by and that we all believe in. Quality craftsmanship and giving no less than 100 percent to each and every client, as well as each other, is the success behind my business.

How do you keep your staff motivated and inspired?

To me, productivity and overall attitude is a great indicator of team satisfaction. I have found that to have happy, successful stylists, there needs to be a feeling that oozes warmth, security and positivity, along with a realistic, rewarding wage and commission structure. Constantly offering fresh ideas and training, as well as spending time socially as people (not just as stylists), ensures a strong bond, therefore happy, content, and motivated staff.

What part has technology played in supporting your success?

Technology has played a tremendous part in the success of La Villa! In my opinion, Kitomba is the best technological advancement created in our industry, and quite honestly I would be lost without it! The convenience of having my data/client information in one place and having the text messages and emails automatically sent out to clients, has saved us thousands in avoiding no-shows and forgotten appointments. Tracking stock and running reports on every sector of my business is all now possible thanks to technology. Social media is fantastic, and if done properly, can generate a substantial amount of on-going business. I think embracing it, learning about it, and enjoying it empowers you, and will only make your business stronger.

What initially drove you to enter La Villa into the Business Awards the first time?

The first year that we entered the awards was last year (2013) and we entered only three categories. The whole process was a new experience for me, and a big reason for entering was to measure La Villa to peers in the industry. We won “Wella Fastest Growing Salon NZ”, which was fantastic, but I then had my eye on the line up for next year. I am always up for a challenge and this was a good way to get honest and true results. I knew, with my personality, it would spark a strong drive to succeed.

Tell me about the process you went through entering the 2014 Business Awards?

From the moment we received the email with the application form attached, my designer and I were hard at work with meeting after meeting, discussing the strategic planning of the steps involved in putting our presentation together. Every aspect of your business is broken down, dissected and scrutinised, and it was literally 1 or 2am finishes some nights. What I love about these awards is that it’s not easy, and it is certainly not easy to win such amazing titles (particularly New Zealand Salon of the Year), but, that is the very reason that it was worth it.

Kitomba NZARH Awards: La Villa Hair & Beauty

Lynnette Karam-Whalley, NZARH Chairperson, La Villa salon owner Kristal Sargent and her team Chevy Wawatai-Creach, Joni Shepherd and Tom Murphy, Kitomba CEO

How does the process of entering the awards help you as a business owner?

Going through the process of entering the awards has helped me on a number of levels, as both an owner and a stylist. I have a very clear and comprehensive view on exactly where my business sits within the industry, what my strong points are, and what areas I could tweak a little. This has helped immensely with the future direction of La Villa, and has confirmed with me that I am on the right page. Breaking down your business to this extent, makes things incredibly transparent, and therefore allows you to truly know your business inside and out.

What did winning the 2014 Kitomba NZARH New Zealand Salon of the Year mean to you and how has this win impacted your business?

To say it means the world to me for so many different reasons is an understatement. On a personal level, the confidence that I have gained through not only industry recognition, but also self-recognition—trusting my own judgment and having faith in myself as a successful business owner—is invaluable. It has only been a week since we took the title, and already the impact on my business is unbelievable. With a combination of proud clients, fevered friends and family, online/social media, and industry recognition, we have had an extraordinary amount of publicity, and positive feedback. I can’t find the right words to describe how much this award means to me!

What would you say to salons considering entering the Business Awards in the future?

I would say this: “Anything that is worth doing is hard, anything that is hard to do is worth it”. The truth is, being compared to your peers in your industry is a very difficult thing to do, because you have to be okay with not coming out on top. For me, this was the hardest part, because I think if you are the sort of person who is entering a competition like this, you are going to be hard working and driven by nature, so there is always going to be that fear when you are truly tested. My advice to future entrants would be: suck up any fear or hesitation, exchange it for excitement, grab the opportunity with both hands, focus, and give it your blood sweat and tears. A strategic plan for the year leading up to the awards is a must, and talk to people in the industry who have been there before. Entering the Kitomba Business Awards is one of the most empowering, positive and emotionally fulfilling things that I have ever experienced.

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