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From “ultimate vision” to 2013 New Zealand Salon of the Year

28 Oct 2014 by Kitomba

We are getting close to that time of year when the winners of the 2014 Kitomba NZARH Business Awards are announced. Read on to see how last year’s New Zealand Salon of the Year winner, Carla Thompson of H&B Hair Art and Beauty went from her “ultimate vision” to start her own salon, through to winning Salon of the Year in 2013.

How was H&B born?

I have always known since I was a little girl when I used to help out at my Aunt’s hair salon, that my ambition was to be a Hairdresser. When I left school at the age of 16, I worked hard to qualify as soon as I possibly could. My ultimate vision was always to run my own business and create a salon that epitomises a sense of timeless style and elegance. H&B was basically born out of that vision and has grown into the salon it is today. When I moved to New Zealand from the UK, I worked for other people where I was involved in educating and tutoring for a few years before opening Hair Art & Beauty in one of the suburbs of Christchurch, which over an 18 year period doubled in size and incorporated a Beauty Spa. Four years ago we rebranded as H&B Hair Art & Beauty and moved into our architecturally designed purpose built building on one of the main arterial routes on the outskirts of the city. The salon has grown enormously over those past 4 years and we now have a large team of stylists and beauty therapists and an online store that is rapidly expanding. We have also started to run educational workshops from our purpose built education room.

Tell me about the salon environment you hoped to create with H&B – What inspired you?

I wanted to create a salon that epitomises style and elegance, classic clean cut lines and minimal clutter. The salon has a lot of natural light and is airy and spacious. Clients walk through a huge bright blue pivot door from the busy street into an oasis of calm and tranquility. I wanted it to be an escape, somewhere clients can come to be pampered for a short while before returning to their hectic lives.

What’s your business philosophy?

I have grown the business over a number of years to the large successful salon it is today and that growth has deliberately been kept at a steady pace which allows for changes. I recognise that my clients are my number one priority and H&B’s philosophy of excellence demonstrates that we pride ourselves on giving 100% customer service, coupled with educating clients and offering them what I believe are the best products on the market. We spend a lot of time researching products, also the latest trends and innovations. Environmentally sustainable and cruelty free products are very important to me.

How do you keep your staff motivated and inspired?

H&B has a large and diverse team and I try to recognise a team member’s individuality and find what motivates and inspires them. Education is foremost and  the salon sets aside dedicated training times for training. Senior staff will train more junior staff but I also encourage a cross sharing of information as everyone has something to offer and can learn from one another. I encourage team members to attend as many workshops as they can and will often motivate them to do this by offering them as a form of incentive. For example, last year some of the H&B team who reached their incentive targets travelled to Hair Expo in Sydney on an all expenses paid weekend. Our Product Company La Biosthetique, offers regular workshops and show cases 3 new seasonal trends each year which team members attend. I truly believe that education is key to inspiring and motivating team members and is especially important for bringing through the next generation of hairdressers.

What part has technology played in supporting your success?

Technology is very important in the salon and I must admit I am the first to love a gadget, especially my iPad which is why I’ve equipped the salon with iPads for clients to use, either to read magazines or to flick through styles created by the H&B team to showcase their talents. A computerised booking system is essential and Kitomba is fantastic as it encompasses all of our needs and more. Industry needs to adapt to the lifestyles of our clients and online booking is a fantastic tool for clients to use as they can book at a time to suit them and of course our on-line store too, people can shop at any time of the day or night! Our website is our biggest driver of clients to the salon and it goes without saying that social media is also part of today’s successful salon with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Kitomba Blog Article - H&B Hair Art and Beauty

What initially drove you to enter H&B in the Business Awards the first time? Why was it important for H&B to enter the Business Awards?

I think it is important to always continue to achieve, to continue to develop and not stay still, and I also believe it is important for a salon to have a well rounded approach. Being a hairdresser is not just about winning awards of a technical or creative nature, for me it is also about proving that I have the skills to be a good business woman. I initially entered to push myself further and see what I could achieve, I had no idea how addictive it would be! I think clients look at the business awards we have achieved and appreciate the salon more for them. It’s recognition of how hard we work and everything that goes on behind the scenes.

How many times have you entered the Business Awards?

I’ve entered the business awards 3 times, in 2011 and in 2012 we were awarded Grand Salon and in 2013 we were awarded Salon of the Year.

Tell me about the process you went through in entering the 2013 Business Awards.

For me, a lot of pre-planning goes into entering the awards during the year. I make sure I know what information is required and collate and collect it as we go. I’m lucky in that I have a strong administration team around me and they help. My partner is also my accountant and it’s true I always take work home with me. It is a lot of hard work but it’s also enjoyable but I still don’t know how to avoid that mad rush at the end to get my entry to the courier on time!

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

It’s a brilliant process to go through as a business owner and I would recommend that any salon do it. It forces you to look at all your practices and processes and focuses on what went brilliantly through the year and what needs more input. It’s like a spring clean of your business.

What did winning the 2013 Kitomba NZARH New Zealand Salon of the Year mean to you and how has this win impacted your business?

Kitomba Blog Post: H&B Hair Art and Beauty

Winning the award was a total surprise for us and it has just made our business stronger. Being able to say that H&B won Salon of the Year is a huge accolade and it opens up new opportunities for us. I would say the business has grown even more since we won the award and I am conscious that we are in the public eye more and that can only make us strive to be even better.

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

I would say it’s hard work but it’s also a lot of fun, right through from the initial planning stages to the gala night. Be organised and collect information throughout the year, look at the types of questions that will be asked and as you go along think about what you are doing and how it fits with the entry. It’s definitely worth doing and it definitely makes you focus much more on your business practices.

We love finding out the amazing things our Kitomba customers are doing. Have you got a great story to share about how you use Kitomba? Get in touch and we can share your story.

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