Simone Gillespie

Comments (0) Business Minds, Interviews

Hair Pacific Salon

Simone, you recently took ownership of the Hair Pacific salon, having worked there for several years prior. Can you tell us what inspired you to make the transition from hairstylist to hairstylist AND business owner?

Honestly, the chance to become a business owner came as a complete surprise. Before I purchased the Hair Pacific salon, I worked full-time for the previous owner, Kerrie. I had always loved working for her; she was such an amazing boss and good friend. 

One day Kerrie approached me and told me that she wanted to sell her business. I built up the courage to send Kerrie a message to enquire about purchasing the business. After that, everything just fell into place. 

During the process of buying the business, there were so many times that I wanted to chicken out. There were soooo many hurdles that I had to jump over to make my dream happen. 

The transition from being a full-time employee to a business owner was massive. As a full-time employee, all I needed to do was turn up every week, do what I loved and get paid. All of a sudden, as a business owner, I had so much more risk and responsibility. It was really daunting.

But, I knew the business. I knew the clientele, and I knew that I was capable of continuing the legacy that Kerrie had built with Hair Pacific for 25 years. The best thing is, Kerrie still works alongside me; we simply switched roles, and it has been the easiest transition ever. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and this new beginning.

What do you love most about being a hairstylist?

I love to be creative. Styling hair is such a great way to create something beautiful and make someone feel like a million dollars. Sometimes I will have clients walk in feeling unhappy and lacking confidence and by the time they leave the salon, they have had a great laugh; they’ve caught up on the local happenings, and most importantly, they are feeling good about themselves.

What have been some of the highlights (no pun intended) of your career to date?

I would have to say the highlights of my career come from all of the training and learning that I have completed over the years. I love taking these learnings back to the salon and putting them into action. I have been to so many classes and seminars, and I still get so excited to attend them. Hair is my passion, and I never want to stop learning and creating. Whether it’s attending cutting, foiling, styling or up-styling courses, I just consider myself to be extremely lucky to be able to participate in this life-long learning opportunity.

What are some of the biggest challenges that you faced so far as a business owner?

The biggest challenge I have faced as a business owner so far is managing staff. 

My partner pulled me up on this recently and reminded me that not everyone has a passion for hair like I do; some people’s priorities are different. It took a little while for this advice to sink in, but I have now taken this on board. Everyone is different, and as a boss, I need to cater for that. 

I love people, so I honestly didn’t think that managing them would have been as challenging as it is. But I’m learning!

What has been the best piece of business advice you have ever received, and how have you implemented that advice in your own business?

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and don’t burn yourself out. While I focus on our beautiful clients who come in and make them feel a million dollars, I have to remember that I have a family at home and that they need a nice mum/partner and not a tired and cranky mum/partner. I now only do two late nights a week, instead of working every available hour of the day and night. I have also recently employed two more senior stylists. This is providing me with a healthier balance.

Do you have any tips you can share around running a salon?

I would have to say it’s in the attention to detail. I take pride in my work, and so does every stylist who works here. I make sure everyone feels comfortable. If people are comfortable, everyone is happy, and everything seems to run smoothly.

What are you hoping to achieve in business in the next 12 months?

For the next 12 months, I am focusing on building the business, so that it is a sustainable salon. I have so many things I want to do right now, but I plan to be in this business for many years, so I need to keep reminding myself that all of my goals and dreams don’t need to be achieved straight away.

And finally, if you could invite three business-people to lunch, who would they be and why would you invite them?

The three businesspeople that I would invite to lunch would be: 

Alistair Flower. What he has done with Settlers Inn is amazing. It has been so great to watch him transform that business from being largely unmentionable to one of the most popular venues in town.

The second would be you, Jane. I would pick your brain about everything to do with marketing, from the basics to the advanced and everything in between. 

My third guest would be a lady called Kellie, who works in education at Royal Hair in Sydney. This is one of my favourite salons and was the winner of Australia Salon AHIA of the year 2018. I would love to ask what inspires her and keeps her going. I would then want to walk a week in her shoes – there would be so much that I could learn from that experience.

Thanks for your time, Simone.

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