Beauty looks ahead

Beauty looks ahead

2020 was one of the most challenging years in history for the professional beauty industry. From the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the closures of salons and beauty stores to consumers staying home to stay safe to major supply chain shortages to civil unrest and protests in major cities, disruption occurred at every level of the beauty business.

In addition, consumers’ habits and practices—from buying as much as possible online to DIY hair, skin and nail services—have changed dramatically. How do we continue to delight consumers, service those new needs, create an industry and culture of diversity and inclusion, and fuel future growth?

For a real-world perspective, we asked industry thought-leaders to share their collective wisdom, insights and expertise to help us all move forward together. Following are the big pivots and small shifts that they shared to make the beauty industry more profitable for all involved.

Frank P. Fulco, CEO, America’s Beauty Show: A key lesson that was amplified in 2020 is “our license matters.” Sanitization is a significant portion of the beauty school curriculum and students must master sanitization protocols to earn their professional licenses. As a greater community, that knowledge and discipline enabled thousands of licensed beauty professionals to perform their work safely while mitigating the risk of spreading COVID-19. It is remarkable and testament to why “our license matters.” 

2021 is all about institutionalizing re-invented business processes and managing cash flow. We are encouraging salon owners to invest their limited cash-flow wisely into education, healthcare and inventory. The future of our industry is bright, but we still have challenges ahead. We at Cosmetologists Chicago and America’s Beauty Show have been working tirelessly at building and implementing robust digital strategies. However, we are an industry based on love, and love never goes out of style. People hug people and that matters.

Karen Gordon, President, Cosmetologists Chicago, and Owner, J. Gordon Designsand Karen Gordon Hair Loss Solutions: To thrive in 2021, we must up our games big time! It’s going to be survival of the fittest. A lot of clients have been lost, so we must go back to basics and rebuild. That means redesigning our marketing plans to attract new clients, offering new services to bring in new revenue and ramping up our skills with education.

From a business owner’s perspective, we must examine every bill and every benefit to see what we can truly afford. That includes weeding out retail products that are slow-sellers and examining our cost of supplies, such as color. We need a larger profit margin and it won’t be coming from price increases anytime soon. Overall, we must make our businesses very lean and treat every client like it is the first time they are in the salon.

Debra Penzone, CEO, PENZONE: At PENZONE, we’re continuing to focus on what we do best—improving lives from the outside in. We’re holding true to our mission and standing on our brand pillars to get us through this trying time. To thrive in 2021, we intend to set clearly defined goals and march toward them. We anticipate disruptions—the challenges we’re facing now aren’t completely behind us yet. We know we’ll persevere, we’ll get through it and come out stronger on the other side.

Steve Cohn, CEO, Premier Beauty Supply: 2020 was a crazy year. We put all of our energies toward the opportunities. We have reset our business model, focusing on three channels of distribution—street, inside and digital sales. We spent most of the down time getting our digital channels live, building our marketing department to support both our digital and traditional business needs and ensuring that it all ties in together for one consistent message. 

Gary Call, Head Coach, KIN North America Inc.: The beauty business is that one-on-one, problem-solving, mentoring, life- improving process. It’s something that becomes a must-have, quality, life-enhancing relationship the client won’t do without. We, the salon, the stylist, become the concierge who curates and filters everything they experience in life—the best coffee place, the newest shoes, the cool new app, the hot new music track, the fun gadget, the latest fashion accessory, the tastiest lunch place and the perfect recommendation for a late-night drink. Oh, and we do your hair, too. In short, we’re essential!

Kevin Cameron, SVP Global Marketing, Education & Business Development, Pivot Point International, Inc. An appreciation for blended learning has emerged. We are on the precipice of a new beginning for professional beauty education. We whole-heartedly believe our industry as a whole can champion technology-enabled learning engagement and social collaboration, creating reach like we have never seen before.

Mary Dillon, CEO, Ulta Beauty: We know beauty lives at the intersection of physical and digital, and in either space, emotion is at the heart. I believe authentically putting beauty enthusiasts at the center of what we do allows us to connect meaningfully. To succeed, we must deliver on their terms and reflect their needs and values. We will continue to invest in our culture, as we look forward.

America’s Beauty Show registration will be open soon! Please save the dates, September 11-13, 2021, when ABS moves back to Rosemont, IL, and get ready for the beauty industry family reunion! For additional questions, email or call 800-648-2505.

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