Ella&Jade is a family-built brand, and I’ve continued to instil these values with all of our team members and extended clientele. We pride ourselves on delivering beautiful, wearable fashion-lead hair. We run a structured internal training program and encourage all of our seniors and apprentices to learn the ‘Ella&Jade Way’ and then make it their own.
As the old adage goes… behind every great salon is a team of passionate creatives. Those who venture above and beyond to ensure their salon’s sustained growth, success and the pursuit of client satisfaction.
While the current pandemic has forced many of us to hit an unexpected life pause (and rightfully so), Ella&Jade’s own Alannah Read and William Webb have used this unprecedented period to make manifest a long-held plan for salon growth, with the expansion of Ella&Jade Hair’s flagship salon expansion in Woolloongabba, Brisbane.
“[Expansion] has always been part of the plan, but it’s become more of a necessity in the past 12 months,” starts Salon Director Alannah Read. “This is has been a dream of mine since I took over the Ella&Jade reins; our clients travel from all over Brisbane, so it makes sense to be more centrally located and tap into a different market.”
Having assumed ownership of the popular family-owned outfit two years ago, Alannah (a master colourist and hairdresser in her own right), continues to forge her own creative path; culminating years of cross-regional education and a natural business aptitude to make her own mark on the Ella&Jade brand.
With both Alannah and Creative Director (and current FAME Team member, William Webb) at the helm, Ella&Jade looks set to continue its meteoric growth; an achievement echoed in their efforts to expand in 2020. We caught up with Alannah and William to chat inclusivity, salon expansion and productivity amid Covid-19.
TJ: Tell us… What’s new in the world of Ella&Jade Hair?
Alannah Read: It takes a lot to slow me down… and while the current climate has pushed some big plans back, it hasn’t stopped them [altogether]. In July, I announced the expansion of Ella&Jade’s second space in Brisbane’s inner-city suburb of Woolloongabba, set to open in October 2020.
This is something that’s been a dream of mine since I took over the reins of Ella&Jade two years ago. Expanding during a pandemic is as scary as it sounds! However, I [now] have even more confidence in our strength as a brand and as a team.
William Webb: With everything going on in the world, we’ve tried to use this downtime productively. I’ve been working on two external education platforms: one that focuses on salon-friendly techniques and the other on creative photoshoots.
It’s an exciting program that takes you through building a concept and working with a team to produce a collection or single image. I’ve also been working closely with Alannah on the new salon space and developing the Ella&Jade brand. So, I’ve been a busy boy!
TJ: How have you been navigating business ownership amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
AR: I’ve only been a business owner for two years, but I don’t think even 20 years of business experience could have prepped me for a global pandemic. Initially, we closed for three weeks out of concern for both customers and the team. Mentally and emotionally, it was exhausting.
I have a young team, and I could see the concern grow by the day. While we were closed, we used the time to come together as a team and rest and reset. I usually make well-informed and thought-out decisions, but the coronavirus has had us restructuring our business model and trading hours on the fly.
I must say, the industry support has been amazing. We have since re-opened with a key focus on the essence of what we do and why we do it; emphasising our salon experience for customers.
TJ: For those yet to visit, can you describe the Ella&Jade Hair culture and approach? Talk us through Ella&Jade Hair’s four key values.
AR: Ella&Jade is a family-built brand, and I’ve continued to instil these values with all of our team members and extended clientele. We pride ourselves on delivering beautiful, wearable fashion-lead hair. We run a structured internal training program and encourage all of our seniors and apprentices to learn the ‘Ella&Jade Way’ and then make it their own.
The word ‘diversity’ is always associated with our brand, and it’s something we pride ourselves on; it’s ultimately how we have grown our business. We embrace everyone’s unique style. We have clients who have been with us from the beginning and are fiercely loyal, right through to clients who travel far and wide for the Ella&Jade experience.
WW: For me, when working with clients, it’s about delivering beautiful fashion-focused and wearable hair. This is part of our salon identity and something we are very proud of. We make great hair accessible! It’s how we’ve grown so fast, and a big part of our brand.
TJ: Tell us about the new flagship salon expansion in Woolloongabba?
AR: It’s all about brand development and stepping into the Brisbane scene, for real! It has been a dream since I took over the reins from my parents two years ago. I’d like to add to our audience and expand the Ella&Jade experience. Our customers already travel far and wide for this experience.
Brand development, for me, means more employment opportunities and more chances to grow our talent; this is a fundamental part of what we are made up of. Ask any salon owner who is trying to hire quality senior staff right now; it’s tough out there.
Success for me is developing the Ella&Jade brand further and being able to lift the industry by providing opportunities to nurture and grow our own stylists.
WW: It’s going to be so gorgeous! We’ve been working on the design for months, and we wanted to change a few things up. It certainly won’t be your classic salon. When designing, we concentrated on the ‘feel’ of the space and having beautiful pockets within the salon. We wanted the basin area to feel more like a spa with softer lighting and tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the cutting floor.
A large stone table will be a real focal point of the salon with its organic shape being picked up in details around the shop. I think for us, the big change will be not having a reception desk. We wanted the client experience to feel very different and more like walking into a designer boutique or fine dining restaurant.
You will be greeted by one of the team and taken to a plush waiting area with a bespoke cocktail menu before your stylist welcomes you and takes you to your station. It will be an Ella&Jade experience like no other!
TJ: How long has this been in the pipeline?
AR: It has always been the plan, but in the past 12 months, it’s become more of a necessity. We’ve run entirely out of space in Algester! We have clients that travel from all over Brisbane, so it makes sense to be more centrally located and tap into a different market that we haven’t been able to before.
TJ: What first inspired Ella&Jade Hair?
AR: Ella&Jade Hair has been a family-owned business for over 15 years, my mum and my sister were both hairdressers, and I got roped in too and love everything about the industry.
E&J is myself and my sister’s middle names – Alannah Jade. Taking over the ropes two years ago gave me a chance to put my stamp on the brand and build my own family within the family-run business. For me, it has always been about building a brand that was inclusive, diverse and a place for my team to grow and chase their dreams freely.
I love being able to grow our own stylists and get people excited about our industry; that is the most rewarding part of all.
TJ: What have been some of your shared highlights over the course of business operation?
AR: So many! Being named finalists for ‘Salon Team of the Year’ three years in a row at Hair Expo has been amazing. We’ve also been named finalists for ‘Best Customer Care’ and ‘In-salon Training’ at AHIA.
WW: Honestly, and it sounds cheesy, but watching the team grow from strength to strength is probably one of my biggest achievements. The second salon would not be possible without such a solid team in Algester. We did the Gen Next show last year at Hair Expo, and that was huge for us, as such a small team at the time.
I was missing in action with the FAME Team most of the weekend, so to see the team come together and smash the prep was really special.
TJ: Any advice that has informed your approach to hairdressing and/or business?
AR: Inclusivity. Include your team in your dreams and allow them to do the same. Include those who you value in your plans and ideas and watch them flourish. Success in business is never a one-person show, this goes from working in a team on the salon floor to the external running of a business, and this is something I carry with me in everything that I do.
WW: The best advice I got when I was an apprentice is your only as good as your last haircut, this has stayed with me my whole career and is something I truly believe.
TJ: Tell us abit about the team who comprise Ella&Jade Hair.
WW: We have a strong team of nine working in Algester. The thing I love the most at E&J is the individual is very much celebrated. We all have our own styles and aspects of the industry we are passionate about. This creates a diverse team of individuals and an exciting salon environment that produces a variety of work. They do say variety is the spice of life!
TJ: How do you typically go about sourcing prospective staff? Any staff incentives or initiatives?
AR: Apprenticeship completion is scarily low and concerning for the years to come. I have always focused on growing our own at E&J, and we do this with our internal training program that we run weekly in-salon. Nurture them, provide them with the skillset and allow them to flourish. This is where my focus always is with recruitment.
WW: It’s a hard one, our industry has a real problem with not enough apprentices finishing and salons not nurturing their young talent. I will never understand why you would spend three years investing time and money into an apprentice, and then let them go at the end of their apprenticeship. So we work hard to train from the ground up.
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