This year Sustainable Salons really took it to the next level with our annual conference. With a greater number of team members, and a vision more bold and innovative than ever, our three day conference “Championing Growth” was a major success. There was laughter, hugs, smiles and tears from our Sydney depot at Thorndale Foundation to WeWork in Sydney CBD, our team came from all over Australia and New Zealand to celebrate the milestones achieved over the last 12 months, and to look forward to where we’re headed next as a company.

Day 1 – Thorndale Foundation Depot

Day 1 at the Thorndale Foundation represented a chance for the team, old and new, to finally all meet in person after working from home throughout the pandemic and still today.

As a Founder, the key ingredient to our success as a start-up and now a scale-up social enterprise, has always been our people, and our collective belief that the world around us could be a better place. Not just another tree-hugging feel good story, but a company that takes matters into our own hands and makes sustainability reality by educating and demonstrating exactly how it is done.

Our day at the depot really demonstrated the processes and operations that allow the circular economy to run, and to make resource recovery, reuse and recycling a tangible reality. We sorted through ponytails donated from young kids to caring adults who all want to make a difference in the lives of those suffering from medically-induced hair-loss conditions, by providing hair for medical wigs. We created hairbooms from the hair that was collected from our member salons to help clean up any future oil spills. We cleaned the bags that held all the resources as they were transported to and from our members and the depots. We did everything and anything that our supported employees and depot operations team members did on a daily basis to empower those of us who work from home to truly understand the end-to-end process, and why we do the work we do. A competition was held throughout these activities to see which team could be the most productive, and the winner was our team, Team 1, where we decided to donate the winnings to a charity of our choice.

This was accompanied by the presentation of our company’s milestones over the last 12 months. We all did an incredible job of overcoming the difficulties that covid brought forward from retention, to lockdowns, supply chain issues and more. But as a company we banded together, sacrificed together to achieve spectacular results. Over 1.2 million kgs of resources diverted away from landfill, 197,000+ ponytails donated, 208,000+ meals donated to Oz/KiwiHarvest. We now have over 1335 members on our resource recovery program, with many more on the way with our regional expansion across Australia and New Zealand finally being rolled out. Those very members are using our online Rewards Shop 131% more than last year with almost 7,000 orders, and getting educated via our Education App with a 347% increase in completion rates. We’ve also sent conscious consumers to our members via our Salon Locator which saw a 72% increase in clicks with almost 18,000 total over the last year. We were also featured in SBS, ABC, Channel 7, Channel 9 and all across social media channels from feel good ponytail stories, to future thinking with hair being used in our solar panels.

Two key figures that we saw coming out of this presentation were our NPS and our Junkee Media Survey. Traditionally companies see an NPS of 35, those with 60 are considered good. Us? Our NPS is 88.7! We’re on the way to becoming what the industry calls an NPS Unicorn where only companies like Tesla and Apple have been. Not only that we ran a survey across almost 900 Australians and Kiwis and found that 91% were completely okay with paying a small sustainability fee as part of their total, and 92% were happy to recommend a Sustainable Salon to a friend. How great is that!

By becoming a remote first company through the pandemic, we had a unique opportunity for the first time in our history to start to hire outside of Sydney to look for the right talent in many places we wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise. This lead us to finding the right people who had the right sustainability mindset to jump onto our rocketship to really pivot our company from a start-up into a scale-up. But remote first also came with the challenge of becoming a digital native. Taking on board Google Workspace, Asana, Salesforce, Employment Hero and all these new platforms were definitely a challenge but once we got the hang of it, we’re working more efficiently and communicating more effectively than ever before.

Not only did we focus on our internal digital transformation we also focused on our members. Digital marketing, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, mobile first thinking and even digital sales enables us to educate, and communicate with our soon-to-be, new and existing members in a more streamlined and standardised digital process. Delivering more personalised messages at the right moment, meant that we did the thinking and the AI did the working, freeing up our time to focus more on the bigger picture.

Day 2 – WeWork

Day 2 at WeWork was incredible. Each team went off into their own rooms and had a facilitator run through a project that was important to them right then and there. For example, Marketing and Innovations focussed on our physical merchandise kit, Sales focused on their new Sales Playbook, and like that each team came out of those sessions better equipped with more knowledge and confidence to take their skillsets to the next level and perform their jobs to the highest level of both performance and enjoyment.

To take this to an even higher level, the company came together for the second half of the day to focus on each individual, and how we are all different, communicate differently, have different needs and work differently according to our Personality Indexes. These were processed and analysed by Red Wolf, using data from studies from the last 60 years, so we knew we were in capable hands. We all realised that some leaders were direct, some were more carefree, some team members wanted variety, some wanted structure, but in the end we all realised that as a company we had a range of diverse people who could contribute their unique ideas in innovative ways, which allows our company to continue to be at the forefront and drive out-of-the-box thinking and meaningful change.

Day 3 – WeWork 2.0

Day 3 at WeWork was deep, vulnerable and insightful. The Innovations team presented to the rest of the company the core values that by taking on-board hundreds of comments from all members of the team, produced four main pillars.

What I found the most meaningful as a Founder is that the new way of thinking is not developing values and molding the team around those values, but actually asking the team what their values are and molding our company values around the team. By doing this we create a cohesive environment where everyone feels valued, heard and seen, enabling them to do their best work, knowing that their contributions are meaningful and impactful to their values, the companies values and the planet as a whole. Our values ended up being Innovation, Teamwork, Growth and Integrity. With daily, actionable values under each of them. As you can see out values are visualised from the top down. We imagined our values as a tree. The Fruit and Leaves are why we do it i.e. for the Planet, Purpose and Impact, the Trunk and Branches are the how we do it i.e. with Innovation, Teamwork, Growth and Integrity, and the Roots and Soil are the what we do everyday, solving problem, communicating, learning, taking action and more.

Our team became very vulnerable about opening up about their values in our afternoon session as we asked the team what these pillars actually meant to them. There were many answers from many different perspectives. One I found interesting was the actionable value of Empathy. This can be seen as Empathy for each other in the team when understanding each others needs, workloads etc., but it can also be seen from the perspective of our mission itself is an empathetic one as we have empathy for the Planet that we are trying to protect. As such all of our daily values initiated this deeper discussion amongst all team members from Founders to interns, fostering a greater understanding of each other and our goals.

With that we wrapped up conference with a big thank you to all our team members that made these three days a reality, and the broader team that attended and contributed their fullest attention and energy to each and every one of our activities. Each day had a team dinner that ended in drinks and a bit of fun, and overall we walked away from this conference with many answers, but also many more questions about how we want to best contribute to the Sustainable Salons mission and make sustainability truly a reality for all. We look forward to another successful and impactful 12 months ahead to our next annual conference. Until then…Ciao!

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