Thank you so much for being our first guests in our ‘women in business’ series. This is something we have been wanting to do for a while now, celebrating women; the highs, the lows and the journey of getting to where you are what lies ahead.
Let’s break the ice with these quick fire rapid questions:
Go to drink?
Lulu: amaretto sour
Jords: any sort of sour
Favourite place to eat?
Jords: right now, Bianca
What’s the last song you listened to?
Lulu: Solar Power , Lorde
Jords: twinkle twinkle little star haha!!! Leo’s fave (mum life)
Go to beauty product?
Lulu: I can’t go without my Mecca gloss in the shade rose lip
Jords: my hourglass brow pencil!
All time favourite movie?
Lulu: The Holiday!
Jords: It’s Complicated or Bridesmaids (depending on my mood!)
Can you start by sharing with us what is The Mane Society?
Lulu: The Mane Society is a hair salon which specialises in extensions and colour
Jords: but more than that, it’s a place where we hope our staff love to come to work every day, and the clients look forward to coming to be pampered and unwind.
What were you both doing before you started running a business together? How has your prior experience in both life/jobs helped shape your business today?
Lulu: I was studying Law and working normal uni jobs on the side! Jordie and I both always did hair extensions on the side of our other jobs! What lead to the salon was, in 2017 for the first time ever we were both doing just extensions, no uni or other jobs! We both agreed that we loved doing this and thought we would try take it further!
Jords: I was studying a bachelor in business and PR. Studying wasn’t exactly my passion but when I was younger if felt like a natural stepping stone from school to work life. I have had various jobs throughout my years of study that have all taught me something but I definitely think watching my dad work for himself was something I admired and always wanted!
Can you share the early days of TMS and how it began?
Lulu: The start of TMS was pretty consistent with how we do everything in life! We gave it very little thought and just rushed into it! We are both super impulsive and probably have a bit too much confidence.
Jords: Let’s put it this way… December 2017 we had no idea we were opening a salon. January 2018 we signed a three year lease! Lol
How has it been working with family? I know working with siblings can be…. at times not all sunshine and rainbows. How do you both maintain a healthy business partnership? Can you explain each other in three words:
Lulu: Jordie is sensible, forward thinking and fun! Working with a sibling feels super secure because the love between us is unconditional so we know will work through anything!
Jords: Lulu is thoughtful, impulsive and wise beyond her years! We think that having the same upbringing has had a huge affect on why we think we agree on everything! We seem to want to approach almost every situation in the same way so there has been very little (to no) conflict!
The conception of your business isn’t the typical route others have taken, particularly working in the beauty/hair field (it’s so INSPIRING). From seeing a gap in the market to having one of the most successful salons In Brisbane. In the early stages of setting up TMS what were some of the hurdles you had to overcome? Were there any standout moments where you had to pivot your business structure in order to stay inline to get ahead with competition?
Lulu: We wanted to enter the market ahead of the game by really honouring and rewarding the hard work and skill that goes into being a hairdresser. We did this by structuring our business so that all of our hairdressers were contractors on a generous profit split! This definitely made us appealing over other salons as a place to work.
Jords: A lot of salons are catching up now and offering the same deal so we are actually currently in the process of a making a few tweaks in order to remain competitive.
You now run TMS out of the Array House, a hub that offers a variety of beauty services alongside epic coffee and food. Are there any noticeable perks of changing from a stand alone business to working closely with other businesses in complementing industries? What made you decide to take this direction in creating a collective like this?
Lulu: When we outgrew our first location in Red Hill we found ourselves super underwhelmed by all of the commercial properties that would have suited a small expansion! At this time we were constantly Cross referring clients between a little circle of businesses we had become quite friendly with! This sparked the idea of Array! To us, being Array was our point of difference to all the other stand alone salons.
Jords: Array is exactly what we had hoped! It’s super vibey all the time and really fun to work around 20 like minded people all doing what they love! Practically, it was a good move. It empowered us to get a huge space but at a split cost and also split the cost of a lot of set up expenses!
What advice would you give to other women who aren’t feeling fulfilled in their current job or degree who have a creative side passion? I always hear people say “just do it or just start” but I feel like this advice is easier said than done. Could you share with us three steps you took in the early days that really made you stop and say “wow we are making something here”?
Lulu: To someone with a side passion, look at what you have managed to create whilst also juggling another job! Imagine how great you could make that if you put all your time into it! We added up how much we make each week from the clients we already had and we committed to rent we could afford only having these clients! Three steps we took that made us have that ‘omg this is something’ thought were…
(1) Looking for a bigger space before our first lease even ended
(2) When being so busy with clients became the issue (rather than being too quiet)
(3) When we realised we could afford to stock multiple product ranges when at the start one was daunting!
Jords: Finances are obviously the biggest road block between you and your business. Be creative with how you structure your business in order to start with the least overheads possible. Having contractors meant we didn’t need to worry about paying people when money wasn’t coming in.
One of the most hard hit industries during the last year has been beauty and hair. What are some of the struggles you have faced during this time and have you adapted any areas within TMS to deal with this?
Lulu: At the time of the first lockdown we were super grateful for the situation we were in. All of our contractors (and us) qualified for job keeper meaning money wasn’t a stress for us or our staff. At the time, although we didn’t have the most flexible or understanding landlord, our rent was super affordable for our business so that was not a stress. All of the brands we used, such as Loreal and Eleven, were super lovely and extended our accounts meaning we had longer than usual to pay bills.
Jords: We learnt a few important lessons during this time. Covid made us realise we were not at all supported by our Accountant and this pushed us to find an Accountant who was really obviously invested in the success of our business. This is where we developed the theory, ‘if you’re not raving about your Accountant you need a new one!’. At the time we were also in a lease with a pretty unsupportive Landlord. When signing our new lease we signed with a Landlord who we got a really positive and supportive vibe from. Now we would never sign a property where we had a gut bad feeling about a landlord! The bigger and more complicated your business becomes, the more you’ll find yourself leaning on your landlord for who knows what! So I guess what we learnt is that a good accountant and a good landlord will really elevate your business!
Have you got any future goals for TMS in the next few years?
Lulu: A short term goal for us is to nail the tweaks to how we structure paying and supporting our staff. We hope that the result of this is attracting more staff so we can fill our space!
Jords: A long term goal for us is branching out of the services industry into goods! It’s an idea we have had since day one of our salon… more specifically (still vague though sorry) but we are hoping to solve a problem we encountered in our set up! Stay tuned!!
Before we let you go, we have to ask the experts; what are your top three favourite, can’t live without hair products?
1. Virtue Healing Oil
2. Eleven Miracle Treatment
1. Eleven Dry Texture Spray
2. Fabuloso Platinum Blonde Conditioner