A message from Alline Salon Group CEO Mike Sarafa:
What a remarkable year. I don’t necessarily mean remarkably good or bad—although there was much of both—but rather, what a consequential year. We won’t know until enough time goes by for history to tell its story, but I feel like we could be living in a moment of generational change. Somedays, I think the phrase the “new normal” misses the point. The new normal may simply be a more constant pace of ongoing change.
In the value segment of the salon industry, there has been great change. For decades, the industry has adapted to gradual shifts in hair style, frequency of visits and retail trends. But an international pandemic pushed these forces into supersonic overdrive. Colliding all at once are changes in consumer behavior, a supply side challenge (having enough stylists), and a shift to internet shopping, even for beauty and home care items.
These epic shifts will take time to run their course. Meanwhile, we can manage through them, restructure around them and adjust our business model accordingly. Still, one cannot order a haircut on Amazon, and I see no other existential threat to our industry.
Rather, I believe the biggest lift we face as an industry is intrinsic. Some of the allure of the salon world – the glamour – has worn off. ‘Wear a mask, take out the lobby chairs, wait in the parking lot, I can’t hug you.’ These are highly unnatural things for our industry, and no doubt have taken a toll.
The 2022 mission for Alline Salon Group and across the industry is to put the fun back into the salon. Historically, salon spaces are one of the great safe spaces in America. Like the theme song from Cheers, a salon is “a place where everyone knows your name.” Clean, safe, and with trained, skilled, and welcoming staff, salons are a space where you can go for a reprieve from your day and in very little time leave feeling and looking great. The movie Barbershop exemplifies the salon or barbershop as a cornerstone of the community—a place to catch up on the latest news and tell a few good stories. If pizza is the ultimate comfort food, a salon is the ultimate comfort space.
My hope is that we see these things start to come back to in 2022. We will adjust to the seismic shifts in the economy, the next variant and whatever else comes. We always do. More importantly, we need to get back to the things that make our company and our industry stand out. It’s the little things that make a salon great. A warm smile, a needed shoulder, a listening ear, a great new look, a no judgement zone, the gift of time, a little bit of love.
With Christmas upon us, I leave you with maybe the greatest example of the importance of little things for Christians and non-Christians alike. The story about the birth of Jesus happens not in a great city like Jerusalem, but a small town in Bethlehem, not in a castle, but a manger. Just as Baby Jesus came to Earth in smallness and humility, we are reminded that life is not about epoch-making gestures, but rather small daily actions that touch the lives of others in consequential ways.
In my professional career, I have never witnessed the ability to impact client lives more profoundly than inside of the space of a salon. In the New Year, let us pledge together to restore our salon spaces to the community gathering places they are meant to be. Then we will get a little bit of that glamour back in our lives.