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Casey Kent, Owner, Sage Hair

Casey Kent, Owner of Sage Hair hairdressing salon in Longreach is an experienced business woman who firmly believes that a collaborative leadership style and emphasis on continuous professional development for all staff underpins a healthy culture and the success of any business.

Casey puts her rural community firmly at the heart of Sage Hair, and makes it a priority for her team to stay abreast of the latest trends and techniques, understanding that although her clients may live rurally, they are keenly aware of and quick to embrace global fashions.

How have you grown a business in a rural area, and how has it gone from strength to strength in the year of COVID-19?

Growing a business in a rural area is about understanding what your customers want. In my industry this means staying up to date with the latest trends, styles and techniques. People living rurally and remotely almost seem to have an extra drive for this, as a trip to the hairdresser is a treat and often an experience after several hours drive to get to town. We have really cutting edge customers that aren’t afraid to take a risk. 

During the pandemic I found it extremely important to look at all the different dynamics of Sage Hair, especially the parts that felt a little mundane and were almost done on auto-pilot. So instead we have to innovate, change our business practice and increase our customer communication, plus stay abreast of all of the daily changes in rules and regulations.

We were able to access education via zoom and digital seminars, which is something we will adopt more permanently into the future. Overall I spent this time really reflecting on my business, our plans for the future and how to be more agile to adapt and pivot quickly to new challenges. 

The business may have financially declined during COVID, but we gained strength in our business model through spending time on professional development, being able to reflect on the business, see what was working, and change what wasn’t.

What are the latest hairdressing trends and how does your team’s professional development ensure you keep on top of trends?

Professional development drives your business, and keeps your staff engaged and up to date.

 Some of the latest hair trends are:

  • Multidimensional colours
  • Bold, blunt cuts
  • Return of layers
  • Close cut pixie crops
  • Bold, bright colours
  • Curtain bangs – (like Farrah Fawcett)

Sage Hair use the very latest products, Kerastase and Matrix. Globally their education is number one. Every week, we are training, using the latest techniques and trends from them. Kerastase also offer a lot of business training, which is awesome. It’s helps to keep me motivated business wise and focussed on my business, although I love nothing better than being immersed in my business dealing directly with customers. 

How has your background in owning a building business and managing a student hostel made SAGE Hair a successful business?

With the building business, it was a family business, that we started from scratch. I ran the student hostel at the same time. You learn a lot in the first 2 years of owning your own business. You make mistakes, you realise you’re not in this alone, you network and you develop tools and strategies that suit your business and your life. All of this information and knowledge then gets transferred into future business ventures.

In all of the businesses I have been involved with staff, and their wellbeing and growth is the core of success. One of my key beliefs is treating staff the way that you want to be treated. If you empower your staff and treat them well, they will be engaged. I learnt this from Hair Moda in Rockhampton doing my apprenticeship. We had great leaders.

Conversely, I have seen in other environments that I have worked, if people are working with poor leadership and being treated poorly, they won’t be motivated to work, which has a negative impact on the business and engagement with customers. I am proud to have put 5 apprentices through my business and been able to support them on their professional and personal journeys.

What’s your leadership style and what is the culture of Sage Hair like?

Sage Hair is a team, and that’s my leadership style. Collaboration, mentoring, shared solution design. I like my staff to feel constantly empowered and motivated. I also give a directive when it’s needed.

We bounce off each other, and work closely together as a creative team, which I think is so important. It doesn’t just benefit my business but it flows through to my staff’s families and to our customers. Operating rurally, the wider community is an extension of your family and that has to be embedded in everything you do.

My team have been with me for years, and we’ve taken on another new apprentice recently, who wanted a career change from hospitality.

Lil, one of Casey’s staff members present at her interview added, “Casey leads by example. It’s a very open and safe environment to work in. She doesn’t do things by halves, which makes us all try to do the best we can as well. She always looks after us in the business and personally. That gives me the confidence to follow in her foot steps one day, and lead by example.”

Your greatest challenge?

Overcoming the fear of the unknown, being intimidated by all of the paperwork rules and regulation. Starting Sage Hair from scratch was confronting, but going on this journey and making mistakes along the way has built it into the thriving business it is today.

Most proud of?

Hands down it is my children. They inspire me everyday to do better and achieve more. I want to leave them the legacy of “hard work creates success”. That building your team builds your business.

Advice for future female leaders?

Empower others, believe in them it will pay you back a hundred fold. Listen to your gut and follow your dreams. Don’t let other people’s negativity steer you away from following that.

There is nothing that can’t be rebuilt.

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Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Founder

Mother, wife, daughter, determined dreamer. Lover of books. Background in Human Resources leadership in global organisations.