IIAA has undergone a lot of changes recently. Which are you most proud of?
“We have launched a specialist skin research centre [which] will support our future expansion into new ingredient research to strengthen skin health outcomes.
“I’m also very proud of our new packing plant for Advanced Nutrition Programme. It’s climate controlled and gives us much more control over the materials used in our packaging. We were able to realise a dream of mine, which was to completely eliminate plastics – we’ve moved entirely to recyclable, biodegradable packaging that we designed ourselves, and we even use vegetable inks. The plant ensures the efficacy and integrity of the products.”
Skin supplements are becoming increasingly popular. What are you currently researching?
“We’re noticing a change in the way therapists think – more now understand that what their clients put in their mouths can be as important as what they apply topically.
“Research into the relationship between the gut biome and skin health is really stepping up but we’re very aware of separating the hype from reality, so we’re keen on looking at that, researching exactly what that relationship is and what we can do to influence it through our supplements.
“Our whole focus has been pushing the boundaries to empower the professional to deliver the best results for long-term skin health. It took four years to bring to market Skin Accumax [a natural supplement for acne-prone skins]. The results we’re seeing from supplements now are surpassing expectations, and our new research centre will allow us to measure these.”
What was the thinking behind the 100-day skin reset programme?
“Salons are challenged to put their clients on this 100-day journey and measure the skin at the start, along the way and at the end, implementing the right products and treatments from ANP and Environ, along with the Jane Iredale make-up best suited to the client.
“It’s not just about the results with this but about creating a journey for our salon accounts to in turn create a journey for their clients with long-term engagement.”
You recently made a number of senior appointments. What will these people bring to IIAA?
“What we’re trying to do is put the salon at the centre of everything we do. So, we created a new role, head of customer excellence, and appointed Gareth Durbridge, who was customer loyalty manager at Harrods. He’s got carte blanche to work with each department of the company to make sure that we’re client-focused. Our head of communications, Ewa Johnson, joined us from Vodaphone, and she’s the one who came up with the 100-day skin reset, among other inititatives.
“On our timeline of business development we’re into a new phase now where our client [the salon owner] is all important; it’s not just about the product. Historically, I think we were more product focused and now we’re shifting some of that focus onto the salons in order to help empower therapists to deliver the best results. For example, we just launched our Partnership Rewards Programme, where we’re working much more formally with our salons to assist them with their businesses.
“Salons are divided into bronze, silver and gold tiers and we support them to move up through the bandings, with benefits such as free training, improved retailing tools, business development events and staff incentive schemes.”
What do you think will be the impact of Brexit on the industry?
“Potentially, there could be a recession caused by Brexit. Either way, we’ll probably be in fairly low-growth territory for a long time, which will create difficult market conditions.
“In 2008, we saw how high-street businesses battled, so we’ll try to show our accounts how to remain successful when market conditions get tough. In that sort of environment, salons have to provide value for money in order for the business to survive, and for us, value for money has nothing to do with price. You need to engage clients and show them significant, measurable results, then you’ll start to change that purchase from discretionary to essential.”
What are the other key challenges facing salons right now?
“The sheer availability of products. Consumers are still moving away from high-street retail sales to online, so the only way therapists can combat that is by engaging clients and giving them that service with product recommendations and treatments that keep them on a journey and keep them coming back. That’s what we’re trying to do with the 100-day reset; it’s a framework for that. I think these sorts of structured initiatives are absolutely invaluable for the professional sector.
“A lot of therapists find the business side of salon life challenging. Most people enter this industry because they love the idea of treating skin; they’re therapists by nature and they just want to treat their clients and get great results.
“What they find out very soon is that they’re running complex businesses and most of their time is pulled away by things other than skincare. Therapists really have their hands full because often they have all the complexities of a large business and all the restraints of a small one. The challenge for us is to make their lives that much easier.
“Often therapists don’t put themselves forward as an expert, whether through lack of training or lack of confidence. Through our training centres we teach them that, in actual fact, selling is part of being an expert and educating their clients about skin health. A doctor doesn’t need to convince you to take the medicine they prescribe, and it shouldn’t be any different for therapists.”