The beauty industry, like the rest of the world, is facing an unprecedented situation during the Coronavirus pandemic. Ulta Beauty Chief Artistic Director Ammon Carver has a few words of advice...
Many salons are uncertain whether they should close if they haven't been mandated to. What is Ulta Beauty's policy during this pandemic?
AC: We took the stance pretty early to make the health and safety of our associates, including our stylists, was first. Before we even closed doors to the stores, we stopped providing services. One of the things that’s been fantastic and fortunate is working for a corporation where we have the ability to extend health benefits and hourly wages and average commission behind the chair through our lockdown date. The plan is to provide it ongoing for as long as we can. The main priority is keeping people and jobs at the forefront of any strategies that we have. The vast majority of what we do is brick and mortar, especially in the services business. It was a big step but we felt it was the right thing to do, and to be the leaders and set an example. We wanted to give everyone the security of being home.
What are your tips for the beauty pro to stay connected and creative during a salon closure?
AC: I recommend four things.
1. Human interaction and relationships are so much more important than people realize. Hairdressers know that the relationships they have with their guests is sometimes the most important relationship that guest has in their life. They look forward to their appointment, and they share their monumental life moments with their beauty pro. Sometimes hairstylists can think of them strictly as clients, but it’s important to remember that they're real relationships. My advice is not only to stay connected by saying, “Hey, hang in there, come back and see me when we’re open,” but to reach out from a human angle, and say, “How are you doing, just checking in, I was thinking about you and our last appointment.” Reach out and make sure they feel thought about and remembered. That does have an impact on your vibe business-wise, but it’s more important to show that you care for them.
2. Most clients follow you on social media, so they know what you’re up to. If they see you’re spending this time keeping your skills sharp and learning and showing excitement to put the things you’re learning into action, they’ll be excited for their appointment. Show investment in education, do demos, share tips. Right now is a good time for what I like to call "hair rehab." Let’s talk about what we can do to get your hair back into its optimal condition while we’re in between visits, so the next time you want to go bleach blonde, I’m not like, sorry, it’s going to snap off!
3. Be creative with your social media posts. It doesn’t have to be all industry focused. I love this idea of doing hairstyling challenges with other artists. Reach out to other local artists and challenge them to recreate or build upon an upstyle. It’ll create a fun social media game to stay creative and connected.
4. Try to be helpful, not only to our beauty industry, but other local businesses. You can buy a gift card to a local restaurant, because it can help float revenue right now. Or buy that gift for someone now instead of later to help businesses stay afloat.
What are your thoughts on stylists helping clients do their own beauty services at home during salon closures?
AC: I will never ask any of my artists to get on social media and instruct guests on how to apply haircolor because we don’t want to cannibalize our business, but the reality is, when I look at the numbers of our online sales, box haircolor sales have gone up dramatically. Ulta Beauty is doing a livestream series with three to five people conversing on a specific topic. We’re strategizing fun and playful ways around that, phrasing it like: “So, you know I’d never recommend doing your haircolor at home, but given the fact that I see that you are, here are a few tips so you don’t create a big old mess that I’m going to have to clean up later.” It’s giving just enough education, that in no ways replace what a stylist can do. It’ll be fun, informational, inspiration, it’ll answer questions. It’ll be both consumer and stylist relevant. Our hope is that everyone gets encouraged.