Last month, Aveda Congress drew a record-breaking 4,500 beauty professionals to Minneapolis to celebrate the brand's 40th anniversary and partake in a three days full of education. The event’s theme, “Know What We’re Made Of,” put the brand’s founding principles front and center through both presentations and artistic expression, including using high-performing, naturally-derived ingredients, abiding by a cruelty-free, no animal testing policy and following an environmental mission.
In the midst of a jam-packed weekend, American Salon sat down with April Anslinger, Aveda's newly-named senior vice president and general manager, to discuss how she aligns herself with those very principles, how Congress plays an influential role in the next generation of hairdressers and how she plans to develop the brand's legacy moving forward.
AS: Why did you choose Aveda?
AA: Even when I was young, it was a brand that was always a part of my life; I saved money when I didn't have it to buy Aveda products, and then when I was running other haircare businesses in my former position, I constantly dreamt of being part of Aveda. I couldn't imagine working for a brand that had such an authentic mission and had such a high-quality product on top of that—that's a true brand builder's dream.
AS: Why is it important for you to align yourself with a brand that has an ethos of giving back?
AA: If you're an obsessed brand builder and you have a brand that is so authentic in what they do, it makes your job much more interesting because you have something meaningful to talk about. When you're trying to convey that mission and those values to consumers, it becomes more like story-telling and less like advertising. Better yet, it's all based on facts; I never have to say 'so, how am I going to spin this?' Secondly, I have two small children and they're coming home from school and talking about things in a way that none of us ever did. I truly believe they will change the world from a kindness perspective, and from a taking-care-of-the-world perspective, so the fact that I work with a brand that can help impact that is amazing.
AS: How does Congress guide Aveda in educating and inspiring today’s and the next generation of hairdressers?
AA: This is my first Congress with the brand, and one thing I've heard over and over again is 'Wow, I've fallen back in love with Aveda.' I think if a hairdresser has been in the network for a while, Congress plays a part in making it all exciting again. If a hairdresser is younger and learning about it and they have lots of brands telling them that they're doing certain things, they now know for certain that Aveda is the real deal.
AS: How will you develop the brand’s legacy going forward?
AA: Most importantly, I want the consumer to really know our story and why we do what we do. Then, I want those consumers to believe in us and have the same love for the brand and the same inspiration to give back. The bigger our platform is, the more we can do to help change the world we live in.
AS: If there’s one thing you want stylists to remember most about Aveda, what would that be?
AA: We're the real deal.