ENTERPRISING JOURNEYS

Be bold, be brave and back your staff

Victoria Rushby

Intuition The Art of Hair

The Business

INTUITION – The Art of Hair (2017)

The Founders

Victoria Rushby

The Concept

An environment where stylists can grow, clients are welcomed, relationships are formed and amazing hair is created.

The Best Part

I adore the training, apprenticeship, and career development aspects of it. It’s where passion meets purpose.”

The Biggest Learning

“In the early stages I did go through failures and challenges and I came to realise it all comes down to your own personal development. If I’m not at my best, then I can’t be the best for my team.”

The Vision

“When I was younger, I always knew I was going to own a hair salon and when the opportunity to buy Intuition finally arose, I went all in. And then, bless my husband, he ended up selling his car because, right at the end, they needed a bond.”

Victoria Rushby became a small business owner when she was 23.
“And looking back I think, God, I had no fear, the thought of doing that now – it’s just mind boggling to me, but gosh im proud of that ambition,” the Mackay business owner says now, seven years later.

When Rushby purchased INTUITION: The Art of Hair in 2017, the regional Queensland salon had four employees and measured 60m2.

But then she did something else incredibly gutsy.

Just three years after the purchase, and as covid was wreaking havoc on service businesses across the world, Rushby made the bold decision to expand, relocating to a space three times the size.

“All I could see were my goals and my vision and nothing else was getting in the way, not even a world health crisis,” she says.

“Many businesses around us were making drastic changes like closing or laying off staff but I refused to entertain that idea. We went all in. I remember we had to split the team into two – Team A and Team B – so that if someone on one team got covid, the other team could still work.

“It was definitely an uncertain time but we faced it all head-on and I believe it’s a perfect example of the power of mindset.

“Instead of allowing fear and worry to consume you, you have to embrace discomfort to grow, as terrifying as it may seem.”

She now has 14 staff members, which she says are a large part of her motivation in running the business.

Intuition takes on a new apprentice about every six months and it takes about three years to complete their apprenticeship.

Of the team, all except three began at the salon as apprentices and two of them are now in the management team.

The Team

When it comes to staff, it’s important to sit down, listen and really understand what motivates them, Rushby says.

She says it’s about appreciating their goals and working together to achieve them.

“At the moment within the hairdressing industry, hiring staff and keeping staff is quite hard with the way the economy is and sometimes people’s financial situation can outweigh their passion,” she says.

“What I find works really well for me is at the beginning of each year we sit down and have a brand meeting where we really put together what we want the year to look like at Intuition and what we want to achieve as a team and individually.

“I reflect on what I want to achieve for the business and as the owner and this helps me make sure all of our visions align and we are on the right path as a whole.

“So it’s not about, here you go, there’s a pay rise. It’s deeper than that. It’s more where can we grow and what can we both do to get you to this point to be happy within your position.”

A recent partnership with a leading hair products company means that her staff are able to travel to meet with and learn from other leading hair stylists across the country, so they’re constantly updating their skills and on-trend looks.

The Owner, not The Labourer

Rushby says too many business-owners get trapped working for their business.

“I want to spend more time working on the business than in it,” she says, pointing to the fact she’s been able to triple its annual income in seven years.

While working full time “on the tools” was financially necessary after expanding the business in 2020, she says she had a “wow moment” where she realised she needed to change the way she ran things and adopt a more strategic focus.

Since then, she’s slowly scaled down her days working as a stylist to dedicate more time managing, training and building strong foundations of operation so she could step away completely while on maternity leave.

The ‘Little Shiny Moments’

“Taking this time on leave has truly shone light on what I’ve built in such a short span and I couldn’t be prouder of the wonderful relationships within my team. The way they communicate, collaborate, and support each other is nothing short of incredible and it’s regularly noted by our clients. It’s clear the ethos of what I’ve created is working,” she says.

Rushby has recently concentrated on ensuring her team gets the recognition she thinks they deserve and the salon was last year lucky enough to be finalists for the Queensland Hair Salon of the Year at the Australian Hairdressing Industry Awards and finalist for the Australian Small Business Champions.

She herself was also nominated as a finalist for the Australian Young Small Business Entrepreneur category.

Having her regional Mackay salon place so highly against finalists from Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast was a “little shiny moment”, she says.

“At the beginning of each year when I sit down and go back over my 12-month, five-year, 10-year goals, I think about what that looks like. It’s really motivating me and inspiring me to think, wow, this is only the beginning.”

‘If i can do it, anyone can’: words of wisdom

Hire slow: “I’ve had stages where we’ve grown really quickly, we’re super busy and I needed to find someone. What a great problem to have. But it’s backfired because I have jumped the gun and not properly considered whether the person is right for the job. I’ve put so much work into this team and maintaining my high standards is just as important as growing.”

Be the boss: “I feel like that’s where a lot of business owners do go wrong when they become more of a labourer than an actual owner.”

Work on your own knowledge gaps: “I remember I went to my accountant and said I wanted to buy a hair salon, and he said: ‘Are you a good hairdresser?’ And I said: ‘Yes, I think so’. And he said: ‘That doesn’t mean you’ll be a good business owner. You need to know your numbers, you need to know how your business operates, you need to be smart’. He said: ‘You’re not just there to cut hair and make money’.”

Be ambitious: “I’ve taken a lot of risks in business that have paid off but I’ve also taken risks too that haven’t and I think that’s how you learn and grow. You’ve got to just have that ambition to be like, you know what, if it doesn’t work out, that’s okay, I’ll find a new way.”

Get help: “Something I learned early on was if you’re not good at something, you need to outsource. So I brought on someone who is absolutely incredible and she’s helped us really build up the marketing aspects of the business.”

“It’s not all glitz and glam. If it was easy, everyone would do it.”

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