Julie – owner of JPS Hair and Beauty, and I sat down in her pedicure lounge with a coffee and cheesecake and had a chat. This lady boss who is celebrating 19 years in her salon was modest in telling “her” story.
“I mean, it’s not just me this is my sister tribe. Lots of people make this salon.”
Start at the beginning, tell the story of your salon.
The salon started when I began my apprenticeship. The salon was the Cutting Crew, at Banyo. The owner had salons at Banyo and Wynnum. Within a few months I was winding perms and giving $5.00 haircuts. My boss recognized that I could work by myself and she would drive me out to her Wynnum salon. I was a few months off qualifying when she dropped the bomb, she was moving overseas for an extended period of time. I had mixed feelings about it, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. So I went home and I begged, I begged if I could buy the salon. I went from bank to bank to bank and I finally purchased the salon. I was nineteen. She fast tracked the last few months of my apprenticeship so I could own the salon. It was my baby. My boyfriend at the time had a Harvey Norman franchise and he worked up to 7 days a week, so we worked and worked and worked. We were young, it was all we had so we just put everything in to the businesses.
Julie saw growth in the suburb of her home, grabbed it with both hands and started another successful salon that she built from scratch.
I was driving between the two salons at this point, we were married, no kids.
The second salon was so successful that in less than 12 months, she employed a management team and an offer came through for Julie to sell.
I was solely at Wynnum when I had my first bubby- Roamie. We then purchased Morayfield – yeah Wynnum and Morayfield are a long way apart. I was working 9am til 9pm, starving hungry, nowhere to stop and eat, and crying baby in the back of the car. When we took over at Morayfield, it had been established for a decade and came with a great reputation. I will never forget the day I took over, I parked out the back and the girls came running at me for big hugs, I had never met these girls before.
Within that first week, I was violently ill and pregnant, with Luca. So I was building two salons with a one year old and pregnant again.
We love the chaos and craziness.
When Luca came, we had the front room of the salon as a childcare room, rather than putting him in child care we employed a child care worker. There was swing, cot, change table, it was all glassed in and had air-conditioning, she would look after not only my baby but anyone else who bought babies into the salon. I was still breastfeeding. I always found it important to show my girls that you can work and have a family and I felt strongly about breastfeeding. I still wanted to be able to give that to the boys. There was always a breast pump out the back if the boys weren’t here or if they were I was always feeding and I wanted that to be part of everyday life. When Luca was two and a half I approached the man next door to the Wynnum salon and said this is all too much now I can’t keep driving from Burpengary to Wynnum. He had always said if I wanted to sell to approach him first because we watched for 10 years how I built up the business. And so within a few weeks he took over.
Julie’s savvy business skills were on full alert again when a couple of years later the madness and hunger to conquer the world took over again and she saw a prime opportunity to open a salon at Murrumba Downs.
There was only one salon in the suburb and they were building a new Coles complex. We went and bought off the plan. There was countless problems, plumbing problems, building problems, budget problems. But we built a stunning salon, a year later we built another salon in another complex at Woodford. So now we had three salons.
I do all of this buy putting on a few different hats, making lists, I suppose when you are used to a lifestyle it is just that. At times it can get really overwhelming definitely.
Julie distributed her time between each salon, she spent other days doing stock, payroll, and all of the behind the scenes responsibilities of running three salons and being a mum and wife. We were approached by a broker who wanted to purchase all of our salons. But you know, while the kids are in school it is so flexible with our lifestyle and being around for the kids. We decided to stay in business and so they purchased just Murrumba downs. Shortly after that, the Woodford shopping centre owners pursued us, wanting the Woodford salon. So for two years we have just the one salon. I am here for my kids and seeing my boys succeed is everything. In sport or just at home, seeing my kids at home scootering around the driveway, free as birds. That makes me feel very, very special. Also seeing them accomplish things, you know cooking for themselves, them cleaning up makes me very happy. It’s the little things. I think with kids you want them to experience things, you know not just one off, if they experience something over and over and over they will get really good at it, I mean that is with the bad things too. If they come into a situation where something bad could happen or they have had set backs in their training, they sometimes get hurt, you know this builds resilience. They have experienced this, they are prepared for it mentally and physically.
Julie’s passion for teaching and encouraging not only includes her children but “her girls” too.
We have 15 girls here in the salon. Beauty therapists and hairdressers. It is perfect. I love coming to work, I do school hours. I drop the boys off and then am there to do school pick up. I am so content at the moment.
So my girls. Rachel has been here since the day we took over. So 11 years. Majority of the girls have been here for five years. Jasmine is our manager at the front desk, having her as host gives me the opportunity to look after my clients and mentor the other girls. Help them, support them, counsel them. Because you know, sometimes we are not having the best day and other times we are absolute rock stars. We often have binge food days but you know we all do it together. We have good days and bad days, that goes with being a woman, we have a lot of Panadol in the back room, we are here for each other, this is my sister tribe. Lots of people make this salon, it is not just me. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for every single person. All of this still happens even when I am not here, which is what I love.
I am getting enjoyment out of seeing the girls grow up, one of our babies just became qualified. Apprentices make the salon run, they are the salon, they keep us young, they keep everyone in coffee and their hair washing skills and the scalp massages are amazing. We get so much out of having them as a part of the salon. I will always have apprentices. The girls love to mentor, they love having an assistant, someone to help them. Our latest newly qualified hairdresser, she started when she was 15, as a school based apprentice. We got her through high school together, she graduated, had her formal, became full-time and now she is a qualified hairdresser, she has moved out of home, has a lovely boyfriend, she is woman. I am so amazed, I love seeing the full circle.
My joy – oh seeing what those girls can create – when I see the girls photos of their work, if I haven’t been there for the day or I have been stuck in the office and I see the styles they have created, it is everything, amazing, my girls are so talented.
I feel like they stay because of appreciation, everyone wants to be appreciated, I give them flexibility in their roles, I provide the tools and they can be free to create. We have a great team, a great connection. I don’t stand over them, I just let them go for it – most people flourish with that, sometimes it doesn’t suit them. I am about encouragement and motivation, leading by example, by showing them what I love about the industry. You know I try and keep it fun, most of the time I’m the jokester. Hairdressers are creators so they just flourish with all that encouragement. You know after we consult a client it’s always like, “I am about to do this colour what do you think?” and we bounce off each other. I am passionate about hair, they see that. I am always doing crazy stuff with my hair and they see that confidence, just to try and pull of anything. I want to show that to my customers also! That they can be confident in me. I always love to try what’s new. I mean we started using Olaplex 9 months before it was in Australia. We were importing it. The industry changes, trends change. We want to keep updated and offer that to our clients. We love to do a bit of advanced beauty.
Julie encourages her team to be open and creative, she embraces new ideas and trends.
The feather brows – oh god they are just stunning, the girls are so talented with feather brows. Some of our team came to us and said “oh look at this!” – I was like “yeah this is awesome how can we be the best at this”. That was a couple of years ago and it has boomed. We also offer laser tattoo removal, we have a class 4 laser remover, which is a medical grade laser to remove tattoos. We love to push the envelope and get great results with hair and beauty. Another one of my passions is hair extensions. I have flown around the world by myself investigating and from that I have created my own hair extension range. Whenever I have used hair extensions there is always something wrong with them, be it a shedding problem, or hair matting, or the tape wasn’t sticky enough, or the hair wasn’t the best quality, or wasn’t long enough. In the end I made my own. I don’t have any of those problems. We use absolutely stunning Russian hair, beautiful quality hair extensions that I have designed from the very beginning and are exactly what I have always wanted. We were provided with samples and often the samples weren’t right either, so I would send them back, outlining exactly what I wanted fixed. Everything from the hair, the tape, the length, weight, everything – I was fussy with. I wanted these to be just right. I have done this for so many years – these needed to be perfect. I have designed everything the packaging the name – Lucia. This is what I wanted my daughter’s name to be if I had one. So this is my baby. The whole process has been two years. Not being happy with the quality or the price lead me to investigating, trialling, having multiple salons and wanting the best. I love investigating and trying things and I want the quality.
I feel everyone has a certain amount of energy and if you channel it into the right things then you are going to go so far.
And if it’s not channelled it can be really destructive and you can get quiet depressed because you have you have no channel, no direction. I channel that energy, keep focused. When it all feels too much and I am overwhelmed I will go up to the beach – the Sunshine Coast. It completely clears my mind, it files everything where it needs to go, it cleans out all the clutter and I get completely refocused and hungry for more. Every couple of weeks I have to go to the beach. It is my thing – it is my drug. My husband also helps keep me focused, he is a business man, he is so smart, and I have always wanted to be like him ever since I met him. He has always been really focused, he then keeps me focused and holds really high standards. He helps me late at night, he is the handyman. He is here fixing washing machines and dryers and painting and renovating and making my visions come to fruition. When I have a vision of something I want to create, he’ll tell me it can’t work, but oh yes it does.
Like my green wall, I wanted a green wall – I got my green wall, or I am going to take my team to Vegas and we did.
Last year we created our own bi-annual education event called JPS retreat, rather than go to Vegas. We hired two beautiful mansions at Stradbroke Island, we flew in prominent educators and had three days in a nice relaxed environment and learnt new techniques and styles. We bought in Penny Antuar a make-up artist. The beauty therapists perfected all new techniques with make-up over two days. The hair side of things we had – Belinda Keeley from Melbourne, motivational speaking and colour placement with the girls was her specialty. My idol Lorna Evans – the up style queen, she showed us amazing braids and up styles, how to sew hair, sew an up style with cotton wool.
Julie wears so many hats, wife, mum, business owner, mentor, creator. What is next for this lady?
You never know with me, there is always so magic in the air.