Lucindale's Hairdressing Success Story
"In the country, loyalty is everything."
On any given day, Mel Gear opens the back of her house up to serving the hair and beauty needs of the country ladies of Lucindale, South Australia. But these aren’t everyday clients – they’re now Mel’s friends. It’s like having a roster of mates who drop in for coffee and see the kids, Mel shares. Geared Up, Mel’s salon, has grown from humble beginnings. “I started off with a deck chair and mirror in my backyard.” And today, she operates two salons under the same name – one on her property in Lucindale and the other in Beachport.
After settling in Lucindale (and marrying a farmer), Mel felt a responsibility to transfer her beauty speciality to hairdressing and offer a hybrid service to the women folk of Lucindale. “I’ve created a little one-stop-shop and the community loves it. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. There’s just so much variety in hairdressing and, of course, I like to have fun. I get to do what I’m passionate about, in my salon on this beautiful farm.” It’s certainly not a bad problem to have and Mel has adjusted her business to suit their needs. “I now just go into Beachport once a week and work long hours to fit everyone in.”
“When I worked in Adelaide, there was always someone who else who would walk in the door. But here, you have to be quite open-minded. You have to be happy to fix the hair or the relationship, if something was to go wrong,” Mel advises. She pays this notion of loyalty forward, as a long-time client of Jeval. “I started using Jeval colours about seven years ago, and since I’ve adopted the entire range in my two salons. I was drawn to the colours because they didn’t have that pungent smell and the colours are so true to palette.”
“Back in 2015, I noticed people were starting to make a change towards natural products, so I made it my hero collection. They offer a great size for an affordable price, so it’s valuable from a business perspective, too.” Mel loves to whip out her favourite products like the volumising spray, ice mouse, the leave-in treatments and everyday shampoos. And with the merger of the Co-Op and Beautopia, Mel is now able to get all her salon supplies from the one place... and even faster!
“I joined some 15 years ago when I entered the industry and I’ve been a happy customer ever since. To be honest, you were the only wholesaler willing to give me a go. No one else would, because I was only a little salon. Whether I spent $20 or $200,000, the reps were always happy to come to me. I’ll never forget this level of service.” Seeing, feeling and smelling the new products the rep brings allows Mel to make more informed decisions, from a creative and business perspective. And it’s this VIP touch that keeps her bursting schedule so prosperous.
“That’s the beauty of this industry, especially in a country town. We all help each other,” Mel adds. “If you’re passionate, good at what you do and want to help people, the business will sell itself.” Oh, and have fun. Mel, as “a bit of an 80’s girl”, loves to get down to body perms, the beehive style, and mermaid waves. “What hairdresser doesn’t love volume”, she laughs.