In Sydney’s competitive hair and beauty landscape, Blow Bar Co’s blowdries and bubbles have become synonymous with special occasions and milestones. Despite the challenges of 2020, the company sealed a major partnership with retail giant David Jones to open a salon within its Elizabeth Street store in Sydney. And more recently, the business partnered with luxury beauty brand Givenchy for its makeup applications. Leigh Dole, founder and director of Blow Bar Co, discusses the move into D
o David Jones, how the beauty industry has evolved in recent years and the importance of connecting with customers. Inside Retail: Being in the beauty services industry, I imagine you develop a really intimate relationship with customers. What have been some of the most interesting insights that you’ve learnt about your female customers? I believe that the beauty industry has this wonderful opportunity to tap into women’s emotions and empower them, whether it be externally (physical appearance) or internally (making a woman look and feel her best from the inside out!). At Blow Bar Co, we thrive on establishing these deeper connections and emotional relationships with our clients…and as always, topping it off with a glass of bubbles! The staff at Blow Bar Co all have a really different and unique relationship with each client. Our salons can be a place to escape and divulge in that much needed 30 minute ‘me-time’ – and our midweek blows leave our clients with a spring in their step, before they inevitably have to step back into that day-to-day chaos we all experience! On the other hand, Blow Bar Co also celebrates the magical moments with our clients, such as weddings, engagements and birthdays. Sharing these special moments with our clients and making them look and feel their best is the most rewarding part of our job. IR: What do you think are some lessons that you think retail professionals could learn from the beauty services industry? LD: I truly believe the key to the beauty services industry is not just about providing a service, but establishing a deeper connection with your clients in order to provide not only the service at hand, but also the experience as a whole. There is something so powerful about looking and feeling your best and when this happens, you’re unstoppable! IR: How would you describe last year for Blow Bar Co and how has consumer sentiment changed during that time? LD: I learned a lot about myself, my staff and our clients during this crazy difficult time. Through the emotional rollercoaster and all the uncertainty, there was of course the silver lining – including watching my staff rise to the challenge and hearing the heartwarming stories of our customers. On a personal level, my Italian heritage came to the fore. I started the Blow Bar Co food truck to deliver homemade dinners and fruit and veg to the staff to help ease the stress. It’s been a special journey and my staff and I have grown together. What was once a place of celebrating joyous occasions has become a new meaning and purpose for Blow Bar Co. It became, more than ever, an escape, a mental release. Often when seeing a client inside Blow Bar during the height of the crisis, I would ask ‘How are you?’ only to be glanced at with an eye full of tears. For me, this highlighted the true depth of looking at the beauty industry and reflecting on what it does for women. During what was a horrific time for most, Blow Bar Co could be a space to give back to yourself and feel an escape from the challenges faced during these times – even if it was for only 30 mins. IR: Tell me about what makes the Blow Bar concept so unique and why it suits today’s consumer. LD: As an all-inclusive club for women offering everything from exceptional style to champagne and cheese plates, makeup and massages, we share all the moments of a woman’s life – from big birthdays to weddings, to a personal celebration of someone’s life. It’s a place where you can relax, celebrate, or simply connect with other brilliant women in a beautiful way. Blow Bar Co is a look good and feel good space – it’s about loving yourself from the inside out and giving back to yourself. Whether it is an escape for an hour out of your day, the killer blow dry that puts a spring back in your step, or the glass of bubbles to celebrate an occasion. We are an affordable beauty service and experience for everyone. We don’t offer maintenance – the space is simply always there to make you feel and look good. IR: Blow Bar was previously a standalone salon, but now that you’re in David Jones on Elizabeth Street in Sydney. What has that experience been like for the business? LD: Partnering with Australia’s leading department store, David Jones, has been such an exciting time for myself and the Blow Bar Co team. The collaboration has taught me a lot and has allowed for great opportunities to work alongside other extraordinary Australian brands, including Givenchy Beauty which is now our exclusive makeup partner … and it’s just one of the many exciting partnerships ahead! Opening a salon within a department store has also expanded our Blow Bar Co customer market not only geographically, but demographically. David Jones Sydney CBD customers are in a retail mindset, whether it be a cheeky glass of bubbles with a blow dry, or a bag of NAK Hair products to keep their look on-point. Customers are there for the experience and aren’t hesitant to lap up every minute of it. IR: Tell me more about the Givenchy partnership and how that came about. LD: Givenchy is a brand like no other – the history, the gowns, the fashion, and now the beauty. It has been so exciting for Blow Bar Co to partner with such an iconic, international brand. Givenchy Beauty is relatively new to the Australian market, and with Blow Bar Co encompassing a complete experience, from hair styling to make up, the partnership was the perfect match. IR: Blow Bar is a hybrid of different retail experiences. How do you think the beauty business has evolved in recent years and what do customers now want? LD: The beauty industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Players are constantly innovating and diversifying their products and services. I am a strong believer in finding a niche in the market, sticking to it and executing it to the highest of standards. There are so many amazing ideas and creative concepts being developed every day, so focusing on your specialised offering (and sticking to it) is really important. Australian women want a personalised, professional service delivered with a side of fun. What sets Blow Bar Co apart is our ability to provide expert services while understanding the escape-from-reality experience we bring to our clients. We’re continually striving to provide the highest quality services whilst creating an environment for relaxation and fun.