Business Education

Staying Relevant in an Ever-Changing World

November 09, 2022

It’s easy to get swept up in being ahead of the pack, looking to the future and working with the next generation.

But it’s important not to forget the heritage of the industry, what it offered and what we can learn from the past. We speak to two brands that have an incredible history in the industry – and how they are taking their lessons from the past to secure a successful future.

Stephen Nurse is the Operations Director at the Daniel Galvin salon in central London. The salon opened in 1978 and the team work closely with L’Oréal Professionnel through their shows and education.

“When Daniel first opened the salon in the 1970s, the industry was energetic, fast moving and incredibly creative. British hairdressing was perceived as being the best and genuinely a global leader far ahead of anywhere else. There were no other salons like Daniel Galvin; Daniel very much wanted to be the first standalone colourist to open a salon and give professional hair colour equal status to hairdressing. This might be the norm now, but back then the focus had never been on colourists.

In fact, in many ways the industry is unrecognisable from the 1970s and 1980s. I think the biggest contribution to that is social media, in particular Instagram, as a platform for hairdressers

to showcase their work and attract new clients. But, at its core it’s still the same. Ultimately, it’s always been about making people look good and feel better about themselves whilst receiving great service.

As a salon with a big heritage, it’s important to stay relevant and because we train from within, every year we get an influx of new talented assistants who bring with them a fresh dynamic, new ideas and modern thinking. By harnessing and developing the youth keeps us all fresh and relevant. Therefore, the team and the business is constantly evolving.


Stephen’s tips for staying successful:

When you’ve been open for many years it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day running of the business. However, it’s super important to occasionally step away from the business and look at it from afar with a fresh perspective. 

It’s important to get the opinion of others, team members, clients and really listen to what they have to say. 

Take inspiration from other service industries, restaurants, hotels and any environment where you are made to feel special. What are they doing that hits those emotions that you’re not focusing on?

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Nathan’s advice for moving forward and staying relevant and excusing:

Ask yourself constantly, are we sticking to a formula because it worked once? Are we afraid of taking risks? Are others overtaking because of their fresh outlook? If the answer is yes it’s time to go back to your roots and remember the gamble and the chance you took when starting out. 

Refresh and encourage ideas from much less experienced team members, their outlook is easily accessible and free from fear. What is their vision of the future? How can that help shape the future of your team and brand?

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Trevor Sorbie opened his first salon in 1979 and now has six salons around the UK and one in Dubai. Nathan Walker is the Brand and Education Director and is a regular backstage at shows and seminars with L’Oréal Professionnel, as well as working with the creative team on their own innovative collections.

In 1979 the industry was in such an experimental juncture. The idea of unisex salons, hair designers, fashion designers and the link between ground-breaking fashion designers like Vivian Westwood, Zandra Rhodes and the music of both alternative and pop music making an impact on how people sought to express their identity was totally new. It was a very exciting time and has been unparalleled since.

Trevor was at the height of his career and wanted to bring new ideas and boundary-pushing cuts and colour to those who had a creative edge. He opened in an area of London undergoing regeneration – the now famous Covent Garden –home to many creatives in various industries, especially fashion due to the really attractive leases to tempt creatives and unique businesses to the area.

This formula has been followed time and time again in various parts of London and the rest of the country and of course is now the norm to walk down a street full of creative, independent stores.

Trevor’s aim was simple, to do what he loved and bring that to those who identified with his unreserved edge. The rest of the concept really follows. Whether it was then or now, being the best at what you do means constant invention.

This invention leads to peer recognition, strengthening the drive to continue to be the best. but ultimately the aim has and will always be to make people look and feel amazing.

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The industry is a very different place today – technology has shrunk the world and lead times, making trends almost impossible to identify. Seasonal looks are not universal and life is a lot more instantaneous and fast. As a business that has lived through both eras, we have never rested on our laurels. To be exciting and relevant is about minimising the fear of failure; you only move forward if you take risk. If not you will stagnate and become irrelevant.

By taking chances and nurturing future talent you maintain the relevance and you keep the edge, which is the part of your business that sets you out from others. It’s worth noting this philosophy has produced more hairdressers that have gone on to be British Hairdresser of the Year than any other company!

I remember Trevor telling me that he thought there was a spark of something he could see in me. He made it clear that to grow this and to be the best I could be involved my investment in myself. He said “We can give you all the training and the knowledge from our experience but what we need, what you can give is your time.” No company actually makes future stars, it starts by attracting the team with drive, dedication and ambition. We have always held true – you can’t train attitude.