The Summit Social | Issue Six
Salon Partner / Candyce Fiessel @candyfiessel
Shear Escape Salon | The Style Academy
Photos / Karen Hamdorf @karen.hamdorf.photo
Sales Consultant / Michelle Eliese @michelleeliese
Hair / Kirk | TSA Educator @styleacademyyqr
Make-Up / Becca Gurski @beccagurskimua
Skirt / Dean Renwick deanrrenwick.ca
Art Direction / @jladean
Countless stylists and barbers have expressed that the human element is their favorite part of the industry – a passionate community coming together to create beauty and inspiration through all walks of life. Hairstyling fosters a workplace that promotes strong support systems, and lays the foundation for powerful stories to be told. Many artists have a distinct ability to connect deeply with others in sharing experiences and offering encouragement to clients and colleagues alike. There is beauty in vulnerability – the ability to be open impacts others through our shared stories of hardship and resiliency. Adversity lives inside each of us, and those experiences color the way we see the world. While these memories can be tremendously difficult to overcome, conquering them can also push us to grow in ways that make us stronger, and add meaning and fulfillment to our lives. Our 6th issue shares the story of a successful salon owner, academy partner/director of operations, and avid volunteer from Regina. This industry leader’s perseverance and determination led her to an incredibly rewarding career, making her story of success a relatable and meaningful source of inspiration.
Our salon partner Candyce Fiessel’s professional portfolio boasts founding and operating Shear Escape Salon and Spa, co-founding The Style Academy, and playing an integral role in Saskatchewan Fashion Week. The foundation of this young professional’s success is deeply rooted in a strong value system, passion for the industry and commitment to creating positive change. As an avid volunteer, Candyce is driven to help build creative industries, and she believes that growth is achieved through an investment in people and ideas. As her list of accomplishments continues to grow, she maintains an active role in her community and is always on the look for the next big thing or collaboration. Yet, her personal path has not been the easiest:
“Just eight months after opening my salon, I was working day and night as an excited entrepreneur - attending every networking group available in the city, countless fundraisers, fashion shows and photoshoots (you name it). I was on top of the world, and was recognized by the Chamber of Commerce with a nomination for the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. Suddenly, my world changed forever. After an assault which resulted in a central stroke, I was unable to walk, talk, eat or see. My healing journey was so uncertain, it was unclear if I would ever do hair again. My family, friends, and community were unbelievably supportive during this time, and our salon team stepped in to help.”
Candyce shared how her overarching love for the industry and passion as a stylist empowered her to overcome all obstacles. Despite the challenges she faced, Candyce went on to open The Style Academy with her partner and uncle, Dan Pritchard, and together they lead and inspire industry growth. Today, with the strength she has gained, she shares her story to passionately inspire others. We are honored to help
Candyce share her powerful story and hope this message spreads inspiration and light. Read on to find out more about Candyce, Shear Escape, and The Style Academy. - X
Why did you get into the hair + beauty industry?
I absolutely love to make people feel beautiful inside and out. This started back with school dances prepping all my friends with the ‘twisty’ trend, I was the updo queen. I loved seeing my friends transform - to walk and talk with a whole new level of confidence and appreciation for their natural beauty. My parents were very supportive of my dream to go into hairstyling right out of high school. My uncle was a stylist with two very successful salons where I started as a receptionist, and worked alongside incredible mentors.
What is your favorite part about the industry?
The opportunity to be a ‘day-maker.’ I wear this incredible energy every time I walk into the salon and it gives me a complete sense of belonging. My passions include: treasured relationships with clients; working alongside valued team members, who shape me in so many ways; being a part of a versatile and exciting industry where no two days are the same in terms of looks created or connections made. As stylists, we are artists with intense creativity. There are no limits to where we can go.
Tell us a little bit about Shear Escape!
I opened Shear Escape at the age of 21, a short six weeks after completing the Dale Carnegie Program. We are a team of trusted, talented and career-minded professionals who create a welcoming environment for our guests. As a Green Circle Salon, our team has a continued commitment to investing in our community. Our diverse group has incredible talent in a variety of services including: facials, creative nail art, barbering, extensions as well as both colour and cutting. Three years ago we completely remodeled to a modern space, and this August will mark our 14th year in business!”
How was your experience with the SSBC program?
I attended SSBC during a very sensitive time in my life, as I was still recovering from a debilitating attack, and was not physically able to perform behind the chair with the same ease that I once had. But my passion for what I do empowered me to keep fighting and overcome all obstacles that would deter me from the industry that I love; slowly, I started back with regular guests and it was shortly after this, in 2007, that I enrolled into SSBC (what was then KRS consulting). The business strategies, fundamentals and key learnings discussed resonated with me so deeply, and I was overcome with emotion; after day one of the program, I ran through the parking lot, tears streaming down my face, and collapsed down the side of the car. I had hope, I had vision. Looking into the future, I felt empowered, I was going to ‘work smarter not harder.’
How has SSBC impacted your businesses?
The impact of SSBC has been transformational for both of my businesses. During my recovery, I returned to the salon and worked directly with a powerhouse consultant who really ‘got shit done!’ We were provided with support and direction through homework assignments, organizational planning, the identification of where and how we needed to improve, strategic budgeting guidelines, as well as clarity and support on any existing grey areas. We transitioned into the program’s performance-based level system, which included split shifting and ongoing personal development meetings. After some initial growing pains, SSBC’s strategies became first nature and we began to excel as a team. We attended the SSBC program for a second time when we opened The Style Academy in 2013. Some of the major outcomes included: learning to lead without being physically present, clearly communicating high standards and expectations, and empowering our teams to feel valued, proud, and most importantly, to be inspired to do their best each and every day. The program completely altered my mindset of business operations, and I am grateful to have experienced these key learnings at such a young age. Today, I understand the value of a strong team in a new light, and would never entertain the idea of going out on my own again. Find your tribe and love them hard! There is room for everyone to succeed.”
Tell us about your lovely shareholders and friends who attended our photo shoot with you!
Sherylee Vervalcke is the first employee I ever hired and consequently, the one who helped me learn to walk again during my recovery. After years of working together she entertained the idea of going out on her own to open a salon. It was then that we were gifted the experience of collaboration, as she became a shareholder of the salon in 2009. After years of continued partnership, we continue to have the utmost respect for one another.
In 2017, one of our valued team members for over 10 years, Kylie Heck, became an additional shareholder. Kylie supported me tremendously as I transitioned to one day a week behind the chair. Today, we are a very close, solution focused team and offer a strong support system to one another.
What was your inspiration behind opening The Style Academy?
I was inspired to open The Style Academy after experiencing the SSBC program and the benefits of merging creative minds with business building strategies. Modeling after SSBC systems, Shear Escape’s success inspired me to transform the way our industry was viewed. A career as a hairstylist, makeup artist, esthetician or nail technician are all rewarding professions, and I wanted to help lead industry change. In 2013, the timing aligned and I partnered with my uncle, Dan, to open The Style Academy. Armed with key learnings and the same vision, we joined forces to purchase Richard’s Beauty College. Together we revamped and transformed the existing model through rebranding, a change of location, and a new lineup of educational offerings.
Tell us about The Style Academy!
At The Style Academy we are transforming the beauty industry, one student at a time, with our excellent team, commitment to professional development, guest experience, and building best in class practices. The Style Academy evolved from a five program offering with a small team of six, to 30+ programs featuring hands-on training and a team of 18+ exemplary educators. Our passionate team is comprised of various award-winning industry leaders, experienced salon owners, renowned judges and trainers. Our driven team, and continued commitment to elevating the student experience helps us to bring the best education to Saskatchewan.
How has opening The Style Academy impacted your salon business?
Operations and the expenses are completely different between the school and the salon, which was a huge learning curve in the beginning. Although both businesses are different, they complement one another and we often share systems between locations. Shear Escape still hires from The Style Academy to this day. I am so blessed to watch our students grow from their first day onwards!
What is the biggest challenge salon owner’s face today?
The esthetics, nails, and makeup side of our industry is facing voluntary licensing. This causes over saturation and low standards for those who do not attend full programs, or who are educated by unregulated independents. The most common conversation I have is around maintaining a strong team and the challenge of growing your own employees and then seeing them leave.
Another is retailing - back bar and professional costs, including waste, are expenses that become out of control when retail sales do not support the ongoing investment.
Home based business and chair/room rental have a strong presence amongst our commission operated salons. This is a topic that I am excited to explore with industry mixers in the near future. Opening up this conversation amongst our leaders will create a strong foundation for apprentices and senior artists offering diverse options in our trade. I don’t think one way is best, but I see a lot of room for collaborative improvement. I am proud to say many of our teammates over the years have embarked as entrepreneurs - you never know when your paths may cross again, armed with new skill-sets and an opportunity to create something even greater.
Do you have any advice for business owners in regards to attracting, developing and retaining salon professionals?
Show your interest in leading and share what your salon has to offer by creating close relationships with local schools; invite students into your salons by hosting tours or offering work experiences. As owners, we need to invest in leadership and marketing education for ourselves, and provide continuous education for our teams. This will help us stay ahead of the rapid changes/challenges facing workforces today. Utilizing SSBC’s level system has been integral to enhancing our teams via: regular consultations, professional training, effective tracking, performance accountability and more. I recommend being open and honest with your team as an everyday practice. Help them understand the ‘why’ behind what you do and the impact this has on your guests. Most importantly, value each unique team member and understand their dreams and purpose, so you can create opportunities within your company accordingly.
How has social media impacted your business over the last 3-5 years?
When we opened in 2005, social media for businesses was not popular yet. We had our team picture on channel 13 and felt like celebrities! In the last 3-5 years we are seeing stylists grow through our level system faster than ever with the use of effective social media strategies. The opportunity to present our team online, to visual audiences excited to celebrate, engage and support our salon has been a game changer. We invest time and education to accelerate social media growth, ultimately enhancing guest relationships.
Consumers need to do their homework when choosing salon professionals, by using social media to research their level of education and credibility.
Tell us about your extensive involvement in the Saskatchewan Community?
I am extensively involved in the Saskatchewan community because I love to create memorable experiences. Our salon team has hosted and contributed to many fashion show fundraisers, support and rehab centers for domestic violence. One year we hired actors and hosted an event called, A Day in The Life of a Hairdresser. It was a blast! My favorite experience was a partnership with the YWCA where we shared conversations on self-esteem and healthy relationship over a six week program. My heart exploded when we joined to teach hair, makeup, nail, and modeling techniques with a finale fashion show showcasing the youth on the runway.
In addition, I speak at a lot of high schools and The Style Academy hosts Courageous You summer camps for youth ages 10-17. I am on the Audacity Council in Regina where we spread the message of our entrepreneurial city. In 2011, Chris Pritchard, Chelsea Petterson and I founded the Saskatchewan Fashion Week alongside a powerful committee. This movement has drastically improved the support and collaboration of creatives fostering entrepreneurship. We love to play in the community wherever we can.
You’re creator of My Life Planner, what’s this all about?
My Life Planner was the birthing of a heart project in November 2018. This planner / agenda I created captures some of the valuable tools that I used throughout my healing journey. After I began sharing my story as aspeaker, it became apparent that I could offer this piece of me, to others looking to capture their year. This planner can be used as a keepsake to detail ones self-exploration, experiences, healing and gratitude. My Life Planner is an incredible tool to coach with by enhancing accountability, communication and massive action within your team. It encourages you to live with intention both personally and professionally. To learn more, visit mylifeplanner.ca.
What qualities do you think make a great salon owner and leader?
I believe you succeed as a great leader when you identify and understand your strengths as an artist, leader, manager or entrepreneur and choose ‘where to build your mastery’ (Tony Robbins Business Mastery). I think trying to wear every hat is an old school mentality being replaced by collaboration and the opportunity to live a fulfilled life. Going out on your own can fall short in regards to offering longevity or an exit plan. Your vision and creativity can still come to life amongst a power tribe, and that tribe will be there to support you through all the unexpected curves life can throw. I believe teams are transformed through focusing on continuous improvement, open communication and dedication to create/ maintain a positive culture.”
Work life balance… what does this look like for you?
I have two young boys aged 3 and 4, so it is very important to be intentional with my time, yet flexible and aware of my boundaries. At an SSBC’s education seminar, Glen Baker spoke about shifting focus to fulfillment in each experience, versus trying to achieve balance; achieving balance can feel unattainable at times. This learning really stuck with me, and I love my mission to enjoy the journey even amongst chaotic moments. Now, when faced with challenges my primary question is, ‘how can I appreciate even more of the guidance or opportunity in this moment?’ Life is truly a gift. I want to get up every day and play - stay connected to my rituals and self-awareness while creating memorable experiences.
Where do you envision the salon industry going in the next 3 years? How would you like to see it grow?
Picture this: a Luxury Lifestyle Lounge – a modern experience to enhance the quality of our community’s self-care and life planning. The elevation, longevity and success of industry professionals through mentorship, shareholder opportunities, feasible exit strategies, luxury rentals & increased guest traffic. Picture offering of an optimal guest experience featuring convenient app scheduling and childcare support, enabling the ability to accomplish multiple personal tasks with ease. Picture creating an escape that feels both productive and life enhancing. This is my dream! - X
Michelle has been a part of our Summit Fam for eight plus years now and is one of our five sales consultants based out of Saskatchewan. After years of experience in the service industry, Michelle found herself searching for something more than a typical 9 to 5, when she stumbled across the Redken brand. Coming into the business “completely green”, she felt an instant connection to both the people and the lifestyle; it was no time at all before she fell, “madly in love with the industry”. Situated in Regina, Michelle is strongly valued by clients and colleagues alike and is known for her passion, enthusiasm and dedication to helping others grow their business. Once hesitant to call herself a “cheesy sales person,” Michelle shares how she loves her role as a consultant, “I don’t just sell products, I build relationships. I talk business with my clients and help implement effective strategies to grow their salons and their teams. Honestly, I have to be one of the luckiest people - I get to meet and spend time with some of the coolest, most talented and inspiring creatives as my ‘JOB.’” When she’s not putting in windshield time, or in-salon, you can find Michelle at the hockey rink cheering on her two sons with her husband, or escaping the city to a quiet cabin with friends and family.
What is the biggest challenge facing salon owners today?
Staff retention is an ongoing issue for salon owners, but lately I think an even bigger issue is client retention. Consumers are spending more money on other vanity services (medi spa, micro blading, lash extensions etc.) and hair appointments aren’t taking precedence. So if salons / stylists aren’t educating about the importance of pre-booking and maintenance between big services, they will continue to feel the challenge of client loyalty and consistency. In addition, the constant need to have a presence on social media is no longer optional for owners. In order to maintain/grow their business, they must have a voice online so their clients aren’t just listening to the competition.
How has social media impacted your role over the past 3-5 years?
It’s grown from just a guilty pleasure, to a very important platform to share and connect with clients. When I first started this job I would be the one to tell my clients about new products first, but now they know about what’s new sometimes before I do! It’s imperative that I am always aware of what companies are posting, so I can keep up with what my clients are seeing. I need to make sure I am keeping my clients up-to-date by posting new products and information. People are always searching for the newest thing, so you need to keep their attention.
What’s your most embarrassing moment?
I’m terrible with names, so typically name flubs are the most embarrassing moments for me. Singing karaoke with my coworkers is also something I don’t like to remember… but the one memory that makes me shake my head is playing hairdresser, at home, when I was new to the industry. Turning my hair grey, before grey was the hottest trend, was very embarrassing as a new rep. This was a key lesson to leave this work to the professionals – and also that Crystal Clear is a girl’s best friend! - X
Specializing in capturing beautiful moments, landscapes and all things vintage/ boho, we love Karen and her chill approach to photography. In addition to her talents behind the lens, this dog-loving, pie-baking, breakfast enthusiast is an absolute blast to collab with. We were honored to have this tatted-babe on board for our 6th issue, and would highly recommend her to anyone looking for a fun n’ fabulous photo sesh!
“Photographs are one of the only things that’ll last a lifetime and bring you back to the moment, the feeling and the experience of the biggest milestones in your life!” -Karen
As a visual artist, where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw a lot of inspiration from other creatives in the field and also from historical art, especially for my boudoir sessions.
Where would be your all-time favorite place to do a shoot?There’s too many! If I’d have to narrow it down it would be in either Yosemite National Park, New Zealand, or Iceland!
What are some photography tips for stylists taking client photos, to post on the gram?
Lighting and background! Make sure you have a good and natural light source (large window) and a non-distracting background (white wall). - X