Owner and manager of Addictive Hair & Beauty Sophie Wiblen.
Owner and manager of Addictive Hair & Beauty Sophie Wiblen.

COVID-19 recovery Q&A with Addictive Hair & Beauty

EACH week, The Daily Examiner will present a Q&A with previous Clarence Valley Business Awards winners, and in our second instalment, sponsored by TAFE NSW, CVBEA marketing manager Renee Murphy was joined by the incredibly talented Sophie Wiblen - owner and manager of Addictive Hair & Beauty, based in Grafton.

Renee Murphy: Sophie, before we get into asking you questions on how you managed things over this time, could you please firstly give us your history with the CVBEA to date?

Sophie Wiblen: Sure, we won the Business Excellence Award for Hair and Beauty salons in 2016 and then the following two years after that. Totalling three years in a row and then onto the Hall of Fame. Last year we were lucky enough to be asked to support the Awards in the way of a donation, we donated 'Hair for a Year' as the lucky door prize with the prize winner ecstatic to have their hair done on us for a whole year.

RM: What did it mean to you in winning these Awards?

SW: Winning the Awards gave our business a huge boost, it reinforced to our existing clientele that they are making a good decision in coming to our salon and it gave us exposure to gain new clientele. That and also lifting staff morale and showing my team the confidence in their workplace. At Addictive Hair & Beauty we do strive to be better each day and entering the Awards really forced us to stop and take a real good look at our business structure to ensure our goals were being achieved.

Ruth Finlay compares her award with boss Sophie Wiblen at the 2016 Clarence Valley Business Awards. Ruth won Trainee/Apprentice of the Year for her work at Addictive Hair and Beauty, and Sophie, who owns Addictive Hair and Beauty holds the award for best Hair and Beauty Business.
Ruth Finlay compares her award with boss Sophie Wiblen at the 2016 Clarence Valley Business Awards. Ruth won Trainee/Apprentice of the Year for her work at Addictive Hair and Beauty, and Sophie, who owns Addictive Hair and Beauty holds the award for best Hair and Beauty Business.

RM: Now, prior to the start of COVID crisis did you have any business continuity plans in place to cover a major incident of any kind like this?

SW: No I didn't have a plan as such. I have always allocated a certain amount of dollars within the budget for emergency situations however not to the scale of COVID. When the time came that we decided to close the salon, it took a lot of the stress out of the situation knowing that the business could close for a while and my team could still be paid. In saying that, the unknown was very scary just the 'unknown' of not knowing how long the salon would actually be closed for. It was the safest option for my team, their families and of course our loyal clientele base.

RM: Were you taken back by the type of support that was offered over this time specifically to your industry?

SW: Yes, I am so grateful for the support we have received so far from the government. And my landlord being very generous with rent reductions. It has enabled us to be able to get back up on our feet when we felt it was safe to reopen and start our new normal daily lives, slowly and safely.

Owner and manager of Addictive Hair & Beauty Sophie Wiblen.
Owner and manager of Addictive Hair & Beauty Sophie Wiblen.

RM: Once the current emergency is fully over a key factor in resuming business will be getting customers back. What steps is your business taking to maintain engagement with your clientele base during this time?

SW: We are lucky enough to be able to safely open back up already and almost back to I guess normal. While we were closed we kept our clientele up to date via our social media platforms, we tried our best to be able to accommodate customers wanting to purchase products by arranging over the phone payments and non-contact drop offs to their house.

We reopened with the new restrictions in place and had the task of rescheduling our clients who had missed out on their appointments back in March. We have spaced out our appointment times so there is no cross over between clients (both with clients having their hair done and new clients arriving). We have set aside plenty of time for cleaning and proper sterilisation between clients and we are also using every second station to ensure we adhere to the 1.5m rule. Finally, we also have less staff on to ensure we are within the 4 sqm rule.

RM: What do you think will be your biggest challenge in re-establishing your business?

SW: We have been lucky enough that the majority of our clientele have been loyal and waited for us meaning they didn't grab a box dye off the supermarket shelf, nor did they stray to another salon who remained open. They appreciate the great work that we do and the difference in customer service that we provide even though it has been a different pace and things are a little quieter around the salon our business has been easy to re-establish.

RM: What sort of positives have come out of this unlikely scenario for both yourself and your business?

SW: I do believe that it is the years of hard work and dedication that we put into the business before the pandemic hit that helped in re-establishing ourselves so quickly. We have used this time to better our business for now and plan for the future. Make bigger goals and map out the actions we need to take to achieve them. Watch this space, there's bigger and better things in store for Addictive Hair & Beauty! With the help of local designer Troy Designs during closure we set up a new website and online store. Something we have been meaning to do for such a while and COVID meant we had the downtime to really knuckle down and get it done. Our websites gives clients the convenience of being able to book their appointments online and shop online for their haircare - they can have it delivered or there is also a pick-up option in store.

RM: Thank you so much for your time Sophie, we continue to appreciate your support in strengthening the Clarence Valley community!

For more information or to book with Sophie or her fabulous team, please follow below link to Addictive Hair & Beauty's new website: https://www.addictivehairandbeauty.com.au

For the full Zoom interview with Addictive Hair & Beauty, visit the CVBEA Facebook page.


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