Hair apparent Oscar Oscar

Written on the 9 September 2009

Celebrating 20 years in the cutting edge competitive markets of global hairdressing, Oscar Oscar is stepping into a vibrant new expansion phase. Founder Oscar Cullinan is one of Australia’s leading hair stylists, made famous for his rogue charm, resounding determination and visionary leadership. Employing more than 130 staff, the next step he says, is to share that success with prospective partners.

Tell us a bit about your expansion plans. It’s not like a traditional franchise structure is it?
I have owned and operated Oscar Oscar Salons for 20 years now, so I have all the business models and blue prints in place to really expand my business. I didn’t want to franchise the brand, as I think it is important for me to have a certain level of involvement in each of the salons. However a 50 per cent partnership is the perfect way that I can expand the brand and still maintain some control over each salon. All of the marketing, administration, accounting and human resources is still run from head office. The brand is always consistent and it gives my partners the support they need to focus on running their salon with the confidence that they have a great team in head office to support them all the way.

Why these locations? How have you identified growth destinations?
We currently have seven salons in Queensland, NSW and Victoria with another Melbourne salon opening later this year. I always look for exclusive lifestyle locations that will support the positioning of the Oscar Oscar brand. We either look for great high-street locations that have neighbouring luxury retailers or we look for black-label shopping centres, such as Westfield Doncaster. The branding, marketing and other retailers located in these centres are synonymous with the Oscar Oscar brand.

How important is the Gold Coast to the business?
The Gold Coast is one of the fastest growing cities in Australia, so it is very important for us to establish a name here. The Gold Coast is also renowned as a luxury destination with Louis Vuitton, Prada, Palazzo Versace and other big name luxury retailers operating very successful businesses out of the Gold Coast, so it once again allows us to align the brand with other premium brands.

What kind of growth are you forecasting for the next FY?
We are focusing on expansion in the next financial year, with the next salon opening in Chadstone in Melbourne during November of this year, plus we are also looking to open another salon in Queensland in early 2010. So I am very positive that the next financial year will show some great growth.

Tell us about your partnership with Aveda Concept Salons?
It was a great step forward for Oscar Oscar Salons to work closely with an environmentally proactive brand like Aveda because we are now able to provide services and products that not only our clients enjoy but are better for the environment. There is a huge shift with consumers wanting eco-friendly products and greener alternatives in not only the beauty industry but in every industry, from hybrid cars to organic groceries and clothing made from environmentally friendly fabrics. Aveda gives our clients an opportunity to make small positive changes in their buying habits to help the environment, while still being able to indulge in a luxury beauty brand.

In an industry that relies heavily on chemicals, what are some of the challenges of going eco?
There are a lot of harmful chemicals in a lot of hair care products, such as ammonium, so switching to a brand such as Aveda has made this process much easier for us. The Aveda full spectrum colour range is up to 99 per cent naturally derived from plants and minerals, so it’s much better for the environment. The deposit-only colours are also ammonia-free, so as clients become more educated about benefits such as these you will find that more brands will need to start looking for cleaner and safer hair care alternatives.

What affect has the downturn had on revenue in the past 12 months?
Like a lot of business, it is a time when you need to look at your business and find areas that you can improve to keep things running smoothly. You can use times like these to your advantage to tighten your belt, analyse ways to improve your business and reduce your overheads, so once the downturn is over you are in an even better position than you were originally. So because of keeping a very close eye on my business I have been able to avoid a lot of the hardship other business have faced in the past 12 months.

The Oscar Oscar brand has become synonymous with high-end fashion and you list Paris Hilton, Jade Jagger, The Veronicas and Miranda Kerr as clients. What have you learned from a branding perspective?

I am trying to achieve the first luxury hairdressing salon brand in Australia, so it is imperative that I align myself with celebrities, designers, models and the fashion set, as it shows consumers that I have the seal of approval from people they aspire to. Our advertising, public relations, marketing and on-line communications all work synonymously together to create a uniform message that brands Oscar Oscar as curator of luxury hairdressing.

What piece of business advice have you deemed an important part of your success?

This is not so much advice but a realisation. It occurred when a seasoned salon owner once asked me why I invested so much time and money into training my staff. They asked me ‘What happens if you train someone and they leave?’ I answered with a question, ‘What happens when you don’t train someone and they stay?’ So it has always been my philosophy to focus on education and training, it is the reason why our salons are so successful.

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