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A New Year and its New Challenges...

The New Year is always a good time for self reflection and assessment. A time when we focus on new lifestyles, goals and resolutions.

I am sure I am not alone in thinking that with the world (as we knew it) shifting on its axis last year and chaos still reigning on a global scale even as I write this... it feels like this New Year is a time to take stock of the things I have rather than the things I long for.

Don't get me wrong...I did just spend the last week renovating my garage into a home gym (the lockdown excesses have got to go), but I do feel a really strong sense of focus on the NOW as opposed to what's next. Maybe we've all learnt to depend more on the now because we have no idea what's next....

I usually sit down and take stock of my business this time of year. Where are we at? Where are we heading? What do I want? And the team and I are very conscious of those questions and their answers but 2020 was a year in which my business changed almost entirely so assessing ourselves just now feels a little like swimming upstream.

We had just moved into a new home. A space that finally spoke to our identity as a motley crew of hairdressers who just wanted to spend our days having fun doing hair. We were settling in and on a roll.

Six weeks later, the first lockdown, in March, forced us to just stop. I still remember locking up the salon and saying goodbye to the team, all of us a little emotional...we were worried, for each other and the business and our families and friends. We had no idea how long it was going to be. But we kept in the rest of the world...started to rely on Zoom to keep connected and ultimately that pause, that change of pace and extra time with our families became something we all really appreciated and cherished.

Then it was back to work in August with new systems in place, a new layout, new services, new way of booking, new way of working...we learnt to adapt and take more care of each other. I was so proud of the team and also discovered a new love for my work. The change of pace that was necessary for safety reasons actually made our working environment more chilled and we all loved being back without the clutter and stress of running busy columns, looking after several clients at the same time. It felt like we had reinvented the wheel....there was no need to work ourselves sick...we could pace it out and be better, happier hairdressers.

As we progressed through the autumn, slowly introducing more services as we got used to the new restrictions, we found our new rhythm. Finally starting to feel like we had properly moved in to 172 Hope Street! And then the second lockdown hit.

This time we were prepared. It was three weeks. We would make the time more productive. We had meetings, took part in courses and seminars and worked on actively improving our mental health. Making sure that when we started back we'd be ready for the busy run up to Christmas and beyond, fitting in clients who'd had to cancel for lockdown and accommodating clients that had to cancel because they couldn't travel to see us. It was a busy couple of weeks but we knew that this third lockdown was coming so there was a sense of enjoying each day that we got and trying not to get stressed about the days that we wouldn't get.

Which brings me back to that notion of swimming upstream. I've had to learn to surrender to the flow a little more with my business. Belle & Blackley has become a malleable thing that has changed shape and form a lot over the last few months. I spent so long during my career working within rigid salon systems, either because it was part of a big group or because it was the 'way it's always been done'. Seeing the way my business has adapted has helped me let go of some of those conceptions. It took the forced closure of the pandemic for me to be bold enough to make the changes I've always wanted to make and approach my work in a totally different way.

So now I have to look into the future in a different way too. It's not just about sitting down and doing my sums. Where are we at? Where are we heading? What do I want? None of us know what's coming in the next few months. I can't control any of that.

What I can do though is focus on the direction we want to go and make sure that as we get swept up by the team and I are at least on a boat, with a rudder in place that's keeping us facing forward.


P.S. Is it obvious I've written this while I'm in the bath?

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