There have been many tears shed, dreams broken and moments of sheer despair. But as life has proven through history: ‘from the worst of times can come the best of times.’ Over the last few months, I’ve observed something quite special and quite beautiful happen, and that is strength in numbers that our industry has created. Even more noticeable, the power, impact and importance of women supporting women. After all, we are an industry primarily of women for women. 

Working for a company that is extremely focused and passionate about the support and empowerment of women, it has been so incredible seeing this come to life in so many ways. As an example, we’ve run a series of ‘Coffee Chats’ where we came together with our customers to have a supportive conversation. Where we shared in a safe place the despair, the uncertainty, and the enormous challenges of trying to keep a business afloat whilst home-schooling children, trying to get your head around JobKeeper and how to pay the rent! 

What was so rewarding and valuable during these conversations was the supportive nature of each attendee to the others. The empathy, understanding, the support and the care was so evident. Just to have someone to talk to, people who understood where you were at and to have business owners sharing their small wins with others and encourage them to try the same – it was therapeutic, special and it was magical. I felt privileged to be part of the conversation. 

Emma Hobson believes that working together empowers us all.

There have been many such conversations happening through some really amazing and supportive community groups that have become incredibly important and valuable over this time, easily accessible on social media and humanised by the members. If you are not part of at least one community group, may I encourage you to join? 

Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have their back. As we are an industry primarily for women, we must also not underestimate the enormous impact and importance we’ve had on our female clientele who may have felt/feel isolated, lonely, overwhelmed, fearful, stressed and unsupported. COVID has negatively influenced so many peoples’ lives. We have clients who not only live on their own but now work on their own and lack social interaction. Some may have lost their jobs, some may have faced increased domestic violence… when we reach out to them it is so much more than just a business call. 

It did not take us a moment after COVID hit to reach out to our clients, checking in to ask “Are you OK?” We immediately started to consider how we could care for our customers at home during this challenging time. With the onset of stress, we knew there were going to be many with problematic skin conditions and subsequent anguish. Answer? We created things like Corona Skin Care Relief Kits, sent in their droves to people in their homes. We had drive-by pick-up and home deliveries, and problem-solving posts on social media teaching our clients how to get their Shellac off their nails or apply self-tan without streaking! 

We got creative and we got digital. Finally, as an industry, we were forced to step-up, learn new skills, think outside of our business bubble, be imaginative and evolve with new business practices. We were forced to reconnect with our creative entrepreneurial spirit. We connected with our customers with complementary digital Skin Analysis check ups, running ‘Mirror Me’ one- on-one skin treatments to coach clients on how to care for their skin at home. We’ve run Skin Care virtual ‘Zoom parties’ for girlfriends to keep connected and have some fun. In essence, we have reached out with our ‘power of touch’ to those who needed the power of connectedness. We proved that our reach is far and our ability to keep engaged is great. We proved without a shadow of a doubt that the skincare business benefits from having a digital portfolio, and that our customers are eager and willing to engage. 

Women create, support and validate the importance of community. It was amazing when the doors of businesses reopened and the customers came flooding in – a true testament not just for the expert services you provide but the importance of the relationships and connectedness they have with you, all nurtured by you during the lock-down. Your actions from afar cemented your customer loyalty. 

This incredible and very positive shift in how we engage and support each other throughout our industry and community should not disappear into the background as we get ourselves back on our feet. Don’t let this incredible progress just melt away. Don’t let your customers see you just switch off your engagement because it’s not a priority to you anymore. As a case in point, we see what has recently happened in Melbourne with everyone back in lockdown for six weeks, and the main way to engage yet again is digital.
Now is not the time to take your foot off the accelerator of all the amazing work you have done. Now is the time to put your foot to the peddle and escalate how you support your customers and your local community. There is still so much more to be done and so many opportunities open to small business. Don’t abandon your digital consultations or your at home treatments, they are part of the new normal in how we offer our services. Don’t decrease your posts, instead increase and improve them. Another simple example is using and encouraging your clients to use the new Support Small Business sticker for Instagram Stories. It’s designed to help people discover and support small businesses, and it’s already getting a lot of use (open the stories camera and snap a photo or video as you normally would, open the stickers tray and select the Support Small Business sticker). Shout out and showcase your support of your community. Look for local (women’s) initiatives you can get involved in, see how collectively you and other small businesses around you can support eachother. Seek out ways you and your team can make a positive difference and try to get your customers on board too. 

There are so many great courses you can take to improve your digital footprint. Remember to reach out to your industry peers for help, as many are leading in this area and will be happy to share advice and expertise. 

As a tribe, we have all created something exceptionally special, something that is priceless in today’s society. We don’t know when we will have
a cure for the virus, or if another one may suddenly appear. What we do know is when times are tough, we are a valuable resource for other women (and men). And as an industry, when we help another woman rise; we all shine. 

This article first appeared in the August issue of Professional Beauty magazine. Download the issue here.

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