Pippa Hallas has been at the helm of Ella Baché for close to 10 years and it’s safe to say that the pandemic has been her biggest challenge yet.
From closing salons across the country and pivoting to virtual services to reopening and closing once again, Ella Baché is finally preparing to open all of its doors for good in the coming months. We chatted with CEO, Pippa about overcoming lockdown challenges, how the business has been changed forever and how they’re navigating reopening.
Can you start by telling us about your career with Ella Baché so far?
PH: For the better part of a decade now I have been the CEO of Ella Baché, a career that has been both humbling and in moments a little hectic! When I reflect on my time at the helm of Ella Baché. I always circle back to the ethos that the company was founded on: forward thinking and innovation. Today, these still ring true.
My journey so far has been one that focuses heavily on revolutionising our business model, our products, and our communication. As it stands, we have expanded our network to over 150 franchise locations across the country; and we continue to hone in on technology and the ever-growing e-commerce world. Being CEO of a legacy brand, and one that is now in its third generation of family ownership means being part of a big community. Above all else I hope to continue to encourage the Ella Baché HQ, Therapists and College Students to be bold and become business leaders in their own right.
How have you and your team been managing the online community since going virtual?
PH: When COVID hit last year, we took the view that it was time to give. Our way of giving was to educate and connect into our community. So, over the last two years we have invested our time into training and educating our therapists shifting not only our focus, but theirs, on social media and virtual salons. It has been amazing watching their confidence grow digitally and I know our loyal Ella Baché customers have loved learning new ways to care for their skin. We have seen a lot of growth in the flexible consumer so it’s a wonderful tool to be able to log on with your therapist and go through your skincare routines whilst learning about the latest products and ingredients. Connection and self-care is key!
How are you navigating the reopening phase for Ella Baché salons? What have some of the biggest challenges been and how is the business responding to these?
PH: The biggest challenges for Ella Baché are the continuous shifts between state protocols. As a national franchise business, we have salons nationwide, and all operations are currently limited as per each state restriction. So, keeping abreast of these changes in each different state has been hugely time consuming. With government regulations at the forefront of our mind we want to ensure we are operating in the safest possible manner for our staff and clients and in doing so are supporting staff with vaccination protocols, hygiene protocols and our own extensive cleaning protocols.
Are there any ways in which the pandemic has permanently changed the way you run the business moving forward?
PH: I believe COVID-19 has been a great accelerator of technology, and has caused us to place a superior focus on healthy skin (zoom has meant we have become hyper aware of our complexion), and products that are Australian-made, of high quality, safe and trusted. Whilst it’s caused a huge time change in the way we buy, book, work and learn, people are social beings and we need a balance of high tech and high touch in the way we operate in the future. Consumers will always love the in-salon experience, and the expertise and indulgence that comes with it. Our clients and people will deserve it after these challenging times!
What’s your advice to other leaders who are leading businesses through immense challenges?
PH: Our industry, like many others has been hit hard. But the end is near, and if there is one thing I know for certain it is consumers globally are desperate to indulge in beauty and skincare services so it’s time to knuckle down and get back to work, just in time for the festive season! If we have a strong summer and Christmas period, it will set us up for a successful 2022. We all need to stay focused on what we can control in times of such uncertainty.
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