BEAUTY | DECEMBER 19th, 2019


with three London salons and a highly-revered training academy, get to know the founder and innovator, Gina Conway

First up, tell us about your role?
Ahhh…! I am the innovator. I see the big picture. My focus is keeping people happy and I do whatever that takes. So, from a hairdresser to business person, I wear many hats. I get to do the fun things that count in the business. I create the client journey, develop our Academy, design and fit out of the salons, do the creative direction for all our photoshoots and plan the marketing.

I oversee a number of areas to maintain quality control and development, but innovation remains at the heart of everything I do. I look at the client experience from a 360-degree perspective because I want that to be perfect. I work on coaching plans to develop the teams alongside the managers. It’s awesome working with other creative, talented individuals and it’s my privilege to shape their experience and create an environment that they really want to work in.


What took you into hairdressing?
I always did my friends hair at school. The first perm I did was on my 13-year-old classmate… oops! Luckily, she had curly hair to begin with, so it didn’t look too bad. I wanted to do something so that I could make a difference in people’s lives. I discovered that by owning salons and spas, this was a great way to give that on a huge scale. 

Hairdressing always came really easy to me. Through the years I wanted more creative challenge so I went to art school for sculpture, and also got a degree at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising so that I could really dig deep into the creative arts. I still can’t wait to get up
in the morning and see what the day will bring me. I am still learning and growing and am lucky to have my job also be my hobby. But to sum it up, all I really want to do is make people happy.


What’s your favourite part of your job?
I founded my salons with the vision of creating a place where people “wanted to want to come to work”. I felt that if I made them feel valued, and inspired and gave them a career path, then this would reflect in their giving love back to their guests and each other. I create a sanctuary for my team. I very rarely lose a stylist to work for another company. I have lost one in two years that has worked for another salon and not come back to work for us again.


What’s your biggest achievement?

We have had quite a couple of years! This year alone we won Best New Salon in UK, Best Business For Customer Service , Best Medium Sized Business, Best Overall Business in Merton, and are up for London Hairdresser of the Year at BHA just to name a few. Being a finalist in 12 awards in 2019 has definitely one of the best years of my career to date, and yet with all of this we are still humble and grateful every day that we get to do what we love.

In 2017 we opened our new Academy at Gina Conway. It is fully accredited, and we now train other Aveda salon apprentices at the Wimbledon salon location. Now we have a waiting list! I am so proud that being trained at Gina Conway means something. I have always said that having my name over the door is one of the best but most important decisions I have made. It means that I take my business very personally. Everyone who walks out is a reflection of everything that I have ever stood for. I hope that their experience is exactly as I envisioned it.


What have you found most challenging?
I was living in Paris for the last 3 years, and I found that incredibly hard running the business from abroad and missing my kids as I was back to London often. Oh, the idea was so romantic, but I found I missed being in the salon and the salon missed me being in it. We are all one big family. I just love walking in and feeling the positive energy and being a part of that.


Who or what inspires you?
When I need a shot in the arm of inspiration I go walking. I either get lost among the streets of London or in a forest thick with moss and the smell of musty leaves. I am a nature girl and so many of my ideas stem from exploring the unknown. Music and dancing are my passions outside of doing hair so having the ability to get lost in all of my senses really help me to uncover ideas and opportunities.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
My mother taught me to “make the world a better place than I found it”. That drives me every day. I know that is why Aveda and I are so aligned because they give me the ability to help the planet while doing what I love. I am so grateful to have found them and feel proud to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. I am hoping to become the largest sustainable salon group in the UK shortly and am so inspired by my team who are completely with me on this. Now is the time and it’s about time.


What upcoming hair trends are you excited about?
As a colourist, I am really thrilled that Aveda has developed the Vibrants range. Clients of all ages are experimenting with this and it is fun to be able to add some personality to a set of highlights, and even adding some peekaboo colour. We have launched our Colour Express menu which is a great way to encourage people to try colour without too much commitment or cost so we can capture more of the colour-shy market, and younger first-time colour clients.


Favourite hair trend ever?
As I am a bit of a vintage girl myself, I love the Veronica Lake waves with a little modern twist of the hairpins left in. Here’s how I create the look: Take 3cm sections and begin horizontal tonging. Brush it out to create this wave and then give it a glam twist with sparkly hairpins to keep the waves in place. Finish with Aveda air control™ hair spray.


Do you have a mantra?

“Good enough is never good enough.”

I don’t want to hear my clients saying they had a good experience. I want them to come away and say they had a great experience and be the ambassadors for our brand because we deliver above and beyond. We strive to be ‘day-makers’.


What’s your advice for a hairdresser starting out today?
Find a salon that has a super training programme and stick with it. Listen, ask questions and go above and beyond. The cream rises to the top and when it comes time to get that job as a hairdresser you want them to have no question of who to give that promotion to. Take all of the opportunities that come your way. This exciting career can take you lots of places, so learn what you can whenever you can.


When you’re not at work, where would we find you?
My three amazing children are my cheeky little breath of fresh air. We go on long dog walks, explore museums, and go on bike rides. I would live on a tennis court if I could and dance the night away in a jazz club, if only I didn’t have to get up so early for school runs!


Book or Podcast you love?
I listen to Calm meditation a lot because it makes me remember to breathe.


Last but not least… What’s the one Aveda product you couldn’t live without?
Thickening tonic
. I love how it gives grip to the hair and thickens it up and yet feels invisible. It adds shine and body too which is what everyone is looking for in a super blow dry. It’s a hairdresser’s best friend.