We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Helena Gibson a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Helena , appreciate you joining us today. Let’s kick things off with your mission – what is it and what’s the story behind why it’s your mission?
This is a personal question for me, as I had two very strong missions for starting Strut 20 years ago. Strut was conceived with the simple vision of helping women feel confident in their own skin.
My mom was struggling with thinning hair. Watching her struggle to find a solution and a place that understood the emotional toll that this was taking on her self esteem and confidence, I knew I had to create a safe environment for women like her to find solutions to a problem that affects millions of women each year. Hair loss can feel isolating and shameful and I had to change that narrative.
Second, I was a single mother of a 4 year old when I created Strut. I needed a way to provide a life for her where she didn’t miss out on anything and would be proud of what I was doing in the world. Strut allowed me to create a family friendly business. I created our hours around school hours so we could be home for dinner with our family’s and get our kids ready for school.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
At Strut Hair Solutions, we are passionate about hair and we appreciate all things that make women feel confident in their own skin. We were established in 2002 with the simple vision of helping women feel good and empowered with themselves and in their appearance.
I created Strut after watching mom struggle with thinning hair. The other local stores at the time did not empathize with the emotional toll this was having on her. She would miss out on taking photos, didn’t want to date, etc because of how she felt her hair looked. Which got me thinking if my mom feels this way other women must too. This lead me on a journey to create stores that are meant for women to visit when they want to feel young, sexy, and free from the negative self-image that hair loss can cause.
We sell wigs, hair extensions, and other hair products that highlight our clients own unique look. We also understand that high-quality hair solutions are an investment; thus, we offer services like washing, drying, cutting, styling, and more, to help protect them. We offer a wide range of price points too—from the budget-conscious to the discerning client, looking for the best of the best. Our motto is you “Walk in and Strut Out!”
Do you have any insights you can share related to maintaining high team morale?
Managing your team in my experience is one of the most important parts of your business. They are your front line and for us the second point of contact in the business after the client comes in through social media or a search engine. This first contact with the team is crucial.
One of my top 3 priorities is making sure my team is engaged and happy.
I do this by holding weekly staff meeting. This is a great time for the team to share their wins and any struggles they faced the week before, they want to share what happened.
Also, I update them on changes going on in our industry and updates to our marketing so they are aware of what’s happening. Teams are the most happy when they know what is expected.
During the week I send memos, again keeping them informed. This has translated for us in team members feeling empowered and invested in.
We keep weekly sheets of tasks for front desk and the store, to keep everything running smoothly and make sure we don’t miss anything. This also shows us where the gaps are and what needs to be improved upon.
Last, quarterly I do sometime special for them. Taking everyone to dinner, going for massages or ordering in lunch. I want them to know how much I appreciate them.
Have you ever had to pivot?
I’d say 2020 was the year of the pivot for most of us. I remember how I felt when I heard the news that our businesses would be shut for 2 1/2 months. My first instinct was to panic, was I going to lose the business and life I had created over the last 18 years? Then I thought, NO, pull yourself together and show your team that everything is going to be fine and we will make it though this. I reminded myself that they are watching how I react and if I didn’t panic…they wouldn’t either.
We closed the shops and my team was laid off. I continued to send weekly emails, to keep them engaged, encouraged and feeling secure that we would be okay. I let my salon establishment license during that time go, so if there was another shut down we would not have to close. (That was the best move, as salons did close again and we remained open) The loss of hair salon services was very low compared to the potential loss of retail sales being able to stay open.
My leadership grew more that year than the previous 18. I was managing my teams emotions to COVID, my team feeling safe and clients feeling safe. The mask mandate, navigating that in a retail environment was very stressful but we did it.
With all this said we came back with 2021 being our best year ever. I’m more confidant in my leadership skills and knowing that we can get through anything together, just don’t panic.
- Website: struthairsolutions.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/strutwigs/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StrutHairSolutions/
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/helena-gibson-5a672820/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChOw3Kobg1ol8arV8NM39aQ
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/strut-hair-solutions-san-diego-wigs-and-hair-extensions-solana-beach-2?osq=strut+hair+solutions