Ladies Who Launch: Chelsea De Main || Eye Am Hair
Chelsea De Main has done something that I love - she's disrupted a traditional industry model to create something new and exciting. I'm so pumped about her and her business, her creativity is infectious, as is her grit, determination and belief in what she is doing and why.
Chelsea founded Eye Am Hair in 2015 as a way to change the way we can experience hairdressing. There were things that just didn’t work for her, such as conforming to the norm and as a result of this, she started thinking about how much she loved hairdressing and what she could take out of mainstream salon environments that aren’t essential for operating and what doesn’t work for her. Classic good hustle dharma hunting approach to recognise who she is called to serve and in what capacity while identifying what isn't working and how that can be fixed.
What Chelsea came up with was a caravan - which seemed to her like the perfect place to decentralize the hairdressing culture that appeals to people who like to do things a little differently. Freaking genius right? Right. I believe every person can create this type of experience for their own work, whether they are in their own business or work for someone else. As soon as you are clear on what you are driven to do, you have the power and verve to get there, and the rest is just problem solving, patience and practice!
1. Describe your business in one powerful sentence.
“Helping people think outside the salon.”
2. How do you integrate service to others in your business model?
As hairdressing is a service-based industry, serving others is the name of the game. In the creation of Eye Am Hair, I looked at the essence of hairdressing and asked myself, how could these core elements of transformation, space and intimacy be redefined into an experience that is relevant to our changing culture. By creating a business model that strives to go beyond it’s stereotypical framework in all aspects of hairdressing, we’ve opened up a lot of room to think outside the salon and create ongoing unique salon experiences.
Our latest venture was a Silent Salon and Mystery Manes concept at the Mona Foma festival. In a nutshell, it was a hairdressing concept that removed all verbal client and hair artist communication until the end of the service, the client could indicate a type of style via a questionnaire or give the artists complete freedom to create the look until it was revealed outside the salon at the end. It was a lot of fun and we got incredibly positive feedback. People just zoning out and having a sensual experience with their hairdressers is definitely a thing! In reflection, we didn’t know what we would find or gain when we proposed the concept, but diving into the unknown has lead us to incorporate the silent salon into our business model.
On top of this, we integrate our service with the ethics we believe in. Our aim is to create unpretentious, professional and relaxed vibes for every person that steps in the door. The space is gender neutral with barbers and hairdressers having fun working side by side. The salon itself was designed using around 90% of recycled materials and we use premiuim, ethical sourced products that are vegan, GF, paraben and sulphate free.
3. What were some of the highlights and low lights of your journey to where you are now?
In 2016 I won a nationally recognised award for a hairdressing competition in “The Definition of Fashion.” It was a live competition and judged on our ability to be able to achieve a total look that’s current, relevant and defining of our time.
I was proud of my achievement, as it was something I felt I was achieving in my business model and this gave me validation in my cause. Being a festival and wedding hairdresser really helped me hone in on the skill of being able to create a style based on whoever presents to me. What they are wearing, their face shapes and persona. The Silent Salon and mystery Manes concept at Mona really challenged this and relied on this instinct of trust in our trade and what we can achieve when we open our minds up as hair artists and as guests in a hair salon.
One of the most challenging aspect of my journey so far has been in the early days hitting road blocks. (Not with the caravan but almost!)
Because I ventured into something that no one else is really doing, it was incredible learning experience Having to acquire the skills on how to operate a movable salon space, understanding the requirements of electrical, plumbing, design, business and so on were real battles. In the end, many mentors emerged to help me overcome the unknown and navigate around the road blocks that have popped up along the way.
4. Do you have a spiritual practice?
Manifesting. I am a believer in putting out what I am seeking to the universe and being clear and concise in doing so. I like to do this on a full moon, not routinely but more so when I feel I can’t achieve something on my own. When I’ve done everything I possibly can and I’m after that extra little bit of help to get the answers I need. I do a bit of a ritualistic journaling writing down what I am seeking read it out loud, light a candle and some incense, meditate on it holding crystals and then burn it. It sounds a bit witchy poo but I think its actually just goal setting done in a more earthy way.
Something I do in the salon is a deep cleansing at the basin called a Hair Bath each time I was someone’s hair. I like to focus my energy on making the person I am seeing feel completely and utterly relaxed. I believe its quite a connective and spiritual ritual. Firstly I like to execute the shampoo with a vigorous and cleansing technique, washing away all the build up and pollutants from our daily lives. If one cycle isn’t enough, I’ll do two, followed by a deep conditioning hair mask. This process is much more sensual and slow. I really work on pressure points and releasing tension. The rinsing phase is where I use warm water to remove the excess conditioner as I wash all worries down the drain. Lastly, a cool rinse to seal in the cuticle and reinvigorate blood flow to the scalp. I often do this with my eyes closed and like to feel my way around the hair and scalp. I also get quite grounded doing this service and have often made clients fall asleep.
It’s a beautiful way to start the trusting relationship that follows with client in doing the haircut,style or colour process.
5. Advice for others who want to start their own good hustle?
Always go with your gut instinct. It’s ok to say no. Understand why you want to do something and ask for help when you don’t understand. I’ve learnt and I’ve been burnt by not understanding these values. It’s an ongoing journey, which I’m so grateful to be on. The most important thing is to believe in yourself because if you don’t, how could anyone else?