Staff / Salon Owner's Summit / Leadership

Nina Tulio on Leadership: Old School Vs New School

4 min

Nina Tulio on Leadership: Old School Vs New School

Bursting onto the 2024 Salon Owners Summit stage as day 2’s first keynote speaker, Nina Tulio was here to get the crowd pumped. Dancing on stage the music blaring from the speakers, she encouraged the audience to do the same, getting the early morning crowd energised and motivated for the day ahead. Her energy was contagious, flowing through the room throughout her talk. A US-based hairstylist and salon owner turned business coach, she’s passionate about all things leadership and has a wealth of experience in the industry. 

Starting with Some Hard-Hitting Questions

Here to talk about leadership, Nina opened her keynote by asking the audience two questions. Her first question, “How many of you feel we’ve had a significant change in the industry in the last 3-5 years?” saw almost the entire crowd raise their hands. The second question is a little more personal, which Tulio prefaced: “Insecurities? Put them on the floor. Fear? Leave it all out, because the only way we’re going to spark change is when we get a mirror, and we hold it in front of ourselves, and we get very honest”

“How many of you have changed along with it?” was her second question, which saw fewer hands raised. “How many of you feel stuck?” 

Getting Personal & Advocating for Change

Leading with honesty after encouraging the audience to consider how they’re running their businesses, Nina then got personal, sharing an anecdote that explained her own experience starting out as a salon owner in the professional hair and beauty industry. 

Candidly, she opened up about the debt, struggles, stress, and insecurity she experienced in her first few years of business, and explained that she felt trapped in a business that weighed her down, and didn’t know how to change; “I was broke, I was in the worst relationship of my life, and I decided to move my salon into a bigger location. The rent was double, and I was so scared, and I had so much fear. But I thought to myself, if I stay here, I’m going to continue to do what always worked… I have to make some moves.”

Knowing that it was sink or swim time, Tulio was inspired to change her business and her life. By taking risks, embracing change, and revamping the way she managed the business, Tulio was able to turn her business around, growing by 20-30% year-on-year, experiencing huge profits, and opening new locations. A change of mindset is what it took to spark all of this. 

Leaning on Change to Create a More Successful Future

If change is required to make a stagnant business successful, why don’t people just do it? According to Tulio, the two major things that stop business owners from embracing change are:

  • Getting stuck in a certain mindset, by accepting “this is how we’ve always done it”
  • Fear of the unknown

“With change, we get so nervous that we’re going to fail that fear creeps in.” she explained. “And fear keeps us stuck” If you truly want success, you must have a mindset that wants it and a willingness to shake up what you’re used to. One step in the right direction, said Tulio, is to ensure that your goal or the need for change is more important than the fear you may feel. “If you don’t put a why behind the goals you’re setting… they don’t mean anything.” 

While change may feel overwhelming at first, Tulio reassured the audience that it doesn’t always have to be monumental. “Maybe it’s just a tweak to your thinking” that can have a knock-on effect for the success of your salon business.

How Important is Leadership When It Comes to Change?

As the owner or leader of a business, assuming responsibility when things are going positively and negatively in the salon or spa is a must, said Nina. That’s why breaking from “old mindsets” that hinder your success are so important. Tulio then broke down the difference between “new and old” mindsets.

Salon owners with old mindsets, where “fear is leading the way”:

  • Are inflexible
  • Think they have control over their clients
  • Do not invest in their team
  • Think they have control over their team
  • Implement product fees
  • Offer 1-2 year assistant programmes

Salon owners with new mindsets, where “confidence is leading the way”: 

  • Have confidence in their team and business
  • Are more brand and team-focused than client-focused
  • Invest in education and coaching for their team
  • Understand that stylists sometimes leave, and don’t chastise them for this
  • Deeply understand pricing and budget properly
  • Streamline their training process

In Nina’s experience, adopting a “new mindset” is key to success. But how do you get there?

Taking Steps from Fear to Confidence

“Things do not change in business unless the people in business change,” noted Tulio, sharing five actionable steps to help salon owners break free from the “old mindset” way of thinking and into the “new mindset.” These included:

  1. Knowing who you are and what you stand for; you must understand your core values, your belief system, your clients, and what you stand for.
  2. Creating actionable core values for your business and team to drive motivation and guide the running of your business
  3. Focusing on the things that you can control, such as your team, your brand, your training structure etc, and don’t stress about the things you can’t control
  4. Creating a people-first culture where the team feels valued, and people communicate openly and honestly
  5. Learning about and deeply understanding your finances

Embracing Change & New Mindsets

After equipping the audience with a range of tools to help them rethink their businesses, mindset, and team structure, Tulio ended with another solid piece of advice, encouraging the team to choose just one small thing to change when they leave the Summit, and pay attention to the difference it makes. Ending to a round of applause, Nina exits the stage, leaving an energised, motivated, and uplifted crowd behind her. 

Feeling the Salon Owners Summit FOMO?

Want to make sure you’re in the room to hear insightful talks like this next year? Get your tickets for the next Salon Owners Summit!

Keep Learning from the Experts

Read more of the 2024 Salon Owners Summit Recaps.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Keep reading