How We Got Here – AKA “When Your Planning Meeting Takes An Unexpected Turn…”

Welcome to the first issue of Salon Education Journal! I’ve been tasked with writing our first article, which has to be about what’s brought us here and why I’m writing this. Grab a cuppa and take a comfortable seat, as I tell you how Salon Education Journal came to be (imagine the Disney Tinkerbell wand, the ‘Trrriiiiinnngggg!’ and fairy dust …)

Once upon a time, there was a salon owner, called Sue, who had an idea for a salon-wide education platform. It would operate a little bit like a professional’s directory does for service providers (you know the type – Treatwell, Check-A-Trade), but for education and course sourcing. She’d been in the salon industry for a long time; she had worked hard as a salon and business owner (mobile, events, home, and salon); educator; in competition and trade association management; and had even won some lovely awards! She’d been around the block a few times. Sue knew that there were lots of education providers in the salon industry that were amazing, but that there were also a rising number that were selling poor quality courses leading to unhappy learners and lower quality services. 

Something needed to change! Too many learners of all levels were paying poor quality education providers for bad courses that didn’t give them confidence, the right skills, or even insurable skills, or enough foundation knowledge. Fortunately for Sue, she had a great person who had worked with her on her salon website, socials, and graphics, called Diane, who was a whizz at the techie stuff she wasn’t so good at. Diane helped Sue work out how this idea could be created. Sue put her thinking cap on and created a name that came from a god of wisdom (Nabu) joined with the verb ‘to know’(no), and Nabuno became the name. Diane got busy creating the brand and checking out the tech side. Many conversations followed about how to create what would become Nabuno and over the next 18 months they developed the salon industry’s first education platform and course directory. The platform launched as the pandemic hit – talk about bad timing huh? Nabuno got put on the backburner and they dissolved the business side of it while they waited and waited…

Scroll forward over a lot of stuff we’ve all tried to put behind us between 2020 and 2022 and, wow, did the education sector change over that time. When the UK went into the pandemic, online and remote education as a way of teaching in the industry was often frowned upon, even for theory. During those 2 years everything shifted; as an industry that were sat at home for a long time, we got bored and suddenly online was considered acceptable for many parts of the industry, and for some, not so much. Online theory and business education has been ingrained in the industry and hybrid learning is now the present and the future of learning for practical based skills. 

Two of the many, many Nabuno & SEJ planning meetings

“Something needed to change! Too many learners of all levels were paying poor quality education providers for bad courses.”

They knew things had shifted and that Nabuno hadn’t fulfilled its destiny yet, so they went back to the drawing board and created a new and improved platform. Following a few delays, like Sue moving from Kent to Norfolk and Di moving from Devon to Argyll & Bute in Scotland, amongst some other obstacles, Nabuno relaunched in March 2023. Nabuno v2.0 brings together the power of a salon dedicated course directory with a learning management system that links the education providers’ courses directly to the directory, along with the Nabuno Oracle, a source of information, blogs, and more.

This is really where the seeds of Salon Education Journal were sown. Throughout the process, providing information that is educational, informative, accurate and inspirational was part of their mission. During the ‘wilderness years’, both Sue and Diane continued to work on their own projects. Sue creating her Inspiring Salon Professionals podcast and brand, and Diane managing her creative agency, Enzby Media. Both continued to write content for the Nabuno platform when it returned. 

In July 2023, Diane suggested perhaps a digital 8-page periodical may be a useful tool to provide a new platform to shine a light on Nabuno and share our educational content. She continued to play with imagery and layout in between other tasks and a design format started to shine through. By 6 September, it was a 32-page document and ready for final decisions on content; and so, in their weekly planning meeting, Sue & Diane set aside a portion of the meeting to decide on what was going in. As the conversation progressed, it went from 32 pages to 40. Sue suggested she could ask a couple of associates to write a column and it grew from 40, to 48, to 60- and then the fateful words, “Why don’t we just create a new trade magazine?” were uttered from Diane’s lips (which she may now be regretting just a little) and we all know where that led…

“Why don’t we just create a new trade magazine?”

The Who…

Let’s come back to the real world and leave the fairy dust and the rose-tinted glasses behind. Starting a magazine is not a simple task; starting any major project is not an easy thing, and we knew how hard we’d worked to create both versions of Nabuno and the challenges of bringing it to life were just the start. However, both Diane and I have histories and experiences that are expansive and have the components to make a trade magazine happen. Sue’s background in her corporate career and salon career as an award-winning salon owner & professional, writer, podcaster, and industry advocate with a network of collaborators at her fingertips, and Diane’s as an online marketing, graphic design, publications & advertising expert, position us to be able to deliver something new and something with a different feel to what exists already.

The What…

Salon Education Journal will be packed full of engaging, informational, inspirational, and motivational content and have education at its core, whether the readers are new to industry, seasoned professionals, educators, or industry leaders. Our ground-breaking quarterly print and digital publication is dedicated to serving the thriving salon industry and delivering educational content to enable professionals and businesses to grow and develop their abilities. 

Content created by professionals and experts – a team of industry titans who make up our Collaborative Columnists and who will be joined by guest contributors from within and from outside of industry. 

Affordable advertising opportunities for smaller businesses that want to reach their target market are also available.

Key Features of Salon Education Journal

    • In-depth features that promote education and development across the sector

    • Expert insights from our 28 leading industry experts who have been exclusively invited to join us as Collaborative Columnists and guest contributors

    • Best practices and strategies for salon professionals, salon owners and education providers

    • Spotlighting self-care, and harnessing the power within, to grow as a well-rounded professional or educator

    • Learners and professionals sharing their inspirational career journeys and pathways

    • Advertising opportunities for business of all sizes with transparent and clear pricing

    • Exclusive access to educational resources through our online education platform, Nabuno

The Why… (The Backdrop Why)

With some 209k employed workers in the salon industry, and with a large increase in self-employed workers since the pandemic, there is a recognised shortfall in educational resources within the industry. In 2021/22 there were over 80,000 recognised qualifications taken and a considerable number over and above this that are based in accredited education as foundation or as continuing education. Education is a growth market within the salon industry and one that shows no signs of slowing down. With regulatory change on the horizon for some areas of the industry, education and knowledge surrounding the correct pathways is more vital than ever.

There is a lack of educational direction for newcomers, and even for existing salon professionals, on where to find quality education resources and courses. There is also a significant lack of business and strategic planning education within the ever-growing world of the solopreneur and entrepreneur. SEJ brings together, for the first time, a collection of the industry’s biggest coaching names and business experts from outside the sector. This powerful combination will highlight this important area that regulated and accredited routes of education only have time to touch upon. There isn’t a dedicated education space and between Nabuno and Salon Education Journal that void is filled. [Statistics: British Beauty Council – Value of Beauty Report 2023]

The Gritty Why

We want to bring transparency to the table and so first up, let’s be real about why SEJ has happened. 

We’ve got a lot to say, and we know the rest of the industry has a lot to say too. The industry has changed and is changing still; both professionals and small businesses feel they have little voice and are not heard. The constant refrain is that what is currently on offer does not serve them or their businesses. They do not feel represented, they do not feel heard, they feel overlooked. SEJ is about representing and including all in one place, under a shared roof.

We’ve experienced the challenges of trying to reach our target market in any way other than social media. Whether that’s the prohibitive cost of advertising, getting editorial or even a mention, and building that elusive email list – let’s face it, it’s a tough world out there. There is a glass ceiling that is hard to break through. The consensus amongst professionals is that there is something missing. Smaller brands are beginning to fill a gap when salon businesses are looking to make changes in their client offerings, but they may find it hard to be seen and to build brand awareness. These limitations were the part of the trigger for us creating SEJ. We recognise that collaboration over competition is the way forward and that there is room for everyone. We will welcome larger brands to contribute in editorial and advertising in the magazine, but we will also ensure that we offer a diverse, equal, and inclusive platform that everyone has the same access to so that smaller brands and businesses have the same opportunities to reach the same market. 

So, once we started going through the 8-page, 32-page, 60-page options, we knew we wanted to create a change; we had the knowledge; we had the skill; we had everything we needed within us to create our own doorway; and we knew if we needed a new vehicle to market there were many others who would like to walk through that door with us. The only thing we didn’t have was time, but you know the saying, “Ask a busy person”, yep, we found the time.

The How… What makes us different?

SEJ is something different, something accessible and open to all. Like most professionals, I’ve read my fair share of industry magazines over my time, and I’ve listened to other professionals and readers who want to see something ‘different’, and so we made the decision to take on board comments and readers who want to see something ‘different’, and so we made the decision to take on board comments and observations about the reader experience. SEJ is committed to delivering quality information and articles over product and brand promotion, which is why our advertising space is limited to a lesser portion of our publication. Yes, we know this isn’t the pathway most magazines take, but content will always outweigh advertising rather than be equal to or surpassed. There will always be weighting towards content.

Editorial from Experts & Professionals 

Our editorial delivers real content by real industry experts taking readers behind the curtain. SEJ doesn’t have traditional journalistic reporters, all our content is delivered by professionals with experience in the area they write about. A reflection of the industry – raw, uncut and with a little bit of edge.

We have our Collaborative Columnists who represent a different sector or niche, we have guest contributors, and business and industry experts with international and entrepreneurial experience, and with skills and knowledge built over decades. From nails to hair, mindset to retail growth, lashes to qualifications, beauty to team management, aesthetics to marketing, woo-woo to science, we deliver something for every salon professional no matter what level they are at there will always be useful takeaways. 

The magazine is not about ‘how to’ or technique building guides, it’s about actionable knowledge to help the audience leverage their skills and grow as professionals. If you want to know ‘how to’ on a practical skill, we will always advocate for taking courses and getting involved with an educator by your side.We want to inspire professionals to grow through continuing education.

“We struggled to climb the ladder to reach our audience and so we have built a ladder with no ceiling.”

Advertising for All

Alongside providing editorial space for industry experts to have a new platform to be heard from, we provide a new platform for brands small and large with advertising packages that are inclusive, affordable, and clear. Giving access to smaller brands is part of our mission for change in the industry.  We recognise that every business needs to advertise but most entrepreneurial suppliers struggle with the cost of publication advertising and are missing this audience completely. Salon Education Journal is different, we welcome smaller advertisers and provide premium space at an affordable price. We offer Quarter Page adverts through to DPS Premium space.

Our prices are transparent and fixed, they say what they are, no haggling, no wondering, no obstacles. Those dreaded calls to see if you can afford to advertise won’t be necessary. You can visit our website, find the pricing, work out what you want and get in touch. We want to provide an open door to small businesses to advertise and reach their ideal clients. Salon Education Journal isn’t a cheap substitute, we are an affordable, quality-driven alternative.

“Education doesn’t just come in the form of vocational courses; it is about building broad skills cross more than the ‘how to’ of our day-to-day role, whether we are a salon pro or an education provider. As professionals in the salon industry, we need to learn and understand all elements of how we perform our role regardless of role.”

Louise Searles – Industry Support Network & Salon Education Journal Collaborative Columnist

“Our industry is ready for something new and exciting, disruptive education, inspiration and a reconnection with real stories, small business focus and an affordable showcase platform for all.”

Debbie Lewis – Salon Angels, Nat West Business EcoSystem Manager & Salon Education Journal Collaborative Columnist