By Bernard Ory, Owner, On Stage Hair Hair Extensions and The Profitable Stylist, Slidell, Louisiana

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After being in the industry for 30 years, I have been to many traditional “hair shows” with hundreds of vendors. I learned and experienced a lot, but there was a big difference when I attended last year’s American Hair Loss Council, HairNow 2021 event in San Diego.

I will admit, on the surface, I was a little apprehensive at the size of the crowd compared to the ticket price, but quickly realized how serious the attendees are about moving forward in their businesses. At a traditional hair show in the past, before our, “new normal,” and depending on what show you went to, there could be between 20,000 and 80,000 stylists attending, depending on what show and city you are attending. 

New For Hair Now 2022

On SATURDAY enjoy the opportunity to see simultaneous demonstrations while networking with industry experts. And of course, the trade show floor will be open all three days. On Sunday and Monday, we will have our popular one-hour sessions.

At the AHLC’s conference in San Diego, there were fewer than 1,000 in attendance, but the level of professionalism and quality of education was completely different. Don’t misunderstand me, I love a huge show, but for different motivational and educational reasons. 

Meeting other business owners, and sharing ideas and experiences during the conference’s covered meals made the conference much more valuable. While getting much-needed help from some who have been in the business much longer, I was also able to share with newer stylists who were just getting into hair replacement. 

When I became a stylist about 30 years ago, I was always on this journey to grow and help more clients get the specialty services that cost a bit, so I could make more money. At first, it was more about making money to support my growing family, but soon after I realized that fewer stylists get trained in the higher end, specialty services and there is less competition at that level. That makes you more appreciated and valuable to the clients getting these services. What a great feeling! Hair extensions and hair replacement services changed my life and the lives of so many of my clients. 

The next big life changer for me was beginning to educate stylists on how to do hair extensions and hair replacement, as well as becoming a distributor of hair extensions. This put me in the position of seeing hair shows and education from a different perspective — the vendor side — as well.

I was told by a friend, Jay Benjamin, with Jon Renau, that I needed to be at the AHLC conference. My first thought was that I’ve been to a few hair replacement meetings and educational events over the years and haven’t really been impressed. Sure, I always learn a little something, but I just wasn’t excited. I decided to attend and check it out and see what the conference offered and to see if I would want to also participate as a vendor in the future.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR HAIR NOW 2022 AND TO VIEW THE HAIR NOW 2021 FAMILY PHOTO ALBUM

A large hair show supports most of the things we learn in hair school, like cutting, coloring, some skincare, and all the products to support those skills. There would also be a few marketing and sales classes. Most stylists are there for the motivation and hope to find something new and exciting to change their lives and possibly their income — and some do, but it’s more about the experience. In my opinion, most stylists, as a whole, are more creative-minded than business-minded. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing, we need both. I believe that’s why the right partnerships, between a creative and an analytical person, can do so well. 

The AHLC conference is on a different level. The sorts of classes and services offered are not taught in most hair schools. This organization brings together the top distributors in the “add on hair” sector, which is a win-win for all involved. 

The attendees comprise the most serious business owners and forward-thinking stylists, ready to make changes, spend money and learn new ways to do and market this almost secret service.

Attendees, like me, are happy to find new ways to grow. For example, I never thought I would be interested in wigs, but my mother lost all her hair recently. Of course, I fully expected to make a full head custom system for her, but she said, “No, I want a wig.” I was compelled to contact Jay, at Jon Renau, about her wig choices. A few days later, I found myself doing two consultations with clients, and he was nice enough to FaceTime us and guide me through the consultation. One client brought a few friends for support. Between those three extra friends and the other consultation, I sold more than $2,000 in wigs in two hours with only a laptop and images on a website. I also ordered five more wigs for my mom to try. She kept three. 

During that conference, I also met a new marketing company, enCompass. We hired them to update and redesign our local salon website as well as create a marketing campaign for our hair replacement and extensions. As a result, we have had new clients every month since we started, including wig sales, extensions, hair replacement, and more regular salon services. Then there was the new partnering with Shanna Moll in long hair bonding for online education. Still to this day, I’m in communication with a few others I met at the conference, which may result in future business relationships. 

The AHLC provides a few meals, which encourages networking in an intimate setting. This was an excellent opportunity to trade ideas and experiences.

Because of my great experience networking, learning about new products, and meeting new people and vendors, I decided this is a great opportunity, not only for my staff and me but also for me
as a vendor. 

So yes, we will have a booth at this year’s AHLC, HairNow 2022 Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. See y’all there.  

Click here to go to the registration page.