Lynden Mason and James Carlisle’s foray into the hair industry had an unlikely start in the world of optometry. James co-owned a practice with his wife, an optometrist, and as if fate had a hand in it they kept bumping into Lynden, also an optometrist, at various events.
Eventually the duo discovered a shared love of business, and ultimately went into partnership together, developing 10 successful optometry practices across the North Island. So, how did optometry turn into hair and beauty? “Growth and change is a huge driver for us,” Lynden says. “We ran out of opportunities to grow our optometry business, so we were looking for a new venture.” In 2010 a business broker convinced them to take a look at a hair salon that was for sale, which soon became the first Vivo Hair Salon. “Our skill set was a great match for an industry that was surprisingly similar to optometry in terms of being all about professional services, but with much more potential”.
Their instincts proved correct. As a family run, privately owned company, Vivo employs 650 staff in 85 salons across NZ. “Because we are not a franchise, it means we can be flexible in how we do things,” James points out. However, the company values of Grow It, Love It and Own It keep teams across New Zealand on the same page, encouraging them to engage in delivering excellence, creativity and passion. It’s obvious why James and Lynden have been at the vanguard of so much change in the hairdressing world. “When we first got into the industry, we were shocked by how many stylists said they were bored and overworked.” They saw industry that was unregulated, with huge opportunity to revolutionise it through applying professional standards. At the core of this goal emerged an unprecedented training and education programme for Vivo staff. “The cost of the training we do is enormous, but the cost of not doing it is too big to even contemplate.” emphasises James. This means staff can confidently stand by the famous Vivo ‘Hair you love, or your money back’ client guarantee.
What makes coming to work at Vivo so enjoyable for them? James answers, “It is really incredible to work in an industry where every day we get to make our clients feel their best. That’s behind everything we do at Vivo.” Lynden agrees, adding. “Who wouldn’t want to work in a company whose purpose is to make people feel amazing? People will leave a job, but they won’t leave a career. It’s a natural human desire to love what you do”.
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