With a salon in Kingston, twelve employees and the 2015 Australian Salon of the Year Award under her belt, it’s easy to assume that Jenni Tarrant has always had hairdressing and business figured out.
But the three-decade industry veteran and owner of Bond Hair Religion says this is definitely not the case.
“When I first took over the salon I was a hairdresser who was clueless about business. I made a lot of mistakes. I did a lot of things wrong. There were tears and all sorts of horrendous things,” she says.
“What I know now is that with every sadness there’s a lesson to be learned, and from every lesson I try to grow. I love running a business and having a team, and everything that I do in life is about trying to do a little better each day.”
Jenni is a finalist in the 2015 ACT Telstra Business Women’s Awards and the 2015 Canberra Women in Business Awards. She was also awarded the Lifeline Woman of Spirit Award in 2013 for overcoming adversity and providing support to others in the community.
She says that winning awards boosts Bond Hair Religion’s profile and encourages her team to do their best work. But she also hopes her achievements inspire others to overcome the odds and pursue their business ideas.
“I hope I can help other people who’ve been through difficult times. I’m dyslexic, but I do all my own books and I run an award-winning salon, so it is possible,” she says.
“As I say to my son, people can climb mountains with no legs. The things that have happened to you in your past aren’t you – they’re things that have happened to you. Once you realise that, you can do anything.”
In addition to running Bond Hair Religion, Jenni is an ambassador for the Canberra-based This is Not a Wife Beater campaign, which challenges attitudes, stereotypes and behaviours that minimise and condone partner and family violence.
One of the biggest changes she’s seen during her time in salons is that hairdressers are now better recognised – deservedly so – for their intellect, creativity and interpersonal skills.
“[Hairdressers are] no longer known as dopey, tarty women or gay men. There’s a really sad belief system about hairdressing that’s slowly starting to change,” she says.
“It actually takes a lot of skill and emotional intelligence to be a good hairdresser. You need brains, you need to be creative and you need to be able to relate to people.”
In a similar vein, she says it’s also good to see Canberra receive national and international attention as a great place to live, work and visit.
“We actually have some really cool businesses here. We’re not all politicians. Canberra is an amazing place and it’s nice for our city to be recognised for what its people can do.”
And while Jenni counts politicians, business people and entrepreneurs among her clients, she says that those in high profile positions are treated the same as any random person who walks in off the street.
“I don’t care whether you clean toilets for a living or you’re the prime minister. I’ll treat you exactly the same,” she says.