ASHLEY: Welcome to Outgrowth: A Slice of Pro Beauty with your hosts Ashley Gregory Hackett.
JAIME: And Jaime Schrabeck. For this week’s episode, we’re talking about the newly announced Amazon Salon, and we won’t be alone.
ASHLEY: We’re excited to welcome members of Outgrowth Insiders in what promises to be a lively discussion. Let’s grow together.
ASHLEY: Jaime, this is one of the favorite discussions we’ve had on the podcast and I’m so excited that we got to share it with some of our Outgrowth Insiders members.
JAIME: Now I can’t even imagine having this discussion without them.
ASHLEY: Yeah, well, and it is such a nuanced and well thought out conversation between members of so many different disciplines. It’s a very worthwhile conversation and I’m really excited to share this as well with our listeners.
JAIME: We’ll be hearing from multiple members of Outgrowth Insiders and we’ll link their contact information in our show notes if you want to get a hold of them.
ASHLEY: Definitely. All right. Well, let’s get on with the conversation.
ASHLEY: What you’re hearing here on the podcast is likely just a very small percentage of the fabulous conversations that we have monthly in Outgrowth Insiders. So I think today is going to be pretty lively, Jaime, what about you?
JAIME: I think so, too, and beyond even having these conversations within insiders to the entire group, I like the fact that Insiders feel confident enough to reach out to us privately to share their thoughts or some recent news article. And that’s actually how the first topic came to my attention. I have to credit Alicia who’s in the group with us today for bringing up the topic of Amazon salons.
ASHLEY: It all goes down in the DMs, as they say, but I’m really excited to talk about this because I think I may have a slightly different take on Amazon Salon than the rest of the industry. So I’m ready to play devil’s advocate, as if that doesn’t happen enough.
JAIME: And at this point now, it’s just Amazon Salon. And if you read the articles that were published by some of our industry’s sources, the newsletters that we get, the email and that sort of thing. What I did was I went back to the original blog post that Amazon made announcing the salon and there was a slightly different take on that. And I was able to discover some additional information, of course, considering the source. It was coming directly from Amazon. So of course they’re going to paint it in the best light, but some of the phrases that they use to describe Amazon Salon really struck me as being perhaps a bit disingenuous for those of us who are in the industry already and we have a different reaction perhaps to what they might expect.
ASHLEY: A lot of superlative language being used. I read that as well. Now, for those of you who aren’t caught up to what’s happening, and of course we’ll link all of these sources in the show notes, but this is happening in London. Amazon UK has opened a salon space in London and there’s a lot of technology being introduced or relied on in this setting to make it seem very high-tech and state of the art.
JAIME: And when I think of a salon, because I’m a service provider, I always think of the priority being services, but in this case, being Amazon, products are going to take priority.
ASHLEY: And that may not be the worst thing if, well, we could get into this when we get into this, but I think that there is a bit of a disconnect that Amazon is seeing in our industry between retail and services, and how those things fit together, and I’m really excited to talk about why Amazon thinks that that’s happening.
JAIME: I’m not sure they’re going to actually give us that insight because all of the publicity is going to be around how what they’re doing, let me quote this: “The salon is the latest initiative designed to support the professional beauty industry.”
ASHLEY: Well, Amazon in pro beauty is not something that is very new. We’ve watched it evolve from moving from diversion into Amazon actually opening a pro beauty store where stylists and beauty providers can create sort of a commissioned type page and you can create your own Amazon page. You can send your clients there. And to them, it’s the best of both worlds because a lot of your clients are going to Amazon anyway instead of purchasing in the salon. But here they’re making it seem like they’re being a friend to the professional by creating this platform. But I’ve heard that there’s been some very varied experiences.
JAIME: The reactions have been swift and fierce, and I think mainly hairstylists who have been responding to this. And granted, these are hairstylists in the US. And I’m not sure whether are we going to trust Amazon when they say that there are no plans to open additional ones. Are you kidding me? Like if this takes off, we know what’s going to happen because it’s just the start of something that they can recreate in multiple locations, sell the products, ship them from a warehouse or whatever they’re going to do.
ASHLEY: Well, and my guess, again, looking into the crystal ball is that this is an experiential marketing situation where they’re opening this one salon to get brand awareness, and the fact that they offer these options, and that there’s pro beauty available for purchase on Amazon. The way that the client experience seems to go is that the customer can point their phone at a product on the shelf, and it takes them to brand videos, educational content about the product, and then they can just basically order it, and have it delivered to their home. There’s an AR component as well to trying out different hair color, styles, different lengths, all of those sorts of things. And I think that is also a bit of a disconnect from where AR meets actual reality and what the expectation is on the client side that’s being created. But I would love to hear from our insiders about this and their thoughts on what this means for the beauty industry at large and if we’re going to start to see more of this kind of salon, that’s more about, I guess, the experience and the purchasing than it is necessarily about the result.
JAIME: Let’s hear from Wendy first.
WENDY: Yeah. So, hey, one of the things that’s interesting about Amazon from a skincare perspective since I am an esthetician, and I’m gonna chime in from that voice, is Amazon has cut deals with some of the bigger companies and said that we will only protect you from diversion If you sign a deal with us and sell your product through our format. Okay, so Image skincare is one of the big ones to first go in and and do that because they are kind of slowly being sold off completely into bigger entities. And so a lot of people were really very upset by that that are professionals and so that made a big impact on their company. But they sell directly on Amazon. But one of the things that happens is with their analytics. They go in, and they watch what is selling, and then they come in, and they find your products, your vitamin C formula or whatever, and they duplicate and, you know, tweak a little bit your product, and then they produce their own, and sell it up against yours. Nobody’s going to like that. And then, you know, from the perspective that there is that Amazon store that’s up in Seattle, if they’re allowing you to put it in your cart and have it delivered that seems repetitive. If you’re at the Amazon salon in person, for some reason, why not pick it up off the shelf and take it home with you? That is a lesser carbon footprint to do that right there than send it in a box with plastic stepping, and put it in a truck, and redeliver it yet again. And there’s also, you know, from that Amazon store up in Seattle, there’s a visual identification that tracks you as you come in the door and then it just charges your account when you walk out with it. And it’s pretty crazy technology and I’m sure a lot of people are not going to be very excited by that. I have mixed feelings on it because from an esthetic standpoint, you go in, the door’s closed and it’s you and I in a room so they really won’t be able to track that for privacy reasons cause hopefully Amazon is not viewing folks that are half naked under a sheet.
ASHLEY: Hopefully, that is not happening. And I love the points that you raised because that to me gives some pause about privacy. We have stores like that here in Chicago. It’s mostly in the loop near the financial district. You can come in and grab lunch items type of thing, walk out very similar to how they do it at Whole Foods. And I guess I’m concerned from the client side of things that it does feel very impersonal having all of this technology involved. I don’t know if this is something that can actually be done here in Illinois because we have some of the strictest biometric privacy laws in the world and being part of AR, having your likeness sent offsite to do whatever, I don’t think that that’s something that our state law would allow. So that’s another kind of fun little junction to figure out. Can you even have this happen near you? Is this something that you even need to worry about? But Alicia, I would love to get your take on what your thoughts are about this, what your initial reaction was, and now that you’ve had some time to marinate on it, how you’re feeling.
ALICIA: Oh boy, so many things, so many things. First and foremost, what struck me is obviously there’s some manufacturers that are behind this, right? And we can also sidebar that, and say that there’s chain salons that work with manufacturers. Which means if you’re ordering that volume even to say a beauty school or even a large salon, depending on what your output is every month, you can get a generous, discount, right, which allows for us to keep our overhead down, which also can allow us to maybe do services for a little less on the backend, right? They also brought in 85 people, staff, to perform hair services ultimately. So they’re obviously expecting to be busy. There are more and more salons that are going more on the QR side with suites and studios per se here in California. What I’m seeing is a really, really big downside of retail is that now if, especially if, you’re subletting, right? I offer my sublets to have some space in my salon, but I’m reading more and more and I’m listening to more and more people talk about it’s not, it’s not worth it. It’s, it’s too much money. I don’t sell enough. Typically, the numbers are askewed. Last I heard two days ago, it was 6% of us actually do retail. So that being said, our clients are going to go somewhere, right? So if you fight retail, cause I kind of fight it myself, I’ve done it my whole career. I’ll be the first one to admit it. I still offer it, but the client’s going to buy it somewhere, whether that be a Costco. We’ve survived Ulta. We’ve survived Sephora. We’ve survived Sally Beauty Supply so far. We’ve survived chain salons. One thing you brought up earlier, Ashley, about us being in the states is I was actually in a Clubhouse the day before yesterday and the reason I jumped on was because they’re in London. So I was really interested to hear what they had to say. My biggest takeaways from the conversation is it’s still really new, right? And when I was mentioning our local Targets and CVS as in, and grocery stores and drug stores, selling products, they don’t have the saturation that we have here in the states. So I’m wondering long-term what that’s going to look like. Like Wendy said, I have mixed emotions. On one hand. I’m not surprised at all. I am a firm believer that there’s no such thing as diversion at this state of the game. You would not find the saturation that we see whether it be a Nordstrom Rack, or a Safeway, or a Von’s or depending on what state you live in, and where you shop, and where you get your band-aids. We wouldn’t see the saturation that we see with AKA professional products unless the manufacturers were actually doing direct sales. End of story. So there aren’t enough of us professionally to go across the board, not just in California, to pay for R & D, research and development. They make their money on consumers. So when we look at like the beauty industry and those numbers are also very askewed when I think, okay, $60 billion? I just heard that the other day and I’m like, okay, well, I know it’s not all of us and our clients that are doing that. You know, they’re buying their shampoo and conditioner, their mascara, their what have you, and typically they’re not buying it from us, so they’re going to buy it somewhere.
ASHLEY: You’ve made so many great salient points here. I just wanted to piggyback off of what you just said, Alicia, in that, if Amazon didn’t see an opportunity here, they wouldn’t be here. Whether you want to lay blame with the manufacturers, the distributors, the stylists themselves, I look at it very similar to cabs and Uber and how they saw an opportunity to strike and say, look, we’re all about retail. We’re all about products. We have the distribution channels already ready to go. So let’s just slide in here and see if we can expand on another market. So what is our role as individual beauty professionals in whether we reject to do retail entirely, and we just let our clients purchase that diverted product, and say, go with God, enjoy. Or is this a situation really of our own creation? Or can we bring it back to the manufacturers and say, diverted product still needs to be made somewhere, right? So whether they’re selling off wholesale lots and just allowing it to end up in Target, I think everybody has a hand in this.
WENDY: Our industry kind of screwed ourselves on this. I hate to say it, but, we thrive on this whole, ooh, I don’t like sales. I don’t like selling to my clients, right? I mean, so honestly, smart estheticians are not going to be giving a facial and, and having folks walk out the door without a product, This is how we make our money. If I’m going to charge you a hundred bucks for a facial, you’re going to walk out with $200 worth of product to continue to do the work that I need you to do during the month to keep up the results that I just gave you and started for you. So our industry really needs to take a big shift in their mentality and stop this whole, I don’t like selling. And then they go online and they complain all day long about how everybody’s going to Amazon, or going to Sephora, or going wherever those smart marketing people are and taking our sales out of our pockets. It’s because you started your attitude way back in the day saying, I don’t like being pushy. I didn’t get into this for sales. Guess what? You did if you decided to like do this as a living. I know you like just cutting hair or you like just doing lashes and that sort of thing, but if you want to run a business, you have to retail. You have to sell that product to them before they walk out the door, and buy it for $2 cheaper, and have it put in a plastic bag and a carton, and have it sent from here to there. Pick up your marketing skills and start doing this. It’s not wrong for you to do this. It’s not a bad thing for you to stand up and say, hey, I’m really recommending that you buy this from me to help keep small business in place. too. And I feel that our industry really needs to start changing their attitudes because you can’t turn around and complain about it. That’s why they’re running us over right now.
JAIME: I will say that in the past, if you look at an Ulta, for example, the stylists were in the back to legitimize the fact that those professional products were being sold in the store. And we know that their proportion of sales, retail to service were completely skewed to retail because people were going there to buy products, not necessarily to have services done. And now I’m concerned that the relationship that will be built under this new platform with the Amazon Salon is between the Amazon customer and Amazon. Again, the stylists really aren’t doing much at all. And it’s just like the comparison that Ashley made with Uber. It was never about the drivers. It was never about the quality of the drivers, or even how nice their cars were, or anything like that.
It’s just a means to get from point A to point B. And so now these stylists who, I’m a professional and I’m this and I’m that. It’s all about my skills. Is it really? Because before long Amazon is going to figure out how to deliver the service without a human being involved.
ASHLEY: And Amazon was incredibly smart to start this in the UK because let’s look at how there is really no direct equivalency between the beauty industry in the UK and the beauty industry in the United States just based on certification, licensure education, all of that. We know that hair cutting and hair dressing is really what the UK is known for, but if you’re looking and still extrapolating on this Uber example, how were these professionals being compensated? If you look at what’s happening with the union fight here with Amazon in the south, and how that was struck down, and just the really dirty tactics being used by Amazon to keep that union vote from happening, as well as is Amazon hiring these stylists on as employees? Are they vetted? Do they have to do a certain level of certification? Again, Amazon is presenting itself as the tool, and trying to play both ends of this game where they’re a tool for the stylist to make more money, right? And they’re a tool for the consumer to get their hands on their products and now services. But what I’m seeing is that Amazon is just really, they’re taking advantage of both ends by, by creating this, in my opinion, unsustainable business model. In this entire equation who’s getting screwed, right? It’s not Amazon. It will never be Amazon, especially when we’re playing in their arena. So, Alicia, I saw you had, more to add. I’m, I’m excited to hear.
ALICIA: Yeah, thanks. To tag onto what you said earlier, Ashley, and what Wendy was saying, is that personally, I’m not blaming anyone. I mean, I saw this coming like a runaway freight train, but the shaming and then the kind of victim blaming or how do we want to say that? To like you were just saying earlier is that, where’s our piece? Where I ended the Clubhouse the other day was if we’re that threatened by it, then I would promote that we look at that as an opportunity to fill in some sort of gap. Like Wendy was saying, like, what’s our retail look like? And then to sidebar from that though, do I anticipate that my clientele would go to an Amazon salon if it opened up in the San Francisco Bay area where I’m located? No. My price point, they are still 40% of them at this point, but they’re able to hang with me. We look at chain salons and that, and I’m not bashing them, but they offer services, a lot of talent. They have discounts. However, they’re discounted, again, because it’s based on volume. It’s not to say that they’re worse or better or whatever. So I’m not really worried clientele wise, but I know a lot of other people are, and again, it’s, it’s all based on retail.
ASHLEY: Wendy, I want to come back to you and have you kind of expand upon that because I know you’re coming from skincare and you’ve got some good insights as well into the product side of things and what happens for brands when it comes to this whole arrangement.
WENDY: Yeah, I feel that If anybody’s going to try it, it’s probably going to be the novelty thing. You know what I mean? Like if the consumer gets, say the Amazon spa, salon, or whatever it ends up being, has like these novelty convenience hours. So if I’m working my butt off and I don’t get off of work until eight o’clock at night, and there’s 85 people lined up waiting to cut people’s hair at nine o’clock at night, I might be tempted to do it because then I have to take, you know, or maybe I work hourly as a restaurant worker or something like that and I can’t take those premium times off in the middle of the day because I’m juggling, you know, homeschooling my kids still or whatever’s going on. So I feel that if they have like convenience hours that will happen, and a ton of people waiting there, and just like ready to pounce, I don’t know. Are these stylists going in there and saying, hey, I’m brand new out of school or, you know, just learning, trying to build my business? Are they rotating in and out like that and they’re attempting to poach our new clients that we’ll try them first? I mean it kind of seems like a, not to name drop here, but, you know, a Supercuts, a Fantastic Sam’s. If you’re just going in for a trim, maybe it ends up being that sort of salon and they try and compete on that level of just getting the, the bottom of your hair cut off. I don’t know that the folks that really spend the money in salons are going to want to do this because they know Alicia, they know all of you all, they know me, they know what I’m going to do for them is a lot different than what you get in your standard, big box chain like a European Wax Center, or like going to a Supercuts or something like that. I feel that consumers may be enticed by these convenience hours. They might try it once and then go, I hate this haircut. And they’re like, oh, I should never have cheated on my stylist and have a little bit of regret about it. But then again, if their schedule gets busy and they’re like, uh, just gotta get these ends taken care of or, you know, my lashes touched up or whatever this ends up being from the esthetic standpoint, I feel they’ll be tempted the first time, and maybe a second time, and probably come back to their original stylists.
JAIME: Here’s something that I don’t think was necessarily the focus of the blog post announcement that Amazon made, but it was the thing that a Forbes writer picked up on as being most newsworthy and that was the augmented reality aspect of what Amazon plans to do. And as we all know with clients who are showing us photos, they’re showing us things they’ve pulled from Instagram or Pinterest or whatever, and this is what they want. There is still the possibility, and Ashley and I have discussed this privately, of a complete disconnect between the client’s expectation and the actual delivery of that result because so many things happen in between. It’s not like just handing them a finished product. You have to take into account the condition of their hair, their skin, their nails, and, you know, what’s reasonable to achieve based on not only what you’re presented with, but what they’ve done to their hair, skin and nails, even before they entered the salon.
ASHLEY: Well, and Victoria entered here in the chat. Her point was the more middlemen you add, the less profit there is for the salon, so really what’s the point? And if you want to read between the lines here, I think that that’s Amazon’s eventual goal is to just cut out the beauty professional entirely, and speak directly to the consumer, and get them matched up with whatever product is going to meet their needs. Now it seems as though this is an industry where we can’t be replaced by robots but. Jaime, I just sent you an article, through Facebook messenger about a nail painting robot that is currently on Kickstarter for backers to back where it gives you a gel manicure. You just stick your hand in it, and apparently it paints your nails, and dries them within 10 minutes. And then you have to do your thumb separately because even the robots can’t account for the thumbs. So if we’re thinking about augmented reality and the role of technology in beauty services, I know Alicia just mentioned Madison Reed mastering the art of the online consultation. This really throws the gauntlet down for us to look at what our strengths are in in-person services, and provide results that can be beyond whatever a filter may show you, and really bring it back to the personal element, which has been very difficult through COVID.
JAIME: Let me add this. The point that Victoria makes about the middleman is true of the manufacturers as well as we talked earlier and the point was brought up that if they’re going to be knocking off the products, that was Wendy’s contribution and her first comment, and they knock off the service providers, all that’s left is Amazon and the clients.
WENDY: And a bunch of plastic packaging.
ASHLEY: Let’s look at the role of branding here. When I think of Amazon, I think of a brown box. I think of something slightly dirty. I have to wash my hands after I open my purchase. I don’t equate it necessarily with luxury. I think it completely depends on what you purchase through Amazon. There’s got to be, and this to me is the reason they’re doing this entire salon thing is to create the connection between Amazon, and luxury, and self care, and all of the things that we offer, and throwing their hat in the ring and saying, well, oh, we do that too. We do that, too. Come and see our stylists and turn your hair pink on our computer.
ALICIA: I often wonder about that because it’s like they’re really going after the client. They want to know how our client buys. If the client invests in a chemical service, are they apt to buy more product, and if they do, what types of products are they purchasing? If they’re getting a haircut, are they only purchasing a mousse, or a gel, or a blowout gelee? So they’re really looking for, they already know the clients are buying online. So what they’re really trying to hone in on, I think they’ve made it pretty clear, is they want firsthand information on how our clients purchase. And again, getting back to what Wendy was saying, there’s a missing link. This is supply and demand. This is a great opportunity for them and at our cost because of how we have either run our businesses or maybe not run.
ASHLEY: Amanda’s in the chat and she just mentioned that even if they do have convenience hours, she believes that her clients have actually learned flexibility through COVID shutdowns and are much more flexible in their expectation. And so she thinks that 95% of her clientele was more content with waiting versus trying someone else. And she doesn’t think that they’ll go for the Amazon convenience over experience and results. So it’s kind of the devil, you know, right, versus the one that just wants you to have a product in your hand when you leave.
WENDY: I don’t know. Do the bulk of consumers have to have a special stylist? I mean, a lot of men,you know, they don’t necessarily go to the same barber every time.
ASHLEY: And that’s unfortunately where a lot of the view of our industry is made because we know. in general, in politics, and through the deregulation conversation that Jaime and I have had on this podcast, it is mostly men who have, in general, a limited experience with the beauty industry through haircuts once a month, showing up getting their same, you know, high and tight, and then saying how hard can it be? My wife buys her hair color at Target. So, Jaime, I would love to know more about your thoughts on what this may mean for deregulation and if we have hurt ourselves through COVID by coaching our clients through what they can do and achieve at home,
JAIME: Let me just comment on what you were just discussing and that is that Amazon is going after the luxury client first makes perfect sense because no luxury brand starts with the bottom and works up. They start at the top and dumb it down, right? So ultimately they may take out the Great Clips, or the Supercuts, or that sort of thing, but they’re going to start with that luxury client first. And if they can capture them and establish the desirability of the brand as far as Amazon Salon goes, then they can water it down from there and they can capture all of those people who don’t care who cut their hair, right? It doesn’t really matter. But going back to the last thing you asked Ashley about the deregulation, we talk about advocacy. We talk about our voice matters. If we have to compete against an Amazon lobbyist to get our points made in front of state legislatures, I don’t relish that idea at all.
ASHLEY: Amazon doesn’t do anything halfway, right? And they definitely do their research. This whole Amazon professional thing, this whole platform, they were at shows two years ago talking to manufacturers and seeing what was happening in the industry. So the call’s coming from inside the house. We have to be vigilant with what we do well and the connections that we make. Victoria entered here into the chat that we’re in a new generation of instant gratification. So it isn’t like 20 years ago where you would be willing to wait for your appointment, and wait for the instant hair color, and your extensions, or whatever. It’s all about client relationships and retail, which I completely agree with. When we started this episode, I was worried that I was going to be the only one saying we did this to ourselves. And now I see, again, because Insiders are so insightful, we are amongst friends and a lot of like-minded individuals, even though we do come from very different disciplines. And so I would love to extrapolate this out and ask, since hair is the largest part of our industry, it’s the biggest chunk, where do we see this going next in beauty and what can we as pros do about it to make us less desirable to the Amazons out there?
WENDY: It’s going to go to lashes. It’s going to go to lashes. I have a feeling. I mean, that would be my gut feeling because lashes are just so hot and if you can’t get lashes, you’re going to get strip lashes. And that’s super easy for Amazon to market and retail, and from there they’re going to sell this safe serums that work around your lashes so you have the retention and everything else like that. So I hope Amazon isn’t listening to what I’m saying because I feel one of the big ones that will slip fast and hard is going to be the lash industry.
JAIME: And we’ve seen just the example of the Amazon warehouse workers and the effort to quash any sort of union there brings home the point that for every ad I saw on Twitter recently having to do with Amazon, the first thing they lead with is that we pay $15 an hour everywhere across the US. So of course they’re pitching themselves as being a champion of the working class because they’re already meeting what most would agree would be the bare minimum, actually, even though we know the US is far behind that in terms of its minimum wage. So if that’s the threshold, I worry about how all of this will end up dehumanizing us as service providers even more. When we talk about different groups in our industry being invisible already, what if we all were invisible in terms of what we provided and we’re just really a cog in this delivery mechanism until they can figure out how we can be replaced with something that doesn’t require lunch breaks?
ASHLEY: That and, if we’re going to continue again through our Uber example, I would be just really curious to see what the compensation looks like for these stylists in this Amazon Salon. I would also want to know what’s their commission percentage and how does that spill into the client experience? What’s the win here for the client? Is it convenience? Is it a quick turnaround? Is it, you know, like Wendy mentioned, the good hours, the convenience hours? I think we have to do almost like a SWOT analysis of this as individual beauty providers and say, okay, how are they threatening my business and what can I find is my point of difference to completely combat that?
ALICIA: I think that, um, first and foremost is, like Wendy was saying, with a staff of 85 people, it’s 1500 square feet. I mean, we know that that’s how many square feet they have. It’s upstairs, downstairs. How many people are on the floor? We’re not going to know it’s all so new, but with a staff of 85, then you’re able to take walk-ins. You’re able to get that eight o’clock, nine o’clock appointment. I need a quick touch up. I need a bang trim. I need that, oh, and by the way, while I’m here, let me get that product in my hand or better yet, you can just send it to me. So I think essentially it’s going to be convenience and one-stop shopping.
WENDY: I think culturally it’s going to extend that whole “we can just walk into any nail shop and get an appointment right now” attitude. And that is something that we also, along with “I hate selling,” we need to really start working on supporting the nail industry and in an effort to start getting back to appointments required, not just these just walk in off the street and expect it because they can do it on any corner. And then when they come to us and they’re all offended that, that we don’t have walk-in hours and walk-in ability, it’s like I’m one person in a room. I’m sorry I’m making you mad right now. But you know, we, we also, as an industry, need to start helping and supporting the nail industry and putting their foot down about walk in off the street and expect that to happen because I feel that that’s something that really kind of diminishes our services and our look to, you know, even the lawmakers, who are just so like, well, anyone can do this. Look, I can just walk in off the street and I can get somebody to cut my hair, and shave my face, and do my nails.
ASHLEY: The greatest threat to me, in my opinion, to a lack of walk-in nail services is the at-home gel kit and that’s what Amazon is seeing. And so the only silver lining through the coronavirus was the fact that we have now been able to train our client pool to understand that they need an appointment. And so this will completely undo that good level set that happened throughout coronavirus was that you can’t just walk into anywhere now without a mask, and an appointment, and a reason to be there. So I’m interested to see what happens with that as well. But another part of this is, if this does come to the US and, and to North America in general, what do we think the role of influencers will be in supporting this effort because there may be a big payday that comes with partnering with Amazon?
JAIME: It won’t be me. I don’t expect that I’m going to be affiliated with Amazon in the future, but, you know, never say never because it would depend on what it looks like. And if there were an opportunity to work with Amazon in some way that it helps solve our labor problems which doesn’t seem very likely, but talk about an opportunity for our industry, if there ever were one to unionize. If you have had so many people working for an Amazon Salon that they had the numbers and could unionize, that would be a shocker, I think, to our industry. That would change everything. What I don’t understand because I don’t know enough details about it, is exactly what is the relationship between the service providers and Amazon. Is the Neville salon, is that sort of acting as like the labor source? Are they like the contractor, and then they hire the people or are the workers like directly employees of Amazon? That’s something I don’t know yet.
ASHLEY: Yeah. That’s a good point because then that muddies the waters as well to independent contractor and are people getting meal breaks? Are people getting treated fairly? And then it becomes a labor issue. It’s like, as soon as Amazon gets involved, it just becomes a labor issue no matter the industry. And so Trish, I know you have something that you wanted to share.
TRISH: Yeah, I’m kind of along those lines. Like I’ve been hearing a lot of people talk about how drivers are being treated in the Amazon trucks, and how they don’t get bathroom breaks, and all that kind of stuff. And so I kind of wonder if like an Amazon Salon, how they would run that? Like, I wouldn’t want to work for them.
ASHLEY: That’s a great point. And it comes back to, are we skilled labor? Because we have to be licensed and certified or does Amazon take another shortcut there and make sure that the services being offered are things that anybody could do, like a file and a paint for us nail technicians. So I always say this on the podcast. I always say, we’ll see, but we definitely will. Time will tell on what this salon, what impact it has on the pro beauty, and how we relate to each other as beauty professionals, and the role of retail in our salons, just full stop.
JAIME: As the beauty shows come back, will we see a presence of Amazon there?
Will they be there recruiting brands, staff? Will they be opening their own schools? I mean, there are so many ways that they could have an outsized impact on our industry just through brute force because they have the resources. They have the reach. They already have data on so many of us and we entrust Amazon to meet our every need. And the instant gratification that a number of you have mentioned previously is something that we have become really accustomed to. And we get a little snitty when not going to get there in two days or the driver shows up later than we think. I mean, that’s just one of those things. And then we don’t really think about how did this actually get here? Like how did this product make its way from a shelf in a warehouse to my doorstep? It’s that time that we are not experiencing. Whereas as clients, we cannot get away with that. We are having to spend time with the service provider and as service providers, we can’t get away with not spending time with our clients. We are literally hands-on with them and that’s part of this that’s much harder to navigate. And I think Amazon’s going to find that perhaps stylists are going to be more vocal in explaining what they like and don’t like about working at an Amazon salon. Whereas, you know, drivers have a hard time getting their point across through social media and they don’t want to bitch at the person whose seated in their car because they know they’re going to get a bad review. So what are reviews going to look like for independent stylists working at an Amazon Salon? I worry for them.
ASHLEY: I know that we could go on and on and on, and maybe we’ll have to do a part two in order to really look at this from every angle. We had several other topics to cover in our outline, and I know that is definitely not going to happen, but I just want to thank everybody for participating and first of all, for being an Insider. We really appreciate you and for giving us of your time, but this has been just a great conversation. I really, I appreciate all of your viewpoints and all of your specialized knowledge coming from different disciplines so this is going to be, I think, one of our best episodes ever.
JAIME: Thank you so much, everyone.
JAIME: Ashley, this topic warrants a part two in the future.
ASHLEY: Definitely, I can’t wait to see what happens with Amazon Salon and see if some of our many questions were answered. So stay tuned and of course, subscribe to Outgrowth podcast on your favorite podcast platform to make sure you’re first in line for part two.
JAIME: Can we say that we wish Amazon well?
JAIME: Why not?
ASHLEY: All right, well, I wish them well in their venture and I hope that it works out.
JAIME: For everyone.
ASHLEY: Exactly. All right, well, if you’re enjoying Outgrowth, please leave us a review on Apple podcasts with one click. You can visit bit.ly/outgrowthpodcast.
JAIME: As always, you can follow us and comment on recent episodes on Instagram at @outgrowthpodcast.
ASHLEY: All right, until next week, be smart.
JAIME: Be safe.