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One Team, Five Generations

By: Tracey Hughes • 4 years ago •

I began my career in 1986 as an apprentice hairdresser in the UK at 16 years old. I initially had visions of becoming a barrister after the completion of my school studies and was planning on going to university to study Law. However, I had a change of heart, so I listened to my instincts leading me down the creative career path of hairdressing.

Tracey Hughes Intro


ike many of those who end up in Australia, I originally arrived as a backpacker. I fell in love with Australia, the sunshine, the lifestyle and the passion I discovered within the hairdressing industry, and decided to make my home here. I established Mieka Hairdressing salon in Melbourne in 1997 and I could never have anticipated how successful my new enterprise was going to be, especially since I grew the salon and brand to win Australian ‘Salon of the Year’ 10 times.

I began educating other stylists early on in my career and this is how I eventually became a coach. I’ve conducted education events in all parts of the globe, including Australia, China, Dubai, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, UK, and the USA. Now as an accomplished speaker, I’ve presented to over half a million salon professionals worldwide. My husband and I have now relocated to LA and my time is spent split between the USA and Australia.

Tracey Hughes 3My company assists hairstylists and organisations in the beauty industry globally in transforming themselves into confident, knowledgeable, vibrant and profitable businesses through the coaching we provide. To be part of someone else’s journey truly is a privilege, however to become part of their personal growth creates a magical emotional bond too. I have worked closely with hundreds of other educators developing them into confident speakers and coaches. This has resulted in a ripple effect of greater education being provided throughout the hair, beauty and cosmetics industries.

My philosophy stems from providing high quality skills training, business coaching and personal development to others for them to become the best they can be. We provide many facets of education, including technical workshops, business sessions and leadership programs. We also provide outstanding training resources specifically to suit our target market.


My approach is very personal and the standard of our tuition usually excels beyond most attendees expectations. The difference between coaching men and women depends upon the individual more than their gender. When coaching larger groups the dynamics in the room does vary depending upon the balance of both genders attending. If a session has a greater percentage of one gender then my approach may change in this environment. I will generally create good interactive activities to get the genders, generational differences and experience levels working together as a team.

Tracey Hughes 1Gender can certainly make a difference within the industry as around 75-80% of the industry is made up of women. Certainly, the majority of stylists within salons are female. However, in the corporate sector of the industry, it is actually often more male dominated and interestingly, men hold a larger percentage of the top positions overall. Unfortunately, for the hairdressers, this is often due to women needing to step back while they have families. The support companies and corporates are quite male-dominated, while the education sectors are female-dominated. I see more females in marketing, but males in sales as well as the higher up roles. I think this will change over time however and there will be more equality in the corporate sector.


Tracey Hughes 2In the hairdressing industry, we see a lot of generational differences that affect team dynamics. While the gender split is overwhelmingly in favour of women, the actual dynamics between males and females doesn’t make much difference. However, teams are often made up of a spread of Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xs, Gen Ys, and even Gen Zs doing their accreditation. That’s 5 separate generations in the workforce. I notice that a lot of the leaders are coming from the Gen Ys, so a lot of the salon managers are Gen Ys who are very tech-savvy but don’t always have the communication skills that a Gen X or Baby Boomer would. One thing I’ve been trying to do, is bridge the gap of the generations and see what they can learn from each other. Getting those dynamics to shift, I tend to ignore gender and focus on level of experience and type of audience.

I don’t tend to coach individuals so much as do whole salon/business training with the entire staff, working on their team culture. Often we run business seminars, teaching business and leadership education to the salon owners, educating them on what it takes to run a small-medium sized business. We discuss team culture, team dynamics and internal education systems so they can get consistency across all team members. For individual stylists, we work on their knowledge and creativity, but for the business owners, it’s more about getting them to see the business perspective, rather than their instinctive, creative, hairdresser one. Rather than relying on traditional forms of training, they’re starting to lead by example and take control. They experience personal development and an increase in confidence in their abilities to successful run their businesses.

One of my clients has 5 salons in Gladstone – a regional area with a transient industrial population. When I first started coaching her, she didn’t even have a computer program to track appointments – it was all done manually. She came through the mentorship program and now sends all her staff to all our programs. She has software programs for appointments, has trained all her managers in leadership skills, trained her managers and educators on presentation skills so they can effectively teach, so she’s not relying on external education companies to provide training. The resulting success has meant she has not had to close 2 of those 5 salons. The key element that she took away was accountability. At the end of the day, she is a hairdresser but she’s also a business owner, and she had to take accountability for her own business, rather than relying on others. Knowing that there are tools and resources available for her to build her business – I’ve just opened her mind to these. She’s grown personally as well as stepping up in the business side.

The hair and beauty industry has the same gender challenges as most industries. Naturally many women juggle a family and a career exceptionally well, as do many men. Ultimately if an individual is happy within their chosen profession and they have a desire to succeed, it is their skill and determination that will be the driving factor that makes the difference.



Have genuine passion for your industry. A good coach needs to be selfless and have a genuine desire to want to give to others.


There’s no substitute for expertise. A strong skill set in your specialist field or area that you teach in is crucial.


Be engaging: A great coach also knows how to engage their students or audience or individuals to give them the best learning experience.


Be all about the individual, not the stereotype: When you make your student the hero and bring out the best in them, gender equality plays no part as it’s about reaching and elevating that single individual. Simply through being present for them and sharing your expertise, they will flourish from the coach’s guidance.


Get stuck into PD: Coach education is an ongoing journey of self-discovery, so my philosophy is based upon continuous education and personal development. Being committed to wanting to become your best and achieve your career goals takes drive and determination.


Be innovative! Innovation stems from having a vision for developing new material, however, keeping a grasp on what your clients’ needs are, is the key to staying ahead. Therefore, let go of any desire for recognition and invest into your own development through consistent learning, as then you will have more to give to others.


Stay open-minded: Lastly keep an open mind at all times and learn from your students and clients in return. I believe this allows your mind and creativity to flourish from many resources.

Tracey Hughes

An experienced global speaker, 4 x Educator of the Year and 4 x Excellence in Education recipient, Tracey Hughes is a visionary. An icon in the hairdressing industry Tracey is now a celebrity authority and the most recognised and awarded educator in the history of the hair and beauty industry globally. She conducts education events all over the world around her core strategies of small business, leadership and team culture.

From humble beginnings in England, Tracey has endured many challenges and has never lost faith in her dreams. Overcoming these obstacles, including living a fruitful life with epilepsy, she drives positive goals to remain healthy and highly self-motivated.

For more information visit Tracey Hughes Education

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