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Building Culture IN an Unusual Setting

Photo by Guilherme Petri

This article was based on episode 059 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher.

I, like many professional women, get my hair cut every few months. Not once have I thought about the culture or teamwork of the salon staff. It never occurred to me that the owners of a salon would invest in developing a collaborative, learning-oriented culture.

Until I met Lorean Cairns, Co-Founder of Fox and Jane Salons, Skin Habit, and Little Lion Salon.

Lorean and I spoke about how she went against the norm by building and scaling a collaborative culture in the salon industry, one typically known for its competitive nature. Her initiatives employee over 150+ team members globally. In her role, Lorean leads the charge in coaching and mentoring leaders, executives, and managers of all levels.

Lorean shared her story and insights that can apply to any team setting.


In a salon environment, team members seem more like individuals working alongside one another, rather than collaborating together. But Lorean saw an opportunity to reframe responsibility and success as a communal effort.

We rise and fall together.

Unlike a typical salon, where stylists are often discouraged from speaking to any client not sitting in their chair, stylists working at Fox and Jane are part of a collective. Everyone wins when the client has an amazing experience, which consists of more than a great haircut. Stylists are responsible for clients sitting in chairs to their right and left, even if they never touch that person’s hair.

Feedback for one of us is for all of us.

Yelp and online reviews in general have provided incredibly useful feedback which Fox & Jane salons has put to good use. If a stylist receives a bad review, the whole team gathers together to figure out what went wrong and what they can do to prevent it from happening again.

Notably, a poor customer review is not taken at face value. The team digests the input, but also takes into consideration what the stylist recalls of that customer experience. This way, everyone has the opportunity to learn, contribute ideas, and help implement solutions.

Celebrate wins big and small.

Those reviews also provide opportunities to celebrate. A positive review is credited to the stylist and the entire team. When someone has a big day on the floor or reaches a new milestone, the person is recognized and everyone shares is the celebration.


As in most new businesses, when the team is small and co-located, it’s easy to set the tone. But as the team grows and new locations open, the culture must be regularly reinforced.

It starts with hiring.

Fox and Jane specifically sets the expectation during the hiring process that collaboration and a team spirit are essential. This allows the candidate to determine if this culture is the right fit for them as well.

Later on, it becomes a touchpoint which can be referenced when needed. “Remember when we talked about collaboration as part of the job here?” It opens the door to redirect an unhelpful behavior.

We all forget sometimes.

All team members are encouraged to provide in the moment coaching. This can be as simple as head nod or slight nudge, intending to help the other person recognize their own behavior.

In the salon, it may be a conversation that has turned to an “off limits” topic like politics or religion. The stylist just needs a gentle reminder to steer the conversation in a different direction.

This approach is particularly useful because it’s not negative or harsh. You’re simply drawing someone’s attention and asking them to reflect: “What am I doing that maybe I shouldn’t be?”

Use structured monthly meetings.

Over time, Lorean’s team has developed a meeting rhythm that helps them stay aligned, build relationships, problem solve and develop leadership skills. Their monthly meeting calendar includes:

  1. Week 1: Time to review processes, develop culture, build technical skills, and other operational needs.

  2. Week 2: Time to go through sales data, goals, projects, wins, and challenges.

  3. Week 3: Time fully focused on professional development, tackling challenges, coaching, team morale and inspiration.

  4. Week 4: Time to review inventory, ensure tracking is accurate, etc.

While this exact rhythm wont work for every team, it’s a useful framework to consider what topics a team should address each month.


While a salon is a very particular setting, the lessons shared by Lorean can be applied to almost any team.

For example:

  • Feedback for one is for all may be useful for a team with overlapping responsibilities. When something goes wrong, gather everyone to learn and develop solutions together.

  • Consider what elements of your culture are most essential and incorporate them into your hiring process to create a touchstone for future reference.

  • In the moment coaching can be used in an office setting during a meeting. , When one person is speaking a bit too long, a subtle head nod may be just the thing to help remind them to make space for other voices.

  • Explore what four topics or themes your team should address each month and establish a regular meeting rhythm.

Join the Modern Manager community and get 15% off Lorean's book CultureFox: How to cultivate a lasting culture plus additional guest offers and materials to support your journey to rockstar manager.

This article was based on episode 059 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.


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