Team Spirit: Unite
UNITED THEY STAND: CEO and Founder Andrew Dale (center) onstage at UNITE Global Session with some of the UNITE Brand Ambassadors. From Sweden, Unite artists Fredrik Karlsoon and Matthias Lavesson (left) and Paul Stafford from Belfast, Ireland (right).
Its philosophy is contained in the name of the company. Unite Professional Salon System, created 12 years ago by award-winning hairdresser and entrepreneur, Andrew Dale, was formed to bring hairdressers together to celebrate their mutual passion for hair and beauty and to provide them with the tools they needed to thrive.
“I wanted to unite hairdressers to make the industry a better place,” says Dale, a former Sassoon educator and successful salon owner. “I’m not interested in feeding someone’s ego but about uplifting the profession and educating stylists to be better artists, business people and collaborators.”
Without any venture capital behind it, Unite has grown rapidly and is distributed both direct to the professional and via distributors. They are reaching the hairdressers in several ways: through classes at their Unite Academy in San Diego, CA; via a team of educators who go in-salon and to distributorships to train, including senior staff who do larger, regional trainings; and with the help of a select group of global artists who share a love for the brand and its message—Unite Senior Educators—who excite and educate stylists in cities around the world with Unite On Tour and take Unite backstage at photo shoots, Fashion Weeks and runway events, too.
Recently, Dale brought in Global Education Director, Marcus Allen, to mentor and grow this team of instructors and artists and to enhance education efforts. Once the manager of the Urban Retreat in Harrod’s Department Store in London, one of the largest salons in the world, Allen selects potential educators with a “sink or swim” method based on the Navy Seals and their rigorous processes.
First, stylists submit a video in which they spend one minute talking about why they want to be an educator and another five minutes about something they are passionate about that has nothing to do with hair. “And they have to do this in front of an audience of five people,” says Allen. “We want to see how they convey their message and that they could get five people to listen to it.”
If they pass this step, a Facetime conference call takes place and they are given feedback on their submission. They also have to pass a blow dry class and photograph ten different styles and submit them for review. If they have made it this far, they receive an invitation to a regional training. “When they come in, we already know they have what it takes and now we are just tweaking them,” says Allen. “They are also flying in on their own dime which shows their commitment and also weeds out more people.” They start as a First Level Educator and, if they are tough enough, move on to the Second Level.
At the Unite headquarters, both Dale and Allen teach Paramount Business classes, offerings that have been so popular eight more classes are being added to the schedule.
“Our industry is reactionary not proactive,” Allen says. “Every corporation in the world really plans, they work to calendars and schedules, but not most salons. In these classes, we bring in leaders from different kinds of businesses and brands to remind owners that they don’t own a salon, they own a brand. And when they leave, we don’t say go back and change everything you’re doing but we do encourage them to at least make a plan.“
Current initiatives including building a buzz around barbering, holding classes in traditional barbering and in men’s grooming. When asked about his vision for the future, Dale says, “We are always asking ourselves, what can we do to make the hairdresser’s life better? We answer that with better products, better education and always going from good to great.”