Home' INSTYLE Magazine : INSTYLE MAY-JUN 2017 Contents P
aloma is 32 years old, yet sitting across from her
strong, grounded nature, she feels much wiser than
that. Raised in the industry’s glory days, she’s one
of those tireless workers granted the gift of genuine
passion, the kind of instinct that bubbles at the
surface of your earliest years.
“My mum was a single mum and her hair was always important
to her, even if she was watching money or busy raising children.
From the age of 8 I would go with her to the salon and sweep up
hair, fold foils and just generally help out,” Paloma reminisces.
By the time high-school rolled around, Paloma – bestowed
with a drive for fi nancial independence – began work as the
“I loved it and I never wanted to rely on my mum and dad for
money. By the time I was 15 I started at Synergy, Sydney, with
Sharon Maar doing Saturdays and late nights and as soon as
year 10 drew to a close, I really wanted to leave school and start
hairdressing full time.”
Alas, mum, dad and a conservative private school said ‘no.’
The group did, however, come to a compromise and Paloma was
able to leave school at 12pm on a Thursday to work. The afternoon
of finishing her HSC (with flying colours), Paloma started full-
time at Synergy where, no surprises, she was signed off on her
apprenticeship a year in advance.
“I worked so hard, and assisting Kenneth Stoddart – he taught
me so much about foundation work. I remember there was an 8
month period where I didn’t have one day off and I would always
bring in extra models. Sharon was such an amazing woman to
work for, she still inspires me today,” Paloma says.
It’s a rare thing, these days, for youth to exert such
determination, persistence and over whelming willingness to
put in the hours; apply themselves. The mindset it feels, is not
so much ‘what can I do to help, how can I earn a place here?’ As
it is ‘why should I work here, how can you help me?’ There are
exceptions of course, as with everything in life. However perhaps
this millennial trend is why many are sitting on the sidelines of
the lust after session world as opposed to assisting in the thrust of
it – like Paloma was at age 15.
“I did my first fashion show when I was 15. It was the Tigerlily
show and it featured Kristy Hinze with a live python. I was very
lucky to work with the greats, Belinda Jeffereys, Kenneth and
Julianne McGuigan, there was this whole early Nineties thing
Oscar Cullinan of Oscar Oscar salons bought Synergy in 2004
and unbeknown to Paloma, her life was about to change.
“It was an interesting transition. Sharon was a very loose,
free-spirited woman and then to a man who really commands a
room. The common thread however, was
passion,” says Paloma.
12 months later, the salon moved from
its Darlinghurst home to a fresh outlook
on Oxford Street Paddington where
Oscar Oscar remains today. Following 6
years in the salon, Oscar offered Paloma
the salon partnership and without any
business training, she said ‘yes.’
“I don’t think you ever know when
you’re ready to enter into business, it’s
like, how do you know when you’re
ready to have a child? It just felt right
and I have always had leadership
characteristics. Importantly, I
With a two year old at home and
determined to lead by demonstration,
Paloma found herself working all day,
every day for the first two years –
creating a culture and set of standards
she remains proud of to this day. And of
course, learning how to be a great businesswoman as she went.
“Thankfully, I had a lot of guidance and education from Oscar
and the brand. I remember our first, quarterly catch up meeting,
I’d been in the business for around 9 months and someone was
talking about dollar average. I was like, ‘what’s a dollar average?!’”
Systems and numbers – things that can be learned – work ethic,
creativity and people management, not so much. Luckily for
Paloma she possesses all of these things and has today, well and
truly conquered the art of business with a busy salon, low staff
turn-over and high influencer following.
“The biggest challenge the industry faces is people. It’s really
challenging, but challenge equals opportunity, you get through
it. We had a few people niggling at each other just last week so we
went and got a coffee and hashed it all out. It changes everything,”
“The key to keeping staff, for me, is hearing them out. I read
something cool the other day which I Iove, ‘listening is as
important as talking.’ Listen to your people.”
A practice no doubt driving a following of Australia’s most
prominent influencers living and loving the Paloma slash Oscar
Oscar Paddington experience. Paloma relishes the influence
of social media, and while she claims not to be perfect at it, is
inspired by the direct impact her influencer network has on the
salon’s bottom line – Nadia Fairfax, Michelle Bridges, Margaret
Zhang to name a few.
Paloma Rose Garcia is wildly talented and well networked. She is successful,
strong and business savvy - a career built less on privilege more on
perseverance. Lauren King chats with the award winning stylist on life and
learning to let things go.
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