Every day we hear the stories of overnight business “success” and companies raising millions in capital or influencers posing poolside with the perfect tan, makeup-free look and that long glossy hair all while boasting the next wonder product.
But today we are sitting down with Stephanie Mason, the Gold Coast businesswoman who has built a thriving multi-million dollar company on a platform of providing a second to none product, service, consistent hard work and a focus on sales not simply raising capital.
Showpony is now celebrating ten years in the business of providing what we hear are the best hair extensions on the market. With influencers and the best Salons across the country stocking their products, Partnering with The Voice Australian and Miss Universe Australia and with notable names like Sam Frost, Cartia Mallan, Steph Pacca and Sophie Monk all seen wearing Showpony Professional products regularly. So we decided to sit down with Stephanie and talk with her about the journey so far and What’s next for Showpony.
Congratulations on the business celebrating its 10th anniversary back in September what does achieving such an impressive milestone mean to you?
Thanks so much! It’s been a wild, wild ride building the business up over the years. It literally started with me going door to door to salons in Melbourne 10 years ago, to now being known as Australia’s most recognized hair extensions brand.
I’d say, I’m thrilled, excited, and can not wait for what the future holds for Showpony. There have definitely been lots of emotions celebrating this 10-year milestone.
You’ve built Showpony to be a significant player in the market, on two foundations the delivery of a great product and hard work. How essential would you say these have been to the continued success of the brand?
Firstly, can I say, that I would never sell anything that I hadn’t tried and tested myself! We are extremely passionate about our mission to make women feel beautiful every day.
I knew when I started Showpony Professional that the product had to transform looks as well as lives. Not everyone has the hair that they want. Quality is paramount to the success of our brand’s reputation. My team and I have worked extremely hard over the years perfecting our product range, to ensure a premium and completely natural looking product for our customers and we are constantly focused on innovation.
Taking your business from a solo operation selling salon to salon to having a great team here on the coast and continuing to produce the same level of service on a large scale is something you seem to have transitioned into well, What are some of the hurdles you faced…? And any advice for businesses looking to scale?
As with any business, there are always a lot of testing moments. Business is hard! But is extremely rewarding. I remember some testing moments early on when I was preparing to launch Showpony by myself from the lounge room of my Melbourne Apartment! The 2009 global financial crisis hit soon after we launched. I witnessed a lot of salons close during this time, and my drive became “how to help these salons”. We decided to focus on salon service and how we can improve our offering so that clients and salons could both benefit from our offering. There were many times that I felt completely out of my depth with what I’d taken on and as you scale the problems become bigger.
MY TOP TIPS ARE:
Collaborate, Outsource where you can so you can work smarter not harder
Network and use your connections to grow and learn, Be a problem solver– business is primarily about this!
You have to keep focused on moving forward. Don’t let the negatives or hurdles win!
Showpony’s first big break came in 2010 when we exhibited at Melbourne’s Hair Expo. It catapulted our brand into the mainstream, with widespread interest from salons and prominent hairstylists, all keen to offer our signature range of clip-ins, and by then innovative slimline tape hair extensions, to their clientele. The business exploded overnight!
Regarding advice for other entrepreneurs, I’d have to say…find a few business mentors early on if you can and learn as much you can. There are lots of entrepreneur networks that you can collaborate and grow with. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
I’ve been extremely lucky to have some amazing mentors throughout my business journey from family members, hairstylists and other business owners, which I am forever thankful for their advice and support.
Your original inspiration for the business came from your career as a professional model, what motivated you to move into the industry and what was missing from the current products on the market…?
Working as a model, I became acutely aware of the lack of quality hair extension products available within the hair and beauty industry. All that was available then were a few synthetic clip-ins and lower grade human hair products, most of which were made from cheap materials and minimal highlighted Colour’s which were challenging to blend naturally. The hair stylists on my modelling shoots were crying out for something better….and that’s how the idea for Showpony was born.
Showpony has an impressive list of devotee celebrity clients and amazing salons across the nation, and you’ve also recently partnered with the Voice Australia and Miss Universe Australia how important are these kind of relationships to your business…?
These partnerships are a fantastic platform for us to show women how many ways you can use the product. We love producing showstopping hairstyles and working with top stylist’s backstage for TV Shows such as The Voice, as well as the glamorous world of MISS UNIVERSE Australia.
And while we love working with our celebrity guests on projects, we also absolutely adore ALL of our Showpony clients.
Showpony was built on the philosophy that your hair is your crown, but sometimes we simply don’t have the hair we’ve always dreamed of… that’s where our products can really work some magic! Our product range can be used to fill in gaps, add highlights, create a fringe, extend a ponytail, indulge in a non-committal colour change, fix a bad haircut, or inject an up-style with volume.
What makes Showpony stand out from the crowd, we know the quality is, of course, a significant factor but what is something you and your team do well that sets you apart from other companies in the area?
We believe we offer our salon clients an unparalleled level of support, service and education. My team and I work extensively, visiting salons, talking to stylists, running education sessions and ‘look and learn’ workshops, to ensure every Showpony salon can deliver flawless hair extensions application and styling services for every client.
Speaking of quality when people are looking for new hair extensions what are some of the crucial things they need to look for, before making an appointment or purchase?
Do your research! If you’re new to hair extensions book in for a discovery session with your hairstylist to find out more about the methods they use in the salon. Ensure the method they are using is suitable for your hair type. If you don’t know, check out our website. Ask all the questions to ensure you’re well informed about product quality, initial costs, home maintenance and follow up appointments.
Most important… hair extensions shouldn’t cause any damage to your natural hair, maintenance with regular salons visits being the key here. Quality hair extensions applied by an experienced stylist should be completely undetectable and actually help to protect your natural hair.
Moving into your next decade of business what is on the horizon for Showpony… What’s Next?
There is lots on the agenda for 2019 and beyond at Showpony!
The demand for quality hair extensions and in-salon application expertise has never been greater. This is why we’ve just announced a new alignment with OZDARE in Australia to support our business expansion strategy. This new alignment will mean we will have even more Showpony representatives focused on delivering exceptional education programs, product innovation, as well as a whole new level of in-salon support.
Our new photographic collection of Showpony images entitled, ‘I AM’ has also just launched this month (pictured in this article) and can be seen on our social media channels. The six key looks bring to life an inspiring collaboration of talent including Photographer Andrew O’Toole, as well as Hair Director Joey Scandizzo. I wanted the collection of images to reflect the alter-egos we possess as women and how individuality can inspire a different look every day. The collection was shot using one model to demonstrate the versatility of the Showpony product, bringing to life each persona from the beautifully feminine ‘Classic’ ponytail, to the effortlessly undone ‘Wild at Heart’ look. There are a lot more exciting things to come on in 2019!
Exciting times ahead and watch this space!
A Special Thank You to
Hair – Joey Scandizzo with Hermiz Daniel Assisting
Photography Andrew O’Toole
Makeup Kylie O’Toole
Stylist Melissa Nixon
Model Tiahnee Skrijel