Testimony: Sabrina, manager of the Alma trade show

This is Sabrina, manager of the Alma salon...

Introduce yourself and the Alma concept

My name is Sabrina, I'm the founder of the Alma concept. Alma is a beauty universe dedicated to women, who are experiencing the partial or total loss of their hair, through an innovation, therefore natural hair wigs, which are cut and colored according to each woman, tailor-made with a strong accompaniment to help them go through this ordeal smoothly and help them to reconnect or tie with their beauty. And to make them feel good and beautiful during the illness and afterwards.

What did you do before Alma?

I've done a lot of things, but Alma was born from a personal story.

At the age of 13, I lost my hair, following an alopecia, an autoimmune disease. This autoimmune disease causes hair loss, it doesn't have too many other consequences in life. But I lost all of my hair from then on.

So I've been wearing wigs for 26 years. As a customer who bought wigs, I could never find my happiness. I didn't feel heard in what I was, I could never find a suitable model, it was extremely expensive and then it didn't follow the fashion, the trend and that's something I like very much. I think that every woman wants to look like everyone else and be unique.

I used to work in the health sector, but in a totally different sector, recruitment. I was lobbying the Department of Health and I represented federations of physicians. That's how I discovered the health sector. I was a journalist too, I did several things, events.  

I think I was looking for meaning. A lot of women who were losing their hair around me, or friends of friends, family, came to me, I would say to get back their spirits, to have contacts as well. Because in fact, when you go to buy a wig, you're lost, because you don't know this beauty accessory at all, you don't know where to buy it, you don't know how much it costs.

One thing leading to another, I realized that I was bringing them something, I hope well in any case, they were feeling better with me and I said to myself that there was something to do, something to bring and that was it! I quit my job, I went on a trip around the world.

I am not a hairdresser at all by profession, I had the expertise of the wig and I know how to recognize a beautiful hair, but I obviously needed to find the essential, the hair and the manufacture that could make me wigs. I made this journey for a few months and launched Alma in 2016.

Was it hard to find people to work with the same values and professional skills as you?

I have a friend who often tells me, you don't meet Sabrina by chance, and I want to say, my collaborators didn't come here by chance. I discovered the world of hairdressing through Alma, really, because of course, it required know-how, because it is cut and coloured to measure and I needed professional colourists, hairdressers and make-up artists. We offer make-up courses, to really give women the keys, especially when they lose their eyelashes and eyebrows for example.

In fact, the women who responded to these job offers were either women who were affected by the disease indirectly, that is, a family member who was affected, or people who were directly confronted with the disease, or hairdressers who were looking for meaning, like me.

I would say Alma's philosophy, what I'm trying to share and what I'm trying to give to the women who come to see us, naturally, they got it, because that's what they came for. So it was easy to collaborate with all these women, because there are only women. There are only women on the team at the moment. The energy came naturally, and benevolence above all! The listening was always there for any of them and I thank them very much.

On the other hand, it is difficult to find hairdressers, obviously experienced, who are not afraid to take the plunge, because the approach to colouring is different on a wig, it is a hair that is sebum free, that is dead, it reacts totally differently than a hair on a person. It also requires a questioning, the ability to learn something new.

So they are also courageous women, who dared to take the plunge, even if it was their job in the end, into something completely new. And they succeeded.

As a trade fair manager, what tasks do you enjoy the most? And the ones you don't like?

Ah, accounting, I don't like it! But this... It's a good thing my accountant is here. I would say that when you become an entrepreneur and you make that choice for the right reasons, especially not financial reasons, when you make a choice, I would say that when you are passionate, it is almost a choice of love. Everything is fine on principle. You're learning a lot, that's great! To pass on knowledge, to share it. My employees through hairdressing, they taught me a lot.

I can talk about colorimetry, today, almost like a hairdresser, even if it's not that yet! I think in principle, I'm interested in everything. Afterwards, obviously, there are things that aren't so nice. Accounting is one of them, cleaning the living room is not my thing.

It can be things like that, I had never worked in a commercial context, well, as a student, yes, but to receive people from the public is quite nice, because we are at home, we receive people, here everyone serves a coffee, everyone is on first-name terms, everyone is on first-name terms. We have obviously kept a very professional side.

But it's also very friendly, you're having a good time. Whatever you do, even if it's not necessarily cool in principle, it's fine!

What services do you offer? What is your price range?

So, as far as wigs are concerned, which is a little bit the center of the activity at the beginning, we propose wigs which are between 490€ and 1 290€. It looks very expensive, for people who don't know the world of wigs, but it's really much cheaper than what exists on the market. It's about the price of a synthetic fiber.  

Then in terms of services, it's a dedicated beauty universe. There's a wide range. The idea is to accompany the woman, a little bit about everything. There is image consulting through workshops or individual appointments.

We offer makeovers, around 149€. Makeovers, all that is face, all that is related to the cut and the colouring... With a real analysis, a real diagnosis, which takes into account the personality of the woman and which takes into account her colorimetry.

We propose a whole range of hairdressing salon, which is rather accessible, the brushings are about 29€, and it can go up to 139€/149€ on colorings on long hair, strands, shaded hair.

There are make-up classes and there are a lot of products on sale, with organic cosmetics. We want to! For women who are living with cancer and come to us, it's really become a new language for her, a new way of consciously buying good products that are not treated on animals, for example.

I wanted to make sure that, in principle, it was accessible to any woman, whatever her income, and that it always remained a matter of measured fares.

How do you manage your communication?

So that's the big question! That's obviously one of the big issues. We're present on social networks, primarily Instagram and Facebook, but also on Youtube and Pinterest. It's obviously very important to showcase our work. It's also important for wigs to show how natural it is. Today, I'm wearing a wig, I think that if I hadn't said it, we wouldn't necessarily have noticed it, I hope because otherwise... It's a long shot.

But we try to reassure a woman, I would say, through social networks, by showing lots of images of women, that our clients are our muses, they are the ones who pose everywhere, and without working on the image, the image of the hair in any case. So it's very important for us to communicate through that. We also have a website, of course, where we explain a little bit about everything we do.  

Afterwards, we try to develop a communication that will be much more important. For example, we haven't bought any keywords yet, it's in progress. We have never done sponsored campaigns.

But clearly, we're on a digital path, of course. And besides that, as we are approved by the social security, we are making health professionals, hospitals, who make prescriptions for hair prostheses, aware of the fact that this is the name given to wigs in the medical field. We make them aware of our approach and what we offer to women who are experiencing hair loss. I forgot to say it, but it is only for women.

For or against online booking?

Then I'm all for it in principle. Obviously, that's one of the reasons I chose Wavy. But I would say that for us, it's a special case. We're not really a hairdressing salon, we're a private showroom, which offers wigs with a whole range of beauty services around them. And women have questions.

It is very important to be in the dialogue and in the response, to answer women's first questions before they even come. For example, there is online booking, but I would say that this is for our clients, who are already with us, who know us and who are more likely to make an appointment on the internet for ease, to save time.

But we've had women come in almost blind, to buy a wig, by making an appointment online, so to.

Why Wavy?

Why Wavy? A lot of things. First of all, because it's a start up, and we're a startup, too. I think a startup is a startup that can adapt. I understood that at Wavy, there was a lot of energy, dynamism, a willingness to understand the customers, and to adjust to customer requests and feedback.

So, that's appreciable and it's essential, because one day it's black, one day it's white, so you have to adapt, and then an essential reason for us is the possibility in the customer file to put photos. This is clearly central, since we want to preserve the identity of every woman who comes to see us. So we have a before/after that is extremely important, to see if we have respected everything. This is something very important for all hairdressers even today, to know your client well...  

Afterwards, I'd say for ease of use. Honestly, I've never used cash register software, except when I was a student and had a small job. I wanted something super simple, that could be used on a tablet, since we in each business unit, I would say in the colouring workshop, in the hair salon and in the first appointment, what they call us the "cocoon" room at the moment, everyone has an iPad and we communicate and share all the data. I think it's very interesting and important to be able to do it on a tablet.

An anecdote?

Perhaps I will speak to you at that time, about anecdotes, or what is often repeated, and that is the moment of satisfaction, because in fact, when we produce work, when we try to provide services to people and, in addition, we are addressing an audience that is suffering, the most appreciable moment, when we are with these women....

It happens in two appointments, they put on their wig that has been coloured, we give them their haircut, we give them a make-up lesson and then we offer them to discover themselves through a mirror.and they tell me "Oh, I feel beautiful! Oh, I find myself! Ah, it's really me!" and it's really something that brings together all the women who come to see us.

It's a moment of pleasure, we realize that they have just shaved their hair for the most part, they have just lost it and they feel beautiful, they feel good, they feel themselves. For me, we've done something pretty good and I'm happy.

Ecrit par
Aurélie Pauker
Toujours attirée par le monde de la coiffure et de la beauté, je réponds aujourd'hui aux problématiques que vous pouvez avoir.‍

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