I am exhausted. I’ve just had lunch with a whirlwind. A calm whirlwind if that makes sense.
Deborah Coburn is a Tour De Force in the hairdressing and ‘women in business’ world here in Queenstown. I know because she’s just reeled off her repertoire. Business owner, book writer, course facilitator, community minded, celebrator of all things about life. And I for one am inspired. Where to begin?
Collective Hair and makeup design is 20 years young (well 21 but we wanted to keep the celebrations going and I for one am all about cake and celebrations). 1994 when I was a wee girl with bad hair Deborah was setting up her salon and collaborating with a collection of yogis, people performing Tai Chi and seeing big things in her future. Rewind a few years and we see her moving to Dunedin. But all this in a minute.
Being an original Queenstowner (rare in these parts) Deborah’s love of fashion and all things beautiful took her to Dunedin, Australia, the UK and finally settling back here to set up Collective. As the business grew so did the rent and her workload also increased. Working hard is something this lady is not afraid of and her team know this well and follow suit. We look into 2015 and see hair, makeup, fashion shows, work for charities, personal development for teenagers, empowerment courses for women and more. I had to sit down after this meeting.
I’m sure she’s seen a few perms she’d like to forget over the years but one thing she hasn’t forgotten is her sense of community and reaching out to those people here who would benefit from that connection. The provision of work around women and teenagers and her ethos of personal development Deborah provides a series of salon based learning courses looking at how we see ourselves, the world we live in and the importance of stopping for a while to view all this alongside others. Feeding the soul if you will, away from the craziness of life as we know it here in Queenstown and Central.
Enter the salon and you get a sense of welcome. People say hello, they remember your name and this is probably why their client list is lengthy and established. Clients want to come back to return to the warm inviting atmosphere, be pampered for a while and sent off washed, snipped, and feeling good.
I ask about the style of Queenstown and Deborah remarks it’s international. A melting pot of fashion and so many different styles. I guess that’s why I love it so much. A little cultural heaven in the middle of the mountains.
Deborah’s staff also know the importance of work. No drama queens who know that there is opportunity everywhere. Old staff are still in contact, which gives you the understanding of how important family culture is here at Collective. There are key people in the team who delegate work, understanding the teams’s strengths and things to work on. If only more places worked like this. I might have to scare Deborah into training me up. I couldn’t cut a straight line to save my life though. Little problem.
How does she relax I ask. So many fingers in so many pies. “I’m better at saying no now” laughs Deborah. Walking her dogs, heading over to Hawaii for some sunshine, delegation is key. Trusting staff to know what they’re doing. And they do know. They really do.
So instead I settle back into the world of Collective and listen as Deborah reals off tales of film production work, books she’s written and people she’s met along the way. And I like her. I like the team. And you know what? That perm doesn’t sound so bad now either.