How a passion for inclusivity is putting Mamawest on the map
When it comes to ensuring clients from the gender diverse community feel safe, heard, understood and accepted, few salon owners are working harder and with more passion for the cause than Mamawest Creative Director Sheridan Rose Shaw (she/her).
“I believe everyone needs at least one safe space where they feel seen, heard, valued and beautiful,” Sheridan says, noting that hair professionals have the ability to help gender diverse clients express their identities. “We have the tools and the skills to be able to express what they’re feeling on the inside through colour and creative cutting.”
“I believe everyone needs at least one safe space where they feel seen, heard, valued and beautiful”
In the 14 months since the Maidstone salon opened, the team at Mamawest has worked hard to provide an inclusive and safe space, with innovations including silent appointments (which can be set up as an option in Timely) and pricing based not on gender, but on the time and skill involved with an appointment, as well as the products used.
Another feature that Sheridan has already found useful is Timely’s new pronouns selector. “I believe it’s a really great way to start the conversation, worldwide in our industry,” Sheridan says. She also really values the ability to learn important details such as pronouns and other things that can help tailor a client’s experience, ahead of an appointment – or as Sheridan puts it, “being able to connect and communicate with our clients before they’re in our chair.”
Another feature that Sheridan has already found useful is Timely’s new pronouns selector. “I believe it’s a really great way to start the conversation, worldwide in our industry,” Sheridan says.
So, what advice would Sheridan have for salon owners who are interested in learning about diversity and inclusion? “My number one tip is, go straight to your clients,” Sheridan says. “I’m always asking them how they feel and how I can optimise the client experience so that they feel seen, so that they feel heard and they feel acknowledged.” Sheridan also believes by showing your team that you want to be more inclusive, you can create an atmosphere where change can happen. “Your team will feel thrilled to see you asking the right questions.”
Sheridan recently used LGBTQIA+, Transgender and Non Binary models for a photo series, Hair Has No Gender. The series was sponsored by Timely and went on to be a finalist in the Australian Hair Industry Awards, something Sheridan says is her proudest moment. “All the models we used in the photoshoot were from the LGBTQIA+ community,” Sheridan says. “So to see that our industry is also recognising the work we’re doing in the salon, while also trying to make a change in our industry, is my mission complete.”
“Our community has absolutely celebrated the diverse changes that we’ve made”
Since Sheridan and the team at Mamawest placed increased focus on inclusivity, they’ve seen a great response from clients. “Our community has absolutely celebrated the diverse changes that we’ve made,” Sheridan says. “And I believe it’s actually put us on the map, and we’re being recognised for the changes we’re making in our industry and our community.” These changes have been well received by her team – and, Sheridan believes, have contributed to the business’s ability to attract staff, even during a time when hairdressers are in high demand. “We have a massive shortage of hairdressers in Australia,” Sheridan says, “But we’ve been open for over a year and we’ve never had any difficulties finding team members – in fact, we’ve had to decline offers because we’re at capacity! And I truly, one hundred percent believe that it’s because of the changes that we’re making.”