How to survive a recession?

Why the new paradigm is about your brand and nobody else’s

Dealing with the new normal – We have danced to this song before.

In 2008 the globe went through a financial crisis, it was lovingly named the credit crunch. This word was an attempt to soften the incoming devastation of an entire industry. There was nothing loving about it. Things were about to change in my part of the industry forever. Have you noticed that the tag new normal has been circulating as an attempt to soften the term depression that is what we will be facing. Far from being a negative piece I want to focus on my experience of going through that.

I was Freelance – a session hairdresser and was represented by an agent in London. I was working with legitimate industry legends and was proud to be part of the best hair team in the world. It felt fantastic. At the time I didn’t realise what a privilege it was, nor how lucky i was to be rubbing shoulders with hair giants such as Eugene & Angelo. I would of been happy to do that work for decades. I got to travel the globe, work with all different people. We earned good day rates and we got time off in between seasons to focus on other things like raise kids.

Everything was going great until the credit crunch hit. Our work got eaten up, by a perfect storm of technology and the bailing out of the banks. A fresh financial crisis the size of which had never been seen before and i would argue we haven’t recovered from.

In 2009 My wife and I, with our two daughters under 3 years old. We were completely unaware of the shit storm we were about to face. Our lives turned upside with the challenge of being freelance, costs going up, work down and the new normal.

Collaboration or Sponsorship? How everything shifted was scandalous.

In a recession all businesses have to cut costs. The first thing our big brands cut is advertising budgets. The top professionals went looking for big brand sponsorship. Which enabled them to continue to work on shows. These professionals gave brands permission to remove the professionals name from the work so the big brand can let the world know they owned it. It was a signal to the industry they were coming for our jobs.
Those professional individuals like myself that werent quite on the top table when it came to work, We went out to look for collaborators to work on our next project. The work from the agencies began to dry up the magazines slowly started to close and going to work on the shows was for me economically nonviable. With 2 children at home I could no longer justify paying my babysitter more money than i was going to work for.

It’s important to understand what these 3 terms below actually mean;

Collaboration = working for free towards a shared target.
Sponsorship = is being paid or rewarded for endorsing a brand via your work.
Opportunity = Is having to spend your time & money to work for someone else in hope something else happens.

As Brands used sponsorship as a vehicle to get into the industry, every magazine and production house started to use opportunity as the buzz word to get you to work. With the minimum wage being completely sidestepped. We worked for free for a long time. Like i said Collaborating is for a shared goal. No problems with doing that. The problem i had were advertisers and there agencies were lying to workers to work on there project that they were getting paid for.

The shows were the last thing to fall. Now big brands use the shows as a way to sell opportunity to people and get paid in products.

This was the consequence of the last recession of 2008/9. The latest Pandemic and it’s effect on the economy could be 10 times as devastating. With soaring costs and shrinking profits. You have some key decisions to make. We have to go back to basics in order to survive. This is key to the evolution of our industry.

Therefore i ask of you. What are you going to do to help you survive the next 2 years? Have you got a plan? are you going to keep working on your brand? or continue to advertise other peoples.

About the author

Aaron Dorn is a hairdresser with twenty years of experience and a background in finance and computers. He now educates and is a consultant for several companies within the hair and beauty industry.

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