‘The price you pay for running an international hairdressing empire? Get up early, my alarm goes off at half past five. I live in New York, where we have a business, in the Netherlands it is already noon. Night falls just then in Bali, two salons. Because of those different time zones you are actually always working. I maintain this pace by exercising daily and eating super healthy. At noon I do a power nap and I can take it again until the evening, which makes it feel like I have two days in one.
“As a teenager I already worked in my father’s business, Rob, in the summer. He started with the first in 1969, now there are fifteen. I helped with taking coats, making coffee, sweeping hair. I got no money; you have a roof over your head, he would say.
“When people ask me what it was like to be in charge of the company, I say: I didn’t get that position, I worked for it. Precisely as ‘daughter of’ I felt that I had something to prove. That’s why I first studied economics, set up several companies and did an internship at l’Oréal and the British vogue.
“Around 2015 I became more and more involved with the company. I started at the head office in Haarlem, did the marketing and social media, and knew that I had to use influencers to reach a younger generation. In that year we opened our second salon in Bali. I then noticed that the organization might be getting too big for Rob’s leadership style. He was the creative spirit, brought inspiration to the floor. But he had not studied economics, was less interested in strategy, overview and long-term planning.
“I noticed that various islands had arisen in the company and that a certain degree of innovation was lacking. So I asked Rob more and more often: why are you doing this? Can’t this be any other way? I was able to convince him with my advice and gradually became involved in more and more aspects of the company: hairdressing training, personnel policy, long-term strategy, finances. In the beginning that was sometimes difficult: ‘she did the social media, what is she involved in?’
„I think leadership is in your personality, it is difficult to learn. In my case I am solution-oriented, forward-thinking and clear in my communication. I am what you call a anxious achiever – I can get nervous thinking I’m not reaching certain goals fast enough. That gives me the strength to work hard. Yet I show that nervousness less: to the outside world I want to show that I am strong in my shoes, so you get more people on board.
“Where my father made all decisions on his own, I am all for delegation. I’ve hired a new management team, and the five of us make the most important decisions. We complement each other: my strength lies mainly in marketing and branding.
„I am at my best during a crisis situation, solving it gives me energy. In 2020, when I was only in charge for a year, the pandemic struck. My management and I were working day and night, constantly having to make new decisions for our 350 employees.
I do think it would have been easier if I was older and a man: as a young woman you have to fight against prejudices
“What does a boss earn? Currently little – due to the pandemic, our company has a lot cash lost. If I show you my bank account, you won’t be happy. During healthy years we had a turnover of about 20 million euros, in the past two years that was 10 percent lower. We considered closing the Brooklyn salon because of the $30,000 a month rent. But in the end, after six months of negotiations with my landlord, I managed to negotiate a hefty discount for the next twelve years. As a result, the business is financially sound again. I myself now earn no more than the people in the other management positions at the head office. That will come later, when we start making more profit again.
“Being a young leader has plenty of advantages: your energy, your urge to prove. Since I am single and have no children, I can give my job everything. I do think it would have been easier if I was older and a man: as a young woman you have to fight against prejudice.
“I have big plans for Rob Peetoom, I want us to be the Chanel of the beauty industry. Precisely because it is a family business, I want to protect what my father built. His expectations are high, but he believes in me.”
‘Because of the different time zones, I’m always working’
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