'When entrepreneurs fall in love with love.'

While hair salons closed during lockdown, sales of at-home hair dye kits soared. San Francisco company Madison Reed saw its sales surge.

Amy Errett from Madison Reed

Amy Errett from Madison Reed

We spoke to founder Amy Errett for the Courier podcast. Listen above or read the story below.

‘I have this theory about leadership: it’s not hierarchical. I've known that my entire life. Every person is a leader. Every person in the company – every colourist, every person on the client interaction, every person who's been trying to get boxes to people in time for them to do their hair, even when FedEx and DHL have half the number of people working because of social distancing – all those people are leaders. So, while I’ve learned a lot, I think everyone has learned a lot.

The first lesson is that triage management is a very different set of skills. I'm still an investor, so there are lots of companies I've been involved with which have gone the other way and had very hard and difficult times. A lot of our team members have partners who have lost their jobs and that's been devastating. We're dealing in triage management in our fulfilment centre, not wanting people to break social distancing and get sick. So, where is our moral compass on that? We make our colour in Italy – there has been triage management to make sure that those boxes are getting on a boat and getting here so that we have product for people. What triage management has taught me is that [leadership is] not just from the head, but the heart. Madison Reed might be going gangbusters [but our team] still have kids at home, financial stuff that's changed for them, maybe a partner has lost their job. They're worried about health and safety. Maybe their parents got sick. There is a multitude of stuff.

Number two is that rapid growth exposes all of the good things [in a company] but also the challenges. Our business has probably accelerated 14 to 18 months in two days. So, I've learned that all the rapid growth exposes the strengths that you have and the brand equity, but also all the inefficiencies – and, wow, that's been an eye-opener for me and helped me rank and prioritise how we're going to look at our business going forward.

And then the third thing I've learned is that when you go from running a good company with great growth that’s on a trajectory to running a company that’s [suddenly] on everybody's radar.... it doesn't change anything. It changes the value of the company, but it doesn't change who I am, what we stand for, the choices we make, the decisions that are important. Because this company has always been based on a set of cultural values that are not going to change because all of a sudden we're in the forefront of what investors or other people are interested in. We are who we are. It's the stake in the ground. Our 15 minutes of fame is all very nice, but we're still the people that have to deliver everyday. 

What I tell people all the time is you may want to talk to me – that’s great, thank you very much, but now I gotta go back and execute! When entrepreneurs get in love with love itself, things can go off the rails because you start making decisions that aren’t based on who you really are.’

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