Head Office Hair Specialist founder, entrepreneur, award-winning stylist, an Irish immigrant to Australia, and proud mum of two boys, Leanne Devine settles in for an interview with long term friend Bob Mendelsohn for an interview on his Bob’s Your Uncle Podcast. A weekly show that provides a light but educational take on various current affairs topics including sports, politics, books, religion, history and people.
This year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have been more than just an opportunity to indulge in Irish-themed festival merriment, entertainment, food and drink. At least for the Head Office Hair Specialist founder Leanne Devine.
During her interview with Bob’s Your Uncle podcast host, Bob Mendelsohn, she affirmed the significance of the date in her life, including how it marked the start of her business 12 years ago when she earned her Australian citizenship and being the anniversary of her wedding. The two have known each other for about 12 years, after spending around 3.5 years as neighbouring business owners and Bob even attending her wedding as a guest.
Having all the stars align around this particular date of St. Patrick’s Day, Leanne has long had good reasons to celebrate the occasion with loved ones and urge others to partake of the festivities that have become so much a part of the local community that there is now a dedicated parade and festival organised in Sydney each year.
Though an immigrant to Australia, Leanne has long had deep affection and connection to the country from her childhood through her parents who travelled here from Belfast not long after marrying. Her father took up a teaching post and cultivated a love for Australia that was evidently passed on to his daughter.
Raised in Ireland, Leanne found herself often complaining about the weather and was repeatedly advised by her father to travel to Australia where she could enjoy the warmth and beaches. An idea that was further engrained by her love for popular soap, Home and Away.
Finally, when she was 23 years old, she got the opportunity to visit Australia on a backpacking adventure with her cousin and got the chance to explore and discover the wonders of the outback and various Australian towns and cities, while meeting all sorts of interesting people along the way.
Describing it as one of the best times of her life, it encouraged her to later make the crucial decision to stay back while her cousin returned home at the end of their trip. She secured a sponsorship with a local salon and went on to build up her experience until she managed to set up her own salon, Head Office Hair Specialist, 12 years ago. Her business name was gifted to her by her aunt who then lived in Perth.
Leanne attributed much of the success of her business to being able to hire and work with people that have a good personality and work ethic. She added that due to the tough work culture in Ireland that pushed young people to start working early, many Irish had developed a strong work ethic early on.
This coupled with the superior hairdressing education in Ireland made it fertile ground to find highly skilled hairdressing professionals. She noted that this may have been inspired by the English who were the first to make hairdressing a recognised profession and popularise the business in the late 1960s when glamour shots became more mainstream.
As Bob highlighted her belief that excellence matters, Leanne pointed to her experiences working and training at the famed Irish hairdressing chain Peter Mark from the age of 16 years. It was here that she learnt the value of delivering a fulfilling customer experience with every visit. She applauded the salon’s training that nurtured her skills and exposed her to an effective system that taught her to always have the right attitude and ensure the best customer service. Qualities she found replicated in the staff she later hired that also underwent their training at Peter Mark.
Having travelled to Ireland over Christmas, she also noted that it was the first time in a long time that she wanted to move back home. Having gotten sick with coronavirus at the time, she appreciated the wonderful support system she enjoyed from family caring for their needs. She however said it could also be a desire to be closer to family that was getting older and experiencing a change in her priorities.
When asked about raising children in Australia, Leanne highlighted her appreciation of the wonderful weather and the outdoor lifestyle afforded by living in Australia, including the love of football that her husband had inspired in her son and led to requests by French Forest schools to have him come in and teach their students how to play Gaelic football. A variation of English football that is considered more complex due to the smaller heavier ball and incorporation of rugby-style rules.
She remarked that her goal for her children was to see them grow with confidence and good values. She hoped that they would go on to realise their dreams and lead lives where they would be kind to others. She acknowledged the need to be down to earth and always having gratitude in life.
Click here to listen to the complete interview. For more information on Head Office Hair Specialist and all the services and products they offer, visit their website here. You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram.