Elline Surianello: “Change your hair and change your life”

Women need to periodically reinvent themselves. What worked for them when they were 20 will not work when they are 40 or 60. It often means assessing what makeup works for you, what clothing style best flatters your figure and what hairstyle complements your features. In our business, we say ‘Change your hair and change […]

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Women need to periodically reinvent themselves. What worked for them when they were 20 will not work when they are 40 or 60. It often means assessing what makeup works for you, what clothing style best flatters your figure and what hairstyle complements your features. In our business, we say ‘Change your hair and change your life.’

I had the pleasure of interviewing Elline Surianello, LeMetric founder. Elline is a hair loss specialist who created the only customized, semi-permanent method of hair replacement exclusively for women using natural, high quality hair you can do anything with — wash it, style it, sleep in it or even swim in it — live in it as if it were your own! Surianello has helped thousands of women with hair loss and thinning hair for over 25 years at her New York City atelier and is a leading expert for women’s custom hair replacement.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

As a woman who has suffered from thinning hair and hair loss since childhood, I searched for a solution for many years. When I finally found something that was comfortable and looked natural, I wanted to share that with other women experiencing the same problem. That was the genesis of LeMetric Hair Design Studio. We have been serving women with hair loss for over 25 years.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In 1991, before I even opened a retail location in Manhattan, I pitched Ladies Home Journal about the women’s hair replacement solution I had created. Once the article ran, I received 4,000 calls in one month. I booked a meeting room in a Philadelphia hotel and invited women there to learn about the chemical free, glue free and non-surgical hair replacement system I had developed. I thought maybe 30 women would show up, but there were over 200. By the end of the first year, I had over 9,000 inquiries. And this was all before the internet.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

The tipping point was when, after the Philadelphia session, I had collected over 30,000 dollars in deposits and had no idea how I was going to deliver the product. I went to Buffalo to discuss it with my father. He asked me how I was going to do this. I told him I didn’t know, but somehow, I would make it work. I quickly found a location in Manhattan, purchased equipment, hired staff and told clients they would have to come to New York to be fitted for a hair replacement system. It was a kind of ‘build it and they will come’ moment, and they did.

The takeaway is that when you see a window of opportunity, you have to decide whether you are going to go for it or run. I believed I was going to succeed and I had the patience to see it through. When I saw that window, I had no money, no location and no staff, but I knew I could not succumb to fear because fear will destroy you.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

When I was working at the Barbizon School of Modeling, I heard about a man in Houston who was an expert in doing weaves for African American women, many of whom were performers. I went to Houston and he created a weave for me. He was the one who taught me the mechanics of hair weaving. And then I met a man who specialized in making wigs for the Orthodox Jewish community, and he helped me source high quality human hair which, at that time, came from Italy. Without their guidance, I would never have been able to start this business. Thanks to them, I was able to develop and refine a method of hair replacement for European hair.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The global beauty industry today has grown to more than a half a trillion dollar business. Can you tell us about the innovations that you are bringing to the industry? How do you think that will help people?

With the onset of Covid 19, everything has changed in the world of personal services. People don’t want to come to a brick and mortar location, but they still need those services, especially women suffering from hair loss.

What we are doing is changing our model by taking our services direct to consumer. We are doing that in various ways. Several years ago, we purchased a vehicle to serve as a mobile salon. I had a feeling that the industry was changing and we had to be ready to change with it. Now, that mobile salon will enable us to take our services to clients’ homes or to a location in their community so they don’t have to come to our New York studio. We are also creating a system where women can access our service remotely. We will be able to determine the size, color and style of their hair replacement system through technology, manufacture it in our New York studio, and then work with a local salon to install it.

My message to the industry is that you must change your delivery model to fit the times. Covid 19 has cost us a great deal, but it also presents opportunities to innovative entrepreneurs.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?

  1. I am excited to see how brands are reinventing themselves to meet new consumer needs, and how they will use the pandemic as an opportunity rather than a disaster.
  2. I think the current environment is going to inspire more collaboration among personal service businesses, especially in the beauty industry.
  3. I believe there will be a consolidation of services that provides more flexibility for the consumer. For example, a woman may be able to receive multiple services in the same location, access services remotely and digitally, and have services brought directly to them.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?

  1. I am concerned that many small businesses in the beauty industry are going to fail. They’ll need to reinvent themselves and determine how they are going to deliver services to consumers. If they don’t know how to do that, they need to collaborate with other small businesses.
  2. Small businesses often don’t recognize their strengths and weaknesses. They must do a self-analysis or consult with savvy marketers in the industry to determine how to move forward. They should stay in the lane where their strengths exist and figure out how to take their products and services to the consumer through new delivery models.
  3. I worry about the thousands of people who will become unemployed if small businesses in the industry go under. This is why collaboration is so important.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?

Women need to periodically reinvent themselves. What worked for them when they were 20 will not work when they are 40 or 60. It often means assessing what makeup works for you, what clothing style best flatters your figure and what hairstyle complements your features. In our business, we say ‘Change your hair and change your life.’

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, Can you please share “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”. Please share a story or an example, for each.

  1. Understand the environment. How you delivered products and services in the past may not work in a changing environment. Ask yourself if the product or service needs to be adjusted. An example of that is taking our service directly to the customer.
  2. Keep your emotions in check. Just because you have a vision, a passion or think you have a great idea doesn’t mean it will work. It’s important to master business and finance concepts to ensure that your great idea makes sense. If you don’t know how to do that, collaborate with others and learn from their experience. Failing that, read or confer with experts.
  3. Be ready to respond when you see a window of opportunity. I wasn’t ready at the beginning but I figured it out in time and made it a success. Study the industry, know the competition, and understand what’s needed to achieve success. In other words, have a plan that touches all aspects of the business.
  4. Don’t hesitate to collaborate with others. Most successful businesses in the beauty industry do. If you are a small business, seek out complementary businesses and investigate what you can do together that you couldn’t accomplish alone. For that reason, we are developing The Lifestyle Beauty Network, a marketing collaboration for providers of personal services that include those in the beauty industry. We expect to launch this in 2021. Right now, we are identifying potential participants in a wide range of industries including beauty, medical, spas and the like.
  5. Have the patience to weather the ups and downs. Every business has rough patches and the ones that make it are the ones that don’t throw in the towel when times get difficult. We were able to survive the recession of 2008 because we stayed focused, marketed and expanded our offerings. Due to the pandemic, we are now finding ways to deliver our services in a different way.

Right now, everyone has rent issues. Does that mean you’re going to walk away or are you going to eliminate that which no longer makes sense. That may mean changing a location, the products or services, or marketing their business in a different way. Entrepreneurs look at the glass as half full not half empty.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Women-owned small businesses are the backbone of every community and employ more people nationwide than any other sector. By launching The Lifestyle Beauty Network, I hope to give these women entrepreneurs an opportunity to collaborate, learn from one another, market together and refer customers to one another. There is no reason any small business owner has to be out their weathering the economy all alone. This kind of collaboration can help women save their businesses and thrive.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite saying is ‘Never stop, keep going.’ I think everything I’ve described to you thus far demonstrates that.

How can our readers follow you online?

I am on Instagram and Face Book both as @EllineSurianello and @LeMetric. Our website is www.lemetric.com. We also have numerous videos on You Tube under LeMetric.

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