COMM0015 – Event: The WOW Factor

It has been a long while since I’ve been able to attend a professional development event in-person, so today I’m throwing it back to my absolute favourite event that I’ve attended! This event took place in 2019 and was called “VENUS presents: Chris Appleton – The WOW FACTOR”

Now most may not know who Chris Appleton is, BUT I promise that you know who his clients are. Chris is a celebrity hairstylist who works with Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Ariana Grande, and many more celebrities. As a hairstylist, I was SO excited to learn from him. As soon as the event was announced, I bought a front-row ticket and a train to get there. This was also the first time I attended an event like this by myself! I had to commute from Ottawa to Toronto for it, but it was totally worth every minute. After booking an AirBnB and packing a bag, I was ready to head to an event that would forever affect my career as a hairstylist! 

The event was held at the Royal Conservatory of Music, and was set up as an evening cocktail-style event. This event was a look and learn format, so our participation mostly involved watching while Chris demonstrated his techniques. I wanted to get the absolute most out of this event so I made sure to actively take notes during his performance as well as a few videos of demonstrations! At the end of the show, we had the opportunity to meet Chris Appleton! I may look collected in this photo, but let me assure you, I was screaming inside like a fan-girl.

After the event concluded, we also had the opportunity to chat with other event goers. At this point in the evening, I stayed to chat with a few local salon owners and had the chance to network. We exchanged our social media profiles and kept in touch after the event. This part took the most work for me as I was quite nervous being there by myself. 

I chose to walk to my AirBnB after the event because I was so hopped-up on adrenaline. This event was a major inspiration for me, and that was my biggest takeaway. While the tips and techniques were very valuable, my biggest asset was the confidence it gave me. My absolute favorite quote from the evening was when Chris said “let me tell you about a time that I f**ked up Katy Perry’s hair”. This man who works with the biggest named celebrities was humble enough to admit that he makes mistakes too. He talked to us about what it took for him to make it big in the industry and it really inspired me and my work from there out. 

Would I attend an event like this again? YES. Absolutely yes. This event was a pivotal moment for me, I use the techniques I learned at this course nearly everyday in my professional career. Most importantly, this course gave me the courage to really put myself out there more when it comes to social media. For me, this course taught me that I was on the right track to achieving my dreams! 

COMM0015 – Out Of The Box

The main thing that this program has really reiterated and reinforced for me is that social media is ALWAYS changing. Anyone who commits to working in this field will have to constantly educate themselves and learn new techniques and materials. Personally, I find that idea enticing. 

Where is social media applicable?

The short answer? Everywhere. Social media is no longer optional for businesses that want to thrive in 2021. Every business, entrepreneur, and brand needs to either learn social media skills or hire someone who has them. Instagram is the new Google search, and if your brand wants to be found, you have to be there and have an updated profile. 

Applications to make it easier?

The application that has done the absolute most for me when it comes to social media is Later. It’s a scheduling tool that also provides easy-to-digest analytics and tips. The website is more user-friendly, but they have a mobile app as well! From the website, I can schedule and caption my content, as well as tag other accounts, add hashtags, and set my location for the post. From that same website, I have access to helpful visual displays like this to show my progress with 

Screenshot taken from the Later dashboard

Later helps me to stay on-track with social media. I manage four business accounts and it can be overwhelming if I don’t stay on top of my game. Using scheduling software allows me to manage all four accounts within a manageable time-frame. This application has saved my digital life many times!

Overall, this program really helped me to hone my social media skills. While I had already been working in the field, having this formal education helped me to build confidence and work on refining my skills. Social media can be overwhelming, and I would recommend this program to anyone trying to figure it out!

COM0015 – Blog Three: The Power of Networking For Small Business

I have always been a huge cheerleader for networking. Back in hair school, I would volunteer to do photoshoots with other industry professionals and while that didn’t bring me any financial benefits, the networking was invaluable. Those same people would then go on to recommend me to their friends, hire me for late projects, and bring me to even better networking events. After photoshoots I moved on to fashion shows and runways where I got to meet designers, makeup artists, photographers, and models. The cycle continued. While I only attend paid photoshoots now, the few years that I spent donating my time has come back to me because of networking. 

The pandemic presents new challenges when it comes to networking, but it is certainly still very possible to thrive in networking during! My strategy is always to connect with experts and entrepreneurs outside of my niche. For example, because I work as a hairstylist and social media manager, I focus on networking with businesses such as fashion stylists, coffee shops, plant stores, and much more. Essentially, anyone outside of your niche, who still shares your core values, is an excellent person to have as a part of your network. Thankfully, there are a ton of virtual options for growing your network.

For the duration of the pandemic, I’ve taken my networking practice strictly online. One of the biggest assets to this effort has been Facebook groups. I’m in one group called “Blush Boss Co Community” and it’s a group created by a wonderful branding photographer to bring entrepreneurs and business owners together to discuss ideas, share stories, and ask for advice. This group has been a valuable addition to my networking efforts as I’ve met so many great business owners through it. I’ve gained several clients just from this one group, so I highly recommend looking into Facebook groups as a form of networking! 

Snapshot taken of Blush Boss Co Community Facebook Group

None of these efforts have an immediate pay off, so you have to be in it for the long-haul. I suggest spending a few hours a week joining in on discussions in Facebook groups, Instagram lives, and other online avenues to help you connect to other like-minded folks! These things take time, but the relationships you form through networking can have a huge payoff. I’ve set a challenge for myself to find three more online communities to join, and dedicate an hour a week to participating in them for the next six months. I may not see results from this effort for upwards of months, but that time is never wasted. Even if in the short-term all these discussions offer is inspiration, that’s still valuable to my business.

COMM0015 – Blog Two: Strong and Weak Organizations 

We all know that social media is no longer optional for businesses of any size. Consumers are searching Instagram instead of the newspaper now, and all of us have to adapt to this new way of marketing. Some organizations have taken to social media with ease, they’re grasped how to create meaningful content that adds value and understands the importance of interacting with their audience. On the other hand, many organizations are still learning how to thrive online. What is the difference between a thriving organization and a struggling one when it comes to social media? Let’s explore! 

Not Another Salon

This salon based in London has amassed an incredible following in a short amount of time. They currently have over 262,000 followers on their Instagram page. So how did they do it?

Not Another Salon has fully grasped the concept of branding. Every piece of content that they post adds value to their brand and is in-line with what they want to put out into the world. They are a salon known for vivids, blondes, and personality. They’ve successfully branded themselves as a safespace for all the misfits and weirdos of the world by creating a no-judgment policy and putting their own wacky personalities out there on social media. 

They also have engagement down to a science! This salon often receives hundreds of comments per post, but you will always see them replying to most comments. This simple act of acknowledging your audience and making them feel appreciated for their feedback is a huge part of what they do so well. 

Blushes Salon

This salon aims to serve a similar audience. Their target audience is women who don’t mind spending a large chunk of change of their hair. The two lead stylists of the salon often win awards for their high-fashion and avante garde work, and yet that feeling doesn’t translate to their social media presence. With just 542 followers, this company has a lot of room for improvement on their social strategy. 


When I head over to their Instagram page, the biggest thing missing is who they are as a business. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, people want to buy from people, not businesses. On social media, that means showing who your team is and what you care about. Their social strategy should include photos from around the salon such as stylists working on their clients, stylists learning together, happy clients and their new hair, and anything that adds a more personalized feeling to their business. 


Blushes creates STUNNING hair art, but that’s their competition work. When browsing through their socials, I can’t find any of their everyday clients. As a potential client, I want to see people like me and not just runway models. Their social strategy needs to include the work they do on the day-to-day as well as their gorgeous competition work. Right now, they aren’t speaking to their target audience by not featuring them. 

Engagement + Adding Value

Most of the content on their account don’t have any comments on them. This is happening because they aren’t currently creating a call-to-action on their posts. They can remedy this by asking questions to their audience, seeking feedback, or encouraging conversation. By creating posts that add-value to your audience, you’ll encourage engagement and communication. 

Blushes are great potential for creating a booming social media presence. They create beautiful work and just need to learn how to showcase it a bit better. To create a social strategy, I would first recommend that they sit down and get to know their target audience. Who do they follow? What content do they find engaging? What do they want to know about hair? By answering these questions, they’ll have a foundation to form their branding from. After that exercise, I would have them take a day to create content. Snap photos of stylists working on their clients, ask their clients to tell them their favourite part of coming to the salon, get stylists to take a photo with their favourite product and ask why they love it.

Once they’ve created a small content bank, it’s time to post! I suggest sitting down and laying out your images in a way that looks visually appealing. Sit down together and write out captions for the photos. Add value by educating clients on home-care, products, services, and the people who work at the salon. Finish off each post with a call-to-action such as “do you agree? Comment below!”, “what’s your favourite product for post-colour care?”, “Did you know this before?”, or “What is the BEST part about coming to the salon?”. 

By creating content that engages your audience and adds value, you’ll naturally encourage likes and comments. With a min-makeover of their profile, Blushes could learn to perform just as well as Not Another Salon.

COM0015 Blog #1 – Where To Listen On Social Media

Just like social media, listening and monitoring platforms are plentiful. However, just because there are so many available, certainly does not mean that they are all created equal. Trends change on social media VERY quickly and it can be overwhelming Which is exactly why tools like Later and TikTok are invaluable to building and maintaining a successful online presence. 

The first tool that I can’t live without is Later. This is a free service, however I pay for the extra business features to be able to view helpful analytics. Later is a content deployment software that allows users to schedule their posts on various social media platforms and input captions, hashtags, locations, and more. While I could rave about all the things that makes Later great, what I want to focus on right now is their hashtag analytics. There are apps to see the popularity of hashtags, Later goes a step further and shows users how their posts perform within the hashtags being used. 

Like many millennials, I was wary of TikTok. I avoided downloading it for the longest time, but as soon as I did I realized my mistake. TikTok has been the single greatest tool for predicting and monitoring trends for my business. The main platform that I utilize for the social media accounts that I manage is Instagram. Now that Instagram Reels exist, TikTok is more important than ever! All of the trends that hit Reels start off on TikTok. Typically, I’ve noticed it takes about a week  for TikTok trends to move from there to Instagram, so this provides ample opportunity to create content to release when the trend hits. 

I love these tools because they handle both predicting trends and monitoring content performance within those trends. What are some of your favourite social media tools?

Algonquin’s Digital Communication Class At A Glance

As Spring draws near, my time with the Algonquin College Digital Communication course is coming to a close. This course as a whole focuses primarily on the importance of storytelling. In particular, it focuses on bringing modern storytelling into the world of social media. 

Digital storytelling brings life to your online content. I work as a hairstylist and manage my own social media, I’ll be using my own social profiles to help paint the picture of what storytelling will do for your online presence!

  1. Knowing Your Own Story

Do you really know your own story as a personal brand? Without taking the time to really get to know either yourself or your business, you cannot begin to properly share that with your audience. By getting to know and understand your story and what you want to showcase to the world, you’ll have a guide on what kind of content you want to put out into the world. 

  1. Sharing That Story

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. People want to buy from people, not companies. By putting your own experiences and thoughts into your content, you’re creating a human connection with your audience. By letting them get to know you, you build trust. When you build trust, you naturally make more sales. 

Content deployed with storytelling
Content deployed without storytelling

By taking what I’ve learned from this course, I’ve been able to personalize my content even further. I’ve taken the time to really understand what story I want to put out into the world, and learned how to deliver it. Now that I know that, I can use that as the baseline that I use for all of my content.

The Story Of A Hairstyling Apprentice In A Program That Needs To Change

The hair industry has a lot to offer, it’s creative, passionate, and centered around making people feel beautiful. However, as with any industry, it has it’s dark spots. Today I’m going to let you know the story of my apprenticeship, and how the entire program has harmed many hair professionals.

Photo by Sophie Fortier for Emma Bouliane

I’d like to start off by mentioning that not everyone has a negative experience during their apprenticeship, but overall it’s shockingly common to have had a rough time going through the program.

Alright, let us picture the scene. The year is 2016 and I’m a fresh-faced and hopeful student taking the Algonquin College hairstyling program. I had always been a tad more ambitious than most in my class, and because of this I wanted to begin my apprenticeship right away. In school, they taught us that your apprenticeship is the process of taking your school skills and turning them into salon skills. They painted a picture of mentorship, learning, and opportunities. However, that is not the experience I had. 

After completing my first day as an apprentice at a local salon, the receptionist approached me at the end of the shift and expressed how impressed she was. “Wow” she said, “the boss makes almost every apprentice cry by the end of their first day, good job!”. Startled, I hadn’t realized that not crying was something to be thankful for. 

While I had made it out of the first week without a tear, my streak hadn’t lasted much longer than that. I was so grateful to have an apprenticeship opportunity that I decided I needed to push through and pay my dues. And that very sentence is where the problem in our industry lies. 

Like myself, so many young stylists-in-the-making are convinced that we should be so grateful for an apprenticeship opportunity that we shouldn’t question how we are treated. I lasted nine months at that salon before moving on to another in hopes of something better. The next experience was even worse than the first. Apprentices tend to be treated as lackeys, instead of being given opportunities to observe and learn, they are busied with cleaning, errands, meaningless tasks, and grunt work. While it is important to assist and help as an apprentice, when that becomes your only role, you don’t actually gain any mentoring. 

It wasn’t until my third salon until I found somewhere with a good balance between apprenticeship and assistant duties. The hair industry as a whole needs to reevaluate their relationship with apprentices and refocus on education instead of grueling busy-work. I can’t wait until I have the opportunity to properly mentor a younger stylist and show them that the industry cares about them.

Emma Ward Hair – My Personal Brand

In my natural habitat – The salon!

I’ve been consciously working on my personal brand for the last four years, and reflecting on that progress has been a very positive experience. I work as a hair stylist that specializes in vivid and custom hair colors.While I do a bit of everything, my audience knows me best for the bold and exciting vivid colors that I create for my clients!

While my bold color work does make me stand out, what really sets me apart from my competition is my big personality and obscure fashion sense. My audience knows that when they come to get a service from me, it will feel like sitting down for your hype-queen friend. I will make you look like a goddess, while chatting excitedly with you about whatever lights your soul on fire. There’s also a very high chance that I will do so while wearing patterned bell-bottoms or sparkly sneakers. 

Custom vivid color by Emma Ward

While I tend to have a flare for the dramatic when it comes to clothing choices, I also spend a lot of time investing in my education to better serve my clients. This allows me to stay up to date on current trends, techniques, and technologies on all things hair. Investing in my education is something I take great pride in and I enjoy sharing what classes I’m taking with my audience online. 

Lastly, through a lot of hard work and education, I’ve been able to express my personal brand online because of the effort I’ve put into it. I learned very quickly that managing social media is a skill that you must develop and work on to keep your skills up-to-date!

Blog #4 – Merriam-Webster is Making The Dictionary Cool

I’m sure that at some point, we’ve all held a dictionary in our hands. While I don’t think of fun and excitement when I think about the dictionary, Merriam-Webster is doing their best to change that. 

I don’t currently own a dictionary, and probably haven’t since I was in elementary school. While I don’t have an interest in changing that anytime soon, the Twitter account for Merriam-Webster still struck my interest. They’ve managed to take something as boring and predictable as the dictionary, and given it flair. While they also have an Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook presence, for the sake of this article we’ll be focusing on their Twitter account since it’s the most successful. 

Universally, one of the biggest struggles for big companies when it comes to social media is becoming relatable to their audience. In short, being relatable makes companies feel more “human” and helps connect them to their audience. Merriam-Webster has achieved relatability through a very active Twitter presence. They post tweets several times a day, and often add GIFs and pop-culture references to keep things interesting and engaging. 

For example, here’s a great post where they chose to use a GIF from Schitt’s Creek (a popular Netflix series) to introduce one of the words they’ve added to the dictionary. 

The biggest thing lacking from their social media is an effort to engage in the comment section of their posts. If they chose to respond to comments, they could take the nine comments seen above and turn that into eighteen while also building better relationships with their followers. 

Overall, the social media presence for Merriam-Webster is impressive. They’re working with a product that isn’t typically exciting and creating a buzz around it. Their efforts put into becoming relatable are paying off, they have almost a million Twitter followers. If they work on engaging with their audience better, I think they could build something rather incredible. Would you have ever thought to look up Merriam-Webster on social media? 

Want to check out some other big brands doing a great job with their social media game? Find more here:

Blog #3 – Finding Your Ideal Client

When I started my social media presence, someone gave me a great tip that I’ve never forgotten. “If you try to speak to everyone, you’ll speak to no one”, this phrase has stayed with me since then and I still marvel in the truth of it. Knowing who you’re trying to sell to is imperative to doing business of any sort. Want to know how to find your ideal client? Keep reading.

In classes, we’ve been taught to identify and seek out our target audience. While this is an excellent practice, I choose to narrow it down even further and that’s what I’ll be sharing with you today. We’re going to explore both what I’ve learned from classes and practical knowledge to create our ideal client.

First of all, I’d like to introduce you to my ideal client; Sam. Yep, she even has a name. 

To create Sam, I had to sit down and do a deep dive into what I know about my target audience and current demographic. She’s composed of the clients I want to attract and the clients that I currently have and love. 

So, let’s break it down. I’m a hairstylist who specializes in vivid hair colors. I thrive when I get to create hair art that is bold, bright, or unique. While these services do appeal to men and women, 85% of my vivid clients identify as female. Therefore, Sam is a lady. Next, my vivid clients are 16-55 years old. The average age however is 25, which you’ve guessed it, is how old Sam is. 

From there, I conducted research amongst my current clients (who are my favourite to work with) on where they shop, work, socialize, and spend their time. I did this by talking to them directly and by creating polls and questionnaires using my Instagram stories. 

If you’re struggling to identify who your target audience is, I’ve attached this video for your consideration! I found it quite helpful.

Now that I’ve gathered data on my audience, I can identify exactly the client I want to attract to my business. Here is the bio I wrote for Sam:

“Sam is a 25-year-old entrepreneur. She works part-time for the government of Canada and full-time working on her side-hustle as a crafter. Sam is kind, quirky, and witty. She shops at stores like Black Squirrel Books, All Dolled Up, and Flower to The People. She visits local coffee shops and spends a lot of time crafting or socializing with other artists.”

In addition, I know that Sam (and clients just like her) tend to spend a lot of time on Instagram and Tiktok. She’s not afraid to stand out and likes to experiment with her look. 

By creating this profile, it gives me a focus when I write a copy. I know that I want to talk directly to Sam and people like her, this way, I know that I’m attracting my dream client to my business. It also allows me to understand where I should focus my time online in order to find more dream clients. Like stated before, Sam uses Instagram and Tiktok, therefore that’s where I should be putting my social media efforts as well. 

While you may have already heard of finding your target audience, have you ever thought about narrowing it down to find your ideal client? Let me know!