The Journal Interview / 2020: Enter Co and Pace Salons, Brisbane

By November 27, 2020 March 17th, 2023 No Comments
The Journal Magazine
Publication: The Journal
Date: Circa Sept 11, 2020
Online Article Link

“Co and Pace Salons is the fundamental expression of my three decades’ experience in the hairdressing industry; the objective of a rigorously educated and trained, practically skilled team able to deliver personalised, tailored looks exploring the latest techniques and trends – finally able to be realised.”
Justin Pace

Enter the first Co and Pace Salon: a luxe hairdressing destination in the heart of Brisbane City.

Brainchild of celebrated Australian hairdresser Justin Pace, the new space combines a chic, Euro-Japanese aesthetic with a warm, welcoming ambience – offering clients a relaxing hair haven amidst the hustle and bustle of Brisbane’s CBD.

And stunning hair, no less.

Culminating Justin’s decades of industry experience, business acumen and an ever-growing passion for the art of hairdressing, Co and Pace offers a spectrum of colour, cut and styling services – delivered with characteristic, practiced finesse.

Fresh off the salon’s recent renovation, we caught up with Justin for a glimpse behind the front desk.


TJ: What’s new in the world of Justin Pace?

JP: As the sole Owner and Creative Director, I began Co and Pace Salons in January of 2020. The Brisbane City site occupies the same premises patronised by clients of my former salon, Papas and Pace Advanced Hairdressing (2007 – 2019).

TJ: How have you been navigating life and business ownership amid the Covid-19 pandemic?

JP: To help navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, have focused on accepting change and looking toward the future. Times have been different and tough, however everyone is going through the same thing.

At the end of March, I closed my business for three weeks (which was the best thing I could have done where staff and clients were concerned.) Upon return, a much more positive atmosphere permeated the salon.

Alongside the business keeping me busy, I’ve been working with Redken International on creating a completely new format of education has kept me immersed in the finer details of online tuition.

TJ: Tell us about the new salon. Can you describe the Co and Pace culture?

JP: Co and Pace Salons is the fundamental expression of my three decades’ experience in the hairdressing industry; the objective of a rigorously educated and trained, practically skilled team able to deliver personalised, tailored looks exploring the latest techniques and trends – finally able to be realised.

As my team has always been extremely important to me, the fact has been evidenced in the wording of my eponymous brand. Since ‘co.’ is short for the word ‘company’, view Co and Pace Salons as a valued fellowship of associates able to envisage (like me) the highest-quality outcomes for all (colleague and client, alike.)

Client-wise, my team and I seek to appease not only through a superior hair service, but an aesthetically pleasing, amiable environment able to offer guest-centric, yearned-for escapism.

This is achieved via a relaxed but detailed provision of hospitality, ultimately facilitating the comfortable, communicative dialogue required for a client to attain a thorough consultation, memorable experience and transformative outcome.

TJ: Where is the salon located and why did you choose this region?

JP: Co and Pace Salons is located in Brisbane’s CBD at 160 Ann Street (in the middle of centralised train and bus hubs, and a stone’s throw from Queen Street Mall.)

As the one-way Ann Street is a key CBD exit pathway (offering departure to either the North or South bank of the city), it’s constantly flooded with traffic – offering excellent exposure.

I chose to locate Co and Pace Salons in Brisbane’s CBD for two reasons: 1. due to my previous 12-year brand that was ultimately established in the area and premises; 2. the city is a high-density corporate zone. 

TJ: Tell us about the recent salon renovations. What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered through this process?

JP: Renovating was something I knew I was going to do, however COVID-19 really fast-tracked the process – we designed and planned within an eight-week period.

One of the challenges I encountered through the renovation process was trying to receive stock, as there’s normally an 8-12 week lead time. Thereafter, adding COVID-19 to the mix pushed the availability of Australian materials to the limit.

Another challenge I encountered was having to cancel clients. This was difficult, as I structure the salon model on re-booking every 6-8 weeks.


TJ: What inspired the salon’s design and aesthetic? Any notable features or details?

JP: As my grandfather was Sicilian, I wanted the tiles used throughout to be a nod to my lineage. Alongside Italian chairs and glassware, we used Italian tiles to create the black and white mosaic herringbone floor (plus surface the reception and basin areas.)

To amalgamate the use of the white reception and black basin tiles, we included custom-made dual-level station benches with the former and framed the mosaic floor with the latter (many mosaic floors traditionally encased by borders.)

Since I also have a true love for all things Japanese (food, fashion, culture, philosophy, history, traditions), we let this aesthetic creep into the salon too. In the reception and basin areas, I incorporated repetitive timber slats (juxtaposing Italian elements), and for the serving of green and herbal tea cast iron pots and authentic handle-less cups.

The space feels warm and inviting, with integrated brass footrests and brushed brass metal strips on station benches to counter the mezze black slate trays with brass handles on which clients are served hot towels, beverages and refreshments.

To help complement the spiral staircase to the mezzanine staffroom and office, thought to include entry-palpable curvature in the reception retail shelf – something I felt was necessary to generate counterbalance and a sense of emotional cosiness.

Lastly, I have three other notable aesthetic features up my sleeve… however as they’re still in the planning and design phase, I cannot reveal particulars!


TJ: Talk us through your key service offerings. Who is the target Co and Pace client?

JP: As Co and Pace Salons is directly in Brisbane’s CBD (surrounded by corporate businesses), our target client is the professional (female/male lawyer, accountant or doctor). In addition we also look after individuals who work in fashion and hospitality.

Our goal is to help facilitate the long, staggered hours of work across these industries, by offering flexible opening and closing times.

Co and Pace Salons’ key service offerings include easy-to-maintain, custom cuts and colours – able to keep the professional/individual look consistent and immaculate (elevating personality, aesthetic and lifestyle.)

TJ: What have been some of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in business ownership?

JP: In a successful business, you’re challenged on a daily basis with obstacles and problems to solve. At the onset, most seem like a mountain – however over time these become manageable. In the end, the outcome is always for the better.

Overall, the biggest chunks of time are allocated to nurturing both staff and clients (as each are integral to the longevity of a business.)


TJ: And triumphs?

JP: Being the Owner and Creative Director of three successful businesses has underscored both my career and life. That said, now being at the sole helm of Co and Pace Salons is my penultimate accomplishment – feeling both surreal and exhilarating.

In addition, working for one of the world’s leading product companies both internationally and nationally (Redken 5th Avenue NYC) has not only allowed me to travel the world but bring the array of skills inherently learnt back to the business – ultimately benefitting both my staff and clients.


TJ: The Co is short for Company… In your opinion, how important is creating and maintaining a respectful and welcoming team environment?

JP: Ultimately, create a respectful and welcoming team environment by treating others the way I’d like to be treated (my biggest life motto!) Also try to role model the courteous behaviours I’d like my team to show each other and myself (respect being a two-way street; both between two people and as something to be earned.)

Maintenance-wise, my aim is to build trust and loyalty with my employees by including them in important decisions.


TJ: What qualities do you typically look for when employing new staff?

JP: Eagerness, the willingness to try and openness.


TJ: As an award winning creative in your own right, how do you foster creativity among your employees? Any staff incentives or initiatives?

JP: I try to foster creativity via regular training, meetings, mentorship, instruction, logistical assistance, financial support and cultural immersion.

As I’ve individually driven development via company representation (business acumen, ethics, acting as a judge, assembling shows, preparing for awards, conversing with media outlets, supporting industry-specific institutions/comparable domains, providing time, knowledge, experience and resources for various charities/communities, plus self-regulating individual inspiration/motivation) I feel that this not only models all of the appropriate elements but at some level, rouses the yearning to aspire to ever-higher peaks of the profession.

I try to facilitate every available opportunity, from taking my staff members away to work at fashion week and on photoshoots to encouraging involvement across all educational platforms.

TJ: How do you ensure your staff are well versed/trained on all facets of hairdressing?

JP: Even though Co and Pace Salons is a brand that specialises in one skill area, I still believe fundamental training/techniques to be a key component of any apprenticeship. As such, training and instruction in every hairdressing discipline are central to the way I educate an apprentice.


TJ: What’s next for yourself and the team? Any new editorial collections on the horizon?

JP: What’s next for myself and the Co and Pace Salons’ team is to establish a brand that has all the right elements aligned for not only success, but longevity. Collection-wise…  I guess you’ll just have to wait and see!

Read the interview here.

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