FEATURED: Winning, by extension

Yovanka Loria has turned a passion for hair and a desire to educate into a major success. Her story reveals the secrets to taking a home-based business global.

Yovanka Loria found a passion for hairdressing at a young age and started working in a hair salon on the weekends and during school holidays from the age of 12. Over the following 28 years, Yovanka pursued her passion and turned it into a career, working in hairdressing salons in Adelaide, Melbourne, Los Angeles and New York.

After having her children, Yovanka opened her own home-based salon in Adelaide in 2017. She saw this as the opportunity to develop her fascination with hair extensions, which she had adopted as a small hobby, into a more serious venture. “I took it upon myself to learn everything I could about weft hair extensions, along with business strategy and marketing,” Yovanka explains. “While using other hair extension brands, I realised there was a gap in the market for high-quality, hand-tied hair.”

In 2018, Yovanka secured exclusive rights to develop her own brand and introduced Yovanka Loria Extensions luxury hand-tied hair extensions.

“We now have over 60 salons/stockists across Australia, and counting.”

“To say that I didn’t foresee the rapid growth of our Extensions range would be an understatement,” Yovanka laughs. “Within a year, my husband, Vlad, became a vital part of business operations and we promptly established the Yovanka Loria collective brand.” The couple run their salon, extensions and education businesses separately but the three elements collectively make up the YL brand and are all vital to their business model.

A rapid growth curve

Within two short years, Yovanka has created what she describes as a “nationwide phenomenon”, earning plaudits for the unique nature and distinctive quality of her hair extensions. Yovanka Loria has become the country’s fastest-growing hair extension brand, despite the fact that they are only available only from qualified stylists who have successfully completed Yovanka’s own training scheme.

“Since 2018, we have expanded our business to form an exclusive community of elite hair stylists who specialise in YL Extensions, and become stockists of the same, becoming an exclusive provider and able to offer our one-of-a-kind luxury service to their clientele,” Yovanka explains.

That community of stylists is supported through the education arm of the YL brand. This involves an intensive two-day course offering hands-on training to learn the technique and custom application, alongside a marketing and business component on day two, with ongoing support and continued guidance.

Taking the brand global

In 2020, during the pandemic, Yovanka formed an international collaboration in the US to distribute YL to hairstylists across America. “We now have over 60 salons/stockists across Australia (and counting), and we are stocked in over 400 salons in the United States through our distributor, Salt Strands Salon,” Yovanka enthuses. Salt Strands owner Val Plunk says, “Yovanka’s hand-tied hair extensions filled the gap for everything that was missing in the hair extensions world.”

Yovanka sees the collaboration with Salts Strands – and the backing of the brand from US stylists that has resulted from it – as not only benefiting the company’s growth, but also creating further opportunities, not just for individual stylists and salons, but for the entire YL community.

The expansion into the US has turbo-charged the brand’s turnover, which is increasing at an average of 261 per cent, month on month.

Diversifying revenue streams

The expansion of YL’s offering into education has created a new revenue stream for the brand, and for those receiving the training.

“A by-product of helping other stylists who shared the same struggles with hair extensions was the escalation of our education component,” Yovanka explains. “We began teaching our method to stylists across Australia and then offered those stylists who met our criteria a position in our training. The program is designed to educate stylists on not only the YL Extension installation method, but an entirely new business model, assisting them to build a profitable business by creating a high-end revenue stream.”

Giving stockists the platform to work with her products resulted in an instantaneous increase in trade for the YL brand. “As well as providing a steady flow of new ideal clients, it gave us a pathway to working smarter, not harder,” Yovanka avers. “Implementing a marketing strategy to complement this, coupled with a passion for success, has created a profitable business with a solid future.”

The rapid growth of Yovanka’s brand has not gone unnoticed by her peers and the wider business community. In 2021, she won the South Australian Woman ‘The Innovator’ Award. The brand was also recognised at the 2021 APAC Australian Enterprise Awards, where YL Extensions won the title for Best Hair Extensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Winning these awards has provided us with the opportunity to facilitate instrumental changes in our industry and drive innovation for generations to come,” Yovanka says. “The awards signify that anything really is possible.”

Sam James is owner and creative director of Adelaide’s award-winning SJ Establishment Salon and third runner-up for the 2022 AIPP Best Avant Garde hairdresser award. She has recently aligned with YL Extensions.

“I love supporting local South Australian businesses,” Sam says. “I trialled the YL wefts in my own hair, after never being fully satisfied with many others. I felt the quality and saw the incredibly natural result and wanted that for all of our clients.”

Sam is particularly grateful for the time Yovanka put into understanding what SJ Establishment is as a company, who Sam is as an individual, and Sam’s strategy and strong desire to create a profitable and stable business with a solid future. “With Yovana’s extensive training and support, we saw an instant increase in trade and a steady flow of new clients in a new market for us,” Sam says.

Reinvesting for further growth

A new Yovanka Loria headquarters is under construction. The building will accommodate a salon and an education and wellness centre. Yovanksa is also expanding her product line to include new YL Micro Tied Wefts™️ and a luxury hair care line that will be released later in 2022.

“We plan to expand our education online so that we can scale and reach more stylists who are not able to travel,” Yovanka says. “Our long-term goal is to offer continued education worldwide, sharing much more than just hair extensions and offering business workshops, team management, marketing, personal branding, and mind-and-body workshops that will holistically connect an essential missing piece of the puzzle.”

Yovanka says her global vision has now grown beyond hair extensions, and she is passionate about sharing her knowledge. “I want to help empower other business owners to achieve what we have,” Yovanka enthuses. “Teaching them about business growth, culture, energy, and self-growth – as I believe these are the most important tools to growing a business.”

This article first appeared in issue 37 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine

To read the original article go to – https://insidesmallbusiness.com.au/management/growth/winning-by-extension

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