With International Women’s Day happening this week (March 8th), we thought it was time to shine the spotlight on some of our favourite beauty entrepreneurs. And who better to start off with than the brains behind one of this year’s most exciting new bellabox beauty launches, haircare brand Neon & Co? Launching exclusively in our online store this month, Neon & Co is the beautiful baby of legendary local Melbourne hairdresser, Debbie Pereira. And boy are we excited to have the brand on board!
With over 30 years in the hair game – working as a colourist, cutter, and super stylist – Deb launched her first salon in Richmond in the early ‘90s and opened three more salons across Melbourne before tapping into the zeitgeist to launch a dedicated blow dry bar in salubrious South Yarra. Coming across the popular blow dry-only salon concept through her travels in the US, Deb thought the idea would be just as popular Down Under, and put her gut feeling to the test, launching The Poodle Blow Dry Bar in 2013.
Despite The Poodle’s immediate success, Deb missed the other aspects of hairdressing, and returned to her roots (sorry) in late 2015, rebranding the salon as Neon & Co and relaunching as a full-service salon. Simultaneously, she soft launched her brand new product range, also under the Neon & Co brand. The aim of the range? To help you nail the best blow dry in town, natch.
“Neon & Co was developed out of the frustration of not finding a product that could deliver the premium results I felt clients deserve from spending $50 on a blow dry once a week. Neon & Co is designed to give more volume, prolong the life of the blow dry, repair, hydrate and reduce the blow drying time by half for time-poor women. I want clients to get more bang for their buck!” says Debbie.
That’s right, bellas, the products promise to cut drying time in half!
With sleek and chic packaging that’s super Insta-friendly, the products – currently a Blow Dry Shampoo, Blow Dry Conditioner, Spritz Volumizer, Oil Treatment (which we’re sampling this month!), Anti Frizz Fighter and Ampoule Hair Shot – are sulphate- and paraben-free, never tested on animals, and are made exclusively in Melbourne.
Additionally, “all of our products contain natural oils such as Almond, Macadamia, Kakadu plum, grape seed and many more,” says Deb. “These oils are high in vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants and provide many benefits for the hair.”
Deb is the kind of person who realises it takes a village, and insists on surrounding herself with talented people who share her passion and vision. The whole product development process has been very collaborative, she says. “We closely work with our staff and clients to get the right balance. Philip Reed from Ozcare Australia is our leading team Chemist for developing and sourcing ingredients around the world. Our ingredients are hard to find in Australia as we use the latest technology and highest quality ingredients from around the world in the range.
“We can wait up to six months for some ingredients because we are not a ‘Me Too’ Brand. We ask our customers what they would like from their hair care range and go about making it.”
But it wasn’t an overnight process, even for an industry expert like Deb. It took over a year to get the formula for the launch products right. Like most entrepreneurs, she’s a perfectionist.
Neon & Co is currently sold through the salon, and (excitingly!) will be stocked in the bellabox online store from this month.
So what’s next from this beauty dynamo (cos you can be sure she won’t be resting on her laurels anytime soon!)?
“We’re continuing to develop new products and have a New Pet Care Range coming out soon. I want to raise awareness for the Animal Law Society. All the profits from the Pet Care range will go towards the Animal Law Society to help animals have more rights. The Pet range has three products including Wet Shampoo, Dry Shampoo and an Oil treatment for everyday use.” Naw.
An animal lover, Deb takes her dog Thaddeus for early morning walks and visits the gym nearly every day. It’s all part of her efforts to maintain that crucial work-life balance, along with spending time with the people that love and ground her, like partner Paul and daughter Angelika.
As for making it in the beauty service industry, Deb has reams of valuable advice, but this is definitely my favourite nugget: “Focus on the donut, not the hole. Too many people can’t see the big picture and give up when they run into obstacles.”
With a booming business, a new product line, and a passion for innovation, it’s pretty clear Debbie Pereira is not one of these people.