It’s the salon with the crazy name…Horse Meat Disco Salon…which is actually owner Mikey Forster’s favourite London DJ as well as the brand of his beautiful boutique salon in Stones Corner. Since entering the Brisbane hair scene in 2012 and growing organically over the past seven years, today the Disco team sits at 12 and is a creative collective of passionate and talented stylists who completely love what they do.

As a new generation young salon owner, Mikey had a strong vision for what he wanted to present to the marketplace when it came to launching his own brand. A business that was cool and edgy, but never pompous or elitist. A welcoming hub for individuals seeking quality yet attainable hair. A playground to showcase creative aptitude upon a foundation of exceptional education and technical skills. A fun, family-like culture with outstanding client service. A salon where hairdressers loved to work and grow. A destination to BE, not to be seen.

Sticking true to his vision, the Disco (as it is affectionately known) has a sterling reputation amongst industry and clients alike. Education plays an important role, with Mikey holding the role as an Australian Colour Ambassador for Wella Professionals in Australia and New Zealand and also being one of the youngest members of Wella’s exclusive Colour Club amongst some of the industry’s finest hairdressers. His own professional development and that of his team is paramount in keeping themselves ahead of the game.

“Education is how we all grow as professionals,” Mikey tells. “I pay for all of my team’s education and I’m happy to do so, as I know it’s progressing them in their careers, plus our clients and team members are benefiting from their knowledge as well. This year I flew one of my team members to the Sassoon Academy in LA and I’ve put another stylist through the DCI Mentor Program. I’m actually attending the Not Another Academy program at MIG later this year too. These are just a few of the educational platforms we invest in.”

Mikey takes a holistic approach to education to keep his team happy and motivated. “We recently just had a wellness day at the salon that involved Dario Cotroneo coming to do a presentation on hair psychology and consultations, then we went to Total Fusion at Newstead and did a beautiful VinYin style yoga class. It’s important to look after ourselves and our minds, so doing something like this I find very helpful for the whole team. It also creates a great team environment.”

Horse Meat Disco Salon has been working with MIG Training since February 2017. The salon has signed off three apprentices and currently has two more enrolled at the college. “We left our previous RTO as the communication we had with them was zero and the content the apprentices were getting taught we felt was dated,” Mikey says. “Since changing to MIG our training is on track and we work closely to ensure that together, we are helping our apprentices as best as possible.”

MIG’s relationship with its salon clients is very much a partnership. Bespoke education programs are created to suit the apprentice as well as the salon schedule and can be a mix of college and in-salon training depending on each business’s requirements.

“My directors and I have recently created a full training schedule from start to finish for our junior stylists,” explains Mikey. “We work very closely alongside MIG to ensure we are both on the same page with training and how the apprentices are progressing. For example, we will work on solid form for approximately three weeks in in-salon training, then once deemed competent, we move them on to the next stage. If they are stars and they are competent quicker, then we progress them faster. We don’t hold anyone back.”

When it comes to looking for apprentices, Mikey says he’d choose personality over skill every time. “Finding an apprentice at the moment is the hardest it’s been for me since I opened the doors seven years ago. I’m looking for someone with an outstanding personality, and that can be tough. It’s our job to make you an amazing hairdresser, but I can’t give you a better personality or make you fit in with the team more smoothly. I have two apprentices at the moment and both of them are mature age. It costs me more, but what they bring to the salon is life experience, knowledge on how to work hard and common sense.”

So what advice would Mikey have for salons to optimise their relationship and outcomes with their chosen apprenticeship provider?

“Flexibility and communication! What we love about MIG is that we were able to take training into our own hands and do it (mostly) ourselves under their guidance. Every Tuesday evening we have in salon training nights for all of our juniors. We work closely with MIG and reference our training plan so that we are working on the same things around the same time. Once a month or so, Nicole from MIG will come to the salon and assess the team on what they have been working on. We love the way this works for the salon and couldn’t think of a better way to be training or with a better RTO!”

Mikey and his long term team member Darby hosted an up-close-and-personal colour workshop called ‘Creating a Disco Queen’ in October, showcasing four signature Disco colour techniques to nine enthusiastic attendees. They had a look’n’learn session in the morning and a hands-on session in the afternoon, where the duo helped the students to create their own Signature Disco looks on their models. According to Mikey, the feedback was incredibly positive…which no doubt means there’ll be more Disco education on the cards in 2020.

And why not? We all need a little more Disco in our lives, don’t you agree?