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Style and Substance Leads to Business Success

Style and Substance Leads to Business Success

“From a young age I was always going to be a hairdresser,” says Dorien Van Den Berg, owner and Senior Stylist at JOMP Hair Design. “What I didn’t realise was that my real passion was going to be for business.”

If you’re fortunate enough to spend time with Dorien Van Den Berg you quickly understand why JOMP Hair Design was so successful at the 2014 Electra Kapiti Horowhenua Business Awards.

In October last year the boutique salon based at Paraparaumu Beach, that is fast gaining a reputation as one of the best in the Wellington region, scooped both the Small Business Excellence and Employer of Choice Awards at the hugely popular Awards dinner.

This success may have come quickly for the 27 year old Van Den Berg, but it has been well earned. Since buying the business in 2011, the young entrepreneur has been on a quest to create a salon that is “at least” the equal of the very best salons in Wellington. “Actually, we’re going to better,” she smiles.

Hairdressing, music, hard work and business have been in Dorien’s blood since she was young.

“I’ve always had a creative streak,” she explains. “I starting playing the violin at 6 and was in the NZ Youth Symphony Orchestra by the age of 14. It was music that taught me about discipline, focus and hard work. You can’t get better without it.”

“At the same time I was fascinated with hairdressing and started styling the other kids’ hair at school.”

Dorien soon worked out that she could make extra money by either braiding kids’ hair at school or busking on the street. “From there I started playing in quartets at weddings and performing at concerts. I actually bought my own horse by the time I was 9, and a second horse when I was 13.”

Despite her musical talent, Dorien began to realise that hair styling was her real passion. “I love interacting with people and learning about their lives,” she says. “And styling their hair is a bonus because I get to be creative and design their own individual ’look’ - making them feel and look good gives me ultimate job satisfaction.”

So Dorien left school just before her 16th birthday and began a hairdressing course at Whitirea, working in a salon and holding down an extra three part-time jobs while she studied.

She was excited when she secured an apprenticeship at Reds Hair in Pukerua Bay, a salon well known and recognised for their training. She spent five years there, achieving her first goal of becoming a Senior Stylist. But by that stage Dorien knew she wanted to be more than that. “I wanted to move into management,” she says. “Business fascinated me – it was all about cold hard facts, policies and process. Unfortunately there were a number of Senior Stylists ahead of me at Reds so I made the decision to move to a smaller salon.”

Moving to the smaller team at JOMP Hair Design at Paraparaumu Beach, Dorien didn’t realise that her dream was much closer than she expected. In less than a year the original owner had sold the business to her.

“It was terrifying but exciting,” she explains. “I could see the potential the business had and I had a vision of where I wanted to take it, but I knew I needed to learn a lot to get there.”

Ten months later she entered the business in the Electra Kapiti Horowhenua Business Awards. “It wasn’t about winning, it wasn’t even about being named a Finalist,” she explains. “I was 23 and had no business background. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, but I could see the Awards were an opportunity to get some amazing feedback and advice. It was a way to seek clarification and build confidence.”

“In fact, my annual plans have always been based on the Judges’ feedback!” she laughs.

She also enrolled in an 18 month business course in Wellington, and started sneaking into business lectures at Victoria University. “I read a lot of books and watched business tutorials on Youtube too. Everything I learned I applied to my business. I learned about benchmarks, standards and values – and then I looked at how I could apply them to a salon environment.”

This commitment to continuous improvement has led to rapid recognition. “Claiming the top three places at the Regional Hairdressing Awards in 2012 was huge for JOMP,” says Dorien. “It established our reputation and gave us fantastic profile.” The following year JOMP was named Boutique Salon of the Year at the 2013 New Zealand Association of Registered Hairdressers Awards. “To achieve this milestone in just 2 ½ years was amazing,” she says.

Of course, the recognition continued in 2014 with double success at the Business Awards. “Dorien has an amazing passion for business,” explains Business Kapiti Horowhenua Chairman, Mark Ternent. “She is constantly evaluating the way she does things and looking to make them better. She has applied all that energy and focus to a business, and voila – it’s absolutely no surprise JOMP was a multiple Award winner last year.”

So what advice does Dorien have for a business looking at entering the Awards? “Absolutely do it. But do it for the right reasons. It would be easy to hide things that aren’t right in your business to make yourself look good, but you’d only be cheating yourself. Take the opportunity and answer every question truthfully. Tear your business apart, question everything you do and use the process to make improvements.”

“Owning a business can be a lonely thing at times,” she says. “There are very few people you can have a full and frank discussion with about your business. That’s the best thing about the Awards - it gives you access to people who understand how a good business is run and can offer you amazing advice. And because the Awards are confidential you can trust them with your most intimate business information.”

“The Awards process gives you a huge reality check. You’ll learn so much about both yourself and your business. And if you don’t like the things you find, fix them!”

Dorien Van Den Berg will be the guest speaker at the free information evenings to launch the 2015 Electra Kapiti Horowhenua Business Awards on 24 March in Levin and 31 March in Paraparaumu. Taking place from 5.30-7.30pm, visit for more information and to register your attendance.


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