11 December 2023

From the White House to the Salon!

L’Oréal USA’s New Chief Communications Officer brings her Washington experience to L’Oréal’s Professional Products Division!

L’Oréal USA is a company that serves millions of women, and not coincidentally, many of the top spots in the company are held by powerful female leaders. Through their work with the L’Oréal Professional Products Division, these women recognize stylists’ abilities to change lives and the communities they serve, and are committed to furthering their efforts and activities.

One of the newest members of the L’Oréal leadership team is L’Oréal USA Chief Communications Officer Kristina Schake. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Schake was the co-founder and principal of Griffin|Schake, a California-based public affairs and strategic communications firm that specialized in bringing about social change through policy, legislative, social marketing and media initiatives. After many years of impressive accomplishments, Schake’s work came to the attention of the federal government, and she received a call from the White House. The result?  She moved to Washington to serve as Communications Director for First Lady Michelle Obama. Two years later, L’Oréal convinced her to enter the corporate world and move to New York.

Schake is now committed  to communicating the corporate story and raising the profile of L’Oréal in the United States. “First, I don’t think that many people realize that L’Oréal is such a large employer in this country”, she says. “We want to get the word out that nearly 10,000 Americans work for the company, nationally and in stores and plants in individual communities. The company truly makes an incredible contribution.”

Lessons for Stylists from the White House:

Among the professional products brands that Schake will partner with are Matrix, Redken and Pureology, L’Oréal Professionnel, Essie, Kérastase and Shu Uemura and Salon Centric and she readily admits that she has a keen interest in and affinity for hairdressers. Like her, she explains, they are businessmen and women who must present themselves professionally, communicate well and conduct their relationships with empathy and compassion.

And not surprisingly, she believes that many of the takeaways from her stint at the White House can be applied to salon professionals:

1. We’re all different. And we’re all the same. “Traveling with the First Lady, I had a chance to see many communities in the nation”, Schake comments, “and I was struck by how much we all have in common as Americans”. The lesson? Whether you’re a stylist in a small town in Iowa or a big city in New York or Texas, your clients share similar hopes, dreams and values.

2. Listen more than you speak. Working with Mrs. Obama, Schake observed first-hand the importance of listening –truly listening– to people. “They really want to tell you their stories, to connect with you”, she notes. “With clients, if you listen you’ll understand what they care about and what they value and you’ll be able to connect with them in an authentic way. I believe that’s why people have such strong emotional connections to their stylists, she adds. “They truly care and they help people to be their very best selves.”

3. When choosing a cause, choose one that matters to you. Stylists, by nature, are giving individuals and always willing to lend a hand. To be most effective with your philanthropic efforts, Schake advises, choose a cause that you really care about. What is your passion, what brings you joy? “Focus on that”, she suggests. “If what you’re doing for your community is a reflection of your own values and passions, you’ll be so much more effective.”  Hairdressers Against AIDS, a Global L’Oréal Professional Products Division Program is one way hairdressers can get involved to support not only the industry, but also the communities they serve. (For more information go to www.hairdressersagainstaids.com)

4. Be true to you. Watching Mrs. Obama, says Schake, taught her how important it is to remain true to oneself. “She is a very strong woman who knows who she is”, Schake observes. “It was incredibly powerful to watch someone be so authentic. She is genuinely warm and concerned about people.  She makes a huge impact on people. She likes to meet them, she really cares and she gets energy from her interactions.”

5. Never be afraid to fail. Schake has amassed some impressive accomplishments, but she firmly believes that failure is underrated. “You really have to keep trying new things”, she asserts. “Give them a chance, even if you’re not sure you’ll master them. Remember, when things go well you don’t stop to think. When things fail, you really analyze and learn from the experience. Sometimes we think failure will define them so they aren’t willing to experiment. But you have to have confidence. If you fail, you just pick yourself up and keep going!”

Schake herself has jumped into the L’Oréal world with enthusiasm. “I’m really looking forward to learning more about the amazing hairdressers who serve clients each and every day, the salon business and the professional products that help women look beautiful all year long”, she asserts.  

Pat Parenty, President, L’Oréal USA Professional Products Division, added, “I couldn’t be more thrilled to have Kristina as a Communication’s partner.  She is committed to assisting us in our vision ‘To transform the professional beauty industry to be the destination of choice for everyone’s beauty needs and in doing so, make the world a more beautiful place one salon at a time.”

For more information, visit www.LorealUSA.com


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