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Attend the ISBN Conference to get the inside edge

JCPenney Salon Vice President Rachel Jud says she was so determined to attend ISBN’s annual Conference early in her career, she basically talked her way in, and has been participating ever since. Find out what happened next, and why access is such an important, valuable and natural part of the ISBN experience.

Jud was on the supplier side of the salon business, working as an account executive with CosmoProf’s Direct Beauty Express, when she felt compelled to find a way to attend her first ISBN Conference in 2009.

Jud felt instinctively that great things would occur—for her business and her personal career—if she could just get into the room where ISBN happens and start connecting directly with the top executives leading multi-unit businesses.

Jud convinced her boss at the time, April McCoy, that she should work the DBE booth so McCoy and other DBE managers would be free to meet and spend more time with the ISBN members. Once she was in, Jud says she kept her ears and eyes open, and took advantage of every break, meal and session to learn, absorb and network.

Little did Jud know that 10 years later, she would be:

  • vice president and divisional merchandising director of salons for JCPenney
  • on stage at ISBN’s 2019 Conference sharing her #iBelong recruitment campaign in a Big Ideas presentation and breakout
  • representing ISBN as a board member
  • counting past ISBN Presidents Gordon Logan of Sport Clips and Rhoda Olsen of Great Clips as genuine, treasured mentors

“After that first ISBN in 2009, I was hooked,” Jud recalls. “It was obvious to me even at that early stage that there was so much to learn from this ISBN crowd. I was inspired by being around so many great business stories and professional journeys. It gave me a view of the salon industry I would not have had without ISBN.”

Jud’s own professional journey moved from working for Direct Beauty Express and calling on multi-unit salons, to working in marketing for CosmoProf, where she again jumped at the chance to attend ISBN, represent her company, learn and share.

“I wanted to maintain those valuable ISBN connections with all the industry leaders who come together at Conference,” she explains. “They really taught me so much that helped get me to that next steps in my career,” and on to the salon side with JCPenney.

Go and Grow

Jud encourages any multi-unit salon brand—from 3 locations to 200 to 1,000+ – to get involved with ISBN, but says suppliers, brands, marketers and anyone interested in growing their business and acumen should also do whatever they can to attend ISBN’s annual Conference.

“There’s the obvious benefit of having the luxury of expanded time and contact with best customers and potential accounts, but also the less obvious benefit of being in a unique setting where these leaders can let down their guard and share openly,” Jud says. “It’s eye opening for a brand partner or marketer to hear what is really important to top customers or prospects in a different context.”

When you meet on regular turf, you are always talking about your one little niche, pitching your brand features and benefits, Jud recalls. “Going to ISBN Conference and hearing the different presenters really expanded my universe and understanding of the big problems and opportunities in this industry. Before connecting with ISBN, I was not aware of the regulatory or legislative concerns, for instance, or the recruiting issues that continue to be such a critical part of the business. ISBN accelerates your industry learning curve.”

The Heart of the Beauty Business

Another thing Jud finds refreshing and inspiring about ISBN is that “all the people who are at Conference and involved in the association love this industry, and not just because it feeds their families.”

“The ISBN community loves our stylists and barbers,” Jud believes. “We want to see them grow, build their lives and serve their clients. There is something at the heart of our business that’s not about status or transactions, but about people. That’s why I love the ISBN Conference event. It aligns with the way that I look at the professional beauty industry and this incredible opportunity and responsibility we have to impact stylists who then go out and impact more lives.”

Jud’s own life mantra is to “show up and believe good things will happen,” and says it evolved from attending her first ISBN events.

She offers this advice to anyone attending the 2020 ISBN Conference, “Shaping Your Modern Tribe,” at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego: “Show up ready to connect. Don’t be afraid to go up to people—to me—and start a conversation. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the openness.”


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