Interview: Gina Conway
I’m thrilled that my first interviewee on I Carried a Watermelon is the fabulous fellow-American Gina Conway (pictured above). Gina owns four successful Aveda salons across London, including one in Wimbledon – where I am a regular attendee of pre-natal yoga at her salon and I’ve been known to have a pregnancy massage or two. Aside from being a successful business woman, Gina is also a mother-of-three and full of great advice. So without further adieu…
How did you start Gina Conway Aveda salons?
On a wing and a prayer. Coming from America I knew no hairdressers or clients, but I knew I had a lot to offer the London market with my “American-style customer service” and California sunshine attitude. Ten years ago when I began, having signed the lease on 9/11, the market was shaky, but I remember that getting a smile in a shop was even more unpredictable. So I was determined to give the best service and team spirit and education to the industry as possible.
You recently became a mother for the third time. How have you handled raising your children and balancing your career?
I am very careful about who I hire and they have to carry that Gina Conway passion and attitude for success. With the right people in place, I have been able to have a family and balance the two. It is not easy and I work all hours. But I love what I do so much and am so challenged by it that I can’t wait to go to work, and love my family so much that I can’t wait to come home. That is what I call a work-life balance.
What’s your advice for mums who own their own business?
Get a good nanny. And make sure your husband/partner is a good cook! And last but not least, I couldn’t live without my Mac laptop. It goes everywhere with me. Just fits into my baby bag!
Who’s easier to raise: boys or girls?
In my experience, girls. I have two angel girls and one devil boy. My boy challenges me as he has so much curiosity and is always getting into things he shouldn’t. He is a delicious delight and I am lucky to have him, but easy, he is not.
I do pre-natal yoga at your salon in Wimbledon and have really loved it. What other treatments or exercise do you recommend for pregnant women?
Go on your holidays now!! Eat well and get lots of rest. It may be the last chance you have. Yoga when you can especially in late pregnancy. It gives you strength, stamina, wellness and will help you cope with the birth process in a calm way. Bringing in a new baby to this world should start with a relaxed well-balanced mommy to have a well-balanced calm baby.
What’s your best advice for getting back in shape after pregnancy?
I have had 3 cesarean sections. I have had to wait for 6 months to do any exercise, but I go to our mommy and baby yoga classes in Wimbledon. This is so great and a very special time with me and my baby and a great way to meet other mums locally. This is my top tip. Otherwise running after the kids and running four businesses keeps me pretty fit.
I’ve heard conflicting advice about getting salon treatments done during pregnancy. For example, is it all right for women to get their hair coloured while pregnant?
We use only Aveda Colour, which is 97% naturally derived and if that is not natural enough, the semi permanent Aveda Colour is 99% naturally derived. The results are stunning as well as it keeps your hair shaft from excessive damage by infusing oils to strengthen hair during processing. A must have at any stage of your pregnancy or after. There is no conclusive proof that hair Colour is dangerous during pregnancy. If you are concerned, go for foiling techniques as they keep the Colour off the scalp.
As a fellow American living in the UK, tell us what you love about Britain.
I love the light summer evenings!! I love all the distinct villages in London and their unique characters. I adore the fashion industry and range of styles available if you know where to look. I try to shop ethically where possible. I love that you can walk everywhere and the public transportation is pretty good, unless you are commuting on a hot rainy day in summer at 5pm. Then, not so much.
And anything you don’t love…
I don’t love that people are so afraid to look at each other and smile. I go out of my way to engage with others and try to get a smile out of them. When I do, this makes my day.
What’s your top advice for new mums?
They grow so fast!! Take lots of pictures [At Julia Boggio Studios - ed.] because life is moving so much faster now and with pregnancy brain, you forget most of life’s rich moments.
Thank you, Gina, for your honest words!