DevaCurl keeps communication tangle-free with Slack

How the wildly popular brand for curly-haired people broke loose from the inbox

Author: Lauren JohnsonSeptember 24th, 2019

Since opening in 1994, DevaCurl has grown from a single salon in New York City to a household brand name for curly-haired individuals. Along the way, the company has won a widespread fan base, including singer Lizzo and actress Emmy Rossum.

In addition to running two salons, DevaCurl makes products for curls of all types, from small spirals to big, bodacious waves. Of course, cornering the curly-hair market doesn’t come without challenges. When it comes to smoothing out communication and boosting teamwork, Slack has outpaced the email inbox as the top tool in DevaCurl’s kit.

“Communication is at the heart of what we do, starting with the community of people who want and need our products,” says DevaCurl CEO Robert Schaeffler. “Internally, it’s extremely important to be fast, quick and nimble when we communicate.”

Schaeffler and his colleagues recently shared how DevaCurl uses Slack to connect its distributed workforce, support company culture and boost creativity, while reducing the hours team members log in their inboxes.

“It’s a much more efficient way to communicate with our on-site managers as well as have the day-to-day communication with employees I may not see in passing. It’s taken the place of email for me entirely.”

Rebecca MatthewsDirector of salon operations, DivaCurl

Slack improves communication across distributed teams

Out of 200 DevaCurl employees, 125 of them are based in the company’s salons. That means over half of its workers are on their feet, interacting with customers, rather than in front of a computer screen. Slack channels—virtual spaces where teams can share messages, tools and files—offer a speedy way to connect these always-on-the-go employees.

“The salon is a completely different space with mostly creative folks who are not sitting in front of a laptop. All they have is their phone,” Schaeffler explains. “With Slack, we were finally able to connect people in an office, people that are remote and people that are on their feet all day long in a salon environment.”

Rebecca Matthews, the director of salon operations, adds that Slack channels have helped DevaCurl connect its distributed workforce by offering opportunities to:

  • Showcase stylists’ work
  • Keep salon staff up to date with announcements from headquarters
  • Connect employees and teams that don’t interact on a day-to-day basis
  • Quickly debrief and problem-solve when a meeting or email isn’t required

For Matthews, Slack has replaced email as the go-to tool for connecting with managers and staff.

“It’s a much more efficient way to communicate with our on-site managers as well as have the day-to-day communication with employees I may not see in passing,” she says. “It’s taken the place of email for me entirely.”

How Slack supports company culture and the DevaCurl community

DevaCurl strives to be more than a brand and a product: The company aims to build community among people with wavy, curly and super curly hair. Schaeffler and Matthews believe that building a strong customer community begins with building a strong team culture. Slack channels provide a platform to nurture this internal community.

“We already have an amazing culture to start with,” Matthews says. “Slack has given that culture a platform to evolve. People share professional communication, but Slack also enables us to have fun with each other.”

Matthews says Slack’s interface makes professional communication feel more conversational and organic. In turn, she’s seen people express themselves naturally in channels.

Schaeffler agrees. “Email is a ping-pong game,” he says. “I have an issue, I drop it in your inbox, you played it back. With Slack … you have to resolve the issue in a continuous flow.”

Slack channels have directly helped DevaCurl strengthen its customer community too. The team has a channel for monitoring and responding to conversations occurring across its social media accounts. DevaCurl uses channels to make decisions about anything from responding to questions on Twitter to developing new products.

“The curly-hair community’s extremely involved and emotional about their hair journey,” Schaeffler says. “The cool part about Slack is that it mirrors that emotional and creative conversation.”

DevaCurl nurtures creativity with Slack

#Inspiration is one of DevaCurl’s top channels. Employees use this channel to capture styles they see in magazines, at trade shows and out in the streets. In addition to sparking creativity, teammates use #inspiration to discuss how DevaCurl stylists can play with current trends and add their own spin.

No matter where they’re located, members of the DevaCurl community can come together in Slack channels to share their expertise. As a result, the organization has empowered employees by helping them develop a feeling of community that not only encourages creativity, but also instills a sense of pride.

“Working here and having curly hair means so much to me,” Matthews says. “I spent a great deal of my career in the beauty industry where it’s not socially or professionally acceptable to wear your hair in its natural state. It’s been pretty incredible to go on this journey and re-identify with what I have.”

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