Advice well taken
Krystle Tokunai of Tokunai Hair Spa
Words by Janie Barton
Taking the advice from one of her high school teachers led Krystle Tokunai on the path towards an award-winning career.
The founder of Tokunai Hair Spa, who has been in the hairdressing industry for 21 years, won the distinguished Cairns Women’s Business Club’s 2022 Business Woman of the Year award.
Born in PNG, Krystle went to boarding school in Toowoomba after which she studied hairdressing.
“I really didn’t know what I was going to do career wise at that time,” she said. “One of my teachers at school told me I should try hairdressing, so I enrolled in a school in Brisbane.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
She moved to Cairns following her schooling in Brisbane in 2001 and began working in the industry. After seven years, she opened her own salon.
“That was a very impulsive decision,” she said. “I walked out of my other job and had no idea what I was going to do. My husband suggested I went out on my own, so I did.”
Krystle’s core business philosophies are honest, simple and highly successful.
“My philosophy is to have fun and build a team so strong they don’t know who the boss is,” she said. “Treating staff like family is probably one of the biggest things. It’s funny because I’ve done a lot of leadership programs, and they tell you not to get close to your staff. From day one, I went against that rule!”
Her authentic concern for others is also reflective in the way she treats her clients.
“Our clients aren’t just clients to us,” she said. “We’re interested in what they do outside of being a client, and I think that’s what brings us together like one big family.
“We are our clients’ personal cheerleaders, cheering them on to motivate them to create the life they want, whether it be through hair to gain confidence in themselves, to pump them up for that interview or just to have an escape from their busy schedules.”
As the hairdressing industry is constantly evolving and changing, Krystle ensures she and her team are constantly training and upskilling.
“We do in-salon training within our own team and also do external training, and our apprentices go to college as well,” she said. “Our senior team attend Brisbane Fashion week and Melbourne Fashion week each year.
“We also hold the only fashion event in Cairns every year at the salon, called #BecauseFashion. We can hold approximately 120 people, and the tickets usually sell out in a couple of days.”
While Krystle is quick to credit her team and clients with her success, she also thanks her husband, sister and sister-in-law in helping her take care of her two young school-age children.
“It takes a village,” she said. “We also have friends who help out and even sometimes my staff will help. I’m very lucky.”