SPOTLIGHT– A Look Inside PYURE
By Karen Petrillo with contributions from Erica Greskoviak
The two founders of PYURE, Elan Levy and Luca Boccia, are Family Men, Business Men, Coaches, Artists, and Entertainers. When encountering these men and their teams, it becomes clear that they have “that special something.” The drive and enthusiasm of Luca and Elan live in their team as well. Their “PYURE” intent and care for their teams and families are a big part of their success.
How did two men from different parts of the world end up partners in the world of beauty?
Elan reflected on his direction early in life, and he smiled as he remembered, “I had a friend of the family who had a salon living in Israel when I was 14 or 15 years old. He taught me how to shampoo. I just had a really great time and fell in love with it, so I knew from then on that was going to be my pursuit.”
When Luca was asked when he knew this was the business for him, he lit up and said, “I was always in the business because aunts, uncles, and cousins were all hairdressers up in New York. I was always around it. When I was a little kid I applied my mother's hair color. I was always around it and never thinking I was going to do anything else. I’ll tell you a quick story. I was an assistant at a salon in New York right…first job, snowstorm, and couldn’t get out of my driveway. The boss said, ‘Take a taxi!’, and I said ‘No, there’s a snowstorm. I can’t get out to work.’ He said, ‘Get out to work, take a taxi, or you’re fired!’ So, I take a taxi. I’m with my friend, complaining the whole way out there. ‘I can’t believe they’re making us come in on a snow day. Like no one is going to be coming in to get a haircut today. This is ridiculous!’ As we pulled up to the shopping center, which was not plowed yet, the driver couldn’t even take us maybe 200 feet away from the front door, watching guests schlep through the snow with their fur coats to get their hair done. That day I remember turning to my friend and saying, ‘I think we chose a good business. I don’t think we’re ever going to starve if people are coming out today to get their haircuts.’ That’s when I knew this industry was for me.”
Little did Elan and Luca know that their similar, but different, paths would lead these two artistic men to a beautiful partnership. There would be a point in time where they knew they would be a more powerful and impactful force in the world of beauty working together as a team, rather than going on this artistic journey separately.
For Luca and Elan, creating a chain reaction of care comes easily. They both have an inspiring love for their teams and the ability and desire to make a difference with every team member.
They explained that the emphasis they place on “U” in the middle of PYURE was no accident. They specifically chose to emphasize the “U” in a different color, Luca clarified, “We wanted something organic and we started with the question: ‘What is this all about?’ It was about YOU…you the guest, you the employee, you the leader, you the educator, so ‘U’ was an important part of PYURE.”
Elan explained, "We came together with the objective of creating a place where people could come work, learn, and prosper with all the knowledge we already had to share with them. We created PYURE based on what we wanted to do differently in our salons. We wanted a different kind of business.”
Luca confirmed and added, “Could I take what took me 15 years and give them that in 3? That's what we have kind of accomplished…Things that took us decades to learn, we’re teaching and driving into their everyday world, and those who follow it end up really succeeding quite rapidly.”
Most who know Elan and Luca would say they are the perfectly matched business partners. We wondered what each of them thought about the others’ differences and how those differences are beneficial.
Luca responded, “We have two different kinds of tempers. I’m a little bit more of a ‘reactor’ and he’s a bit more of a ‘5-second rule’. So, I think that’s good because when you give it that time to breathe, you may see it a little bit differently five minutes from now. I think when he comes back, he has a really amazing, eloquent way of putting it out there…For 12 years now when he’s talking, I have wondered, ‘What makes him go to that place?’ because I didn’t go to that place. I’m over here with whatever crazy way I’m handling it.”
Laughingly Elan chimes in, “It’s funny that he said that because one of the things I see about Luca is that …you know, I’ll just get right to the point and that’s it. But Luca is a great storyteller! If he wants you to get from Point A to Point B, he’ll take you on a journey, which is what is really engaging. He can craft your emotions to go to different places, and it is very engaging. I think that contributes to much of the success we have when we do the meetings. I think that he communicates the message well, which teaches them better. I think there’s a great power to that.”
Elan expanded, “I think the glue between us in business relationship is that we are very like-minded. We want the same things. We have the same visions. We get to focus on the real challenges. You know, and we are not each other’s challenge.”
And then Luca the “storyteller” replied, “It’s like marriage…He’s a little bit more giving than I am. I’m a little bit more stubborn. Cause that’s just part of my DNA. I always trust it but it’s like…I want what I want, when I want it. Where he tends to let me have my way. So that helps, you know.”
Elan added, “That part of it is easy. We get to focus on the daily challenges or the future challenges, and that’s where we put our energy. Sometimes when we don’t agree on something I’ll just say fine we’ll go with your idea, or we’ll just go with that.”
It truly is like watching a perfectly choreographed show as these two leaders interact.
Business partnerships are not always easy, but these two gentlemen are simply great at it! What’s the old saying? Behind every great man there is an even greater woman…or something like that (LOL). That saying may not be politically correct or accurate, but these men understand and appreciate the importance of a supportive spouse. Both Luca and Elan emphasized how grateful they are to have such awesome partners in their lives, and they weren’t referring to each other at this point. They were referring to their supportive wives, Rana and Christine. The dedication and commitment of their partners has been paramount in the ability of Luca and Elan to be able to grow their businesses, and it certainly has not gone unnoticed by either of them. It was a breath of fresh air to hear them speak of the support and dedication from their partners, which has ultimately led to a beautiful work-life balance.
Elan’s admiration, respect, and love for his wife, Rana, were clear as he spoke of her. He shared, “She was just a great support throughout the whole journey. There were hours spent on opening salons and long days; long weeks. I believe that if you don’t have the support with whomever you’re at home with, then it’s just that much harder. Because the work is hard. So, when you have somebody who says, ‘Go on do what you have to do. I got this covered. I got the kids,’ it’s is easier. She allowed me to just really focus on what I needed to do and not have the guilt that I was spending too much time with it.”
Luca was no different as he shared his amazement and love for his wife, and what she has done for him and their family. “For me, I couldn't get to where I got without the wife that I have. I mean it takes a unit to try to maintain while you're trying to build. What does that mean? It means I have three kids, and someone was at home while I was trying to grow a business. You have to have that strength there; keeping the family together. I incorporate my family into the business and thank God!"
A Different Kind of Business
For Luca and Elan, “Creating a Chain Reaction of Care” does not stop at home. They both have an inspiring love for their teams and the ability and desire to make a difference with every team member. They shared with us, “Our Mission at PYURE is to create an environment, which will nurture the talent of our team and support their desire to grow. As a team we have created PYURE, where the genuine well-being of our guests and the quality of our services is our primary mission.”
Elan noted, "We created PYURE based on what we wanted to do differently in our salons. We wanted a different kind of business.”
Luca added, “We came together with the objective of creating a place where people could come work, learn, and prosper with all the knowledge we already had to share with them. Could I take what took me 15 years and give them that in 3? That's what we have kind of accomplished.”
These two extraordinary entrepreneurs opened 3 salons in their first 2 years of establishing PYURE, then spent many years getting them tight and right.
Ten years after the opening of the third salon, the Dynamic Duo has brought in a new partner in a fourth location in Aventura that is opening soon. Luca Boccia, Jr., Luca’s son, who has been paving his way through PYURE over the years, has joined in as a partner of this location.
When asked how he felt about advancing to a new level with the company and the partnership with the opening of the Aventura location, Luca Jr. said, “Joining this partnership with my father and Elan has been so amazing just because I have grown up in this industry. It’s all I know. It’s what I love. It was my first job, and I got my driver’s license and my job at PYURE on the same day. I just fell in love with it right away even though I’m not doing hair behind the chair. I love just being involved in the process of watching people grow and seeing them achieving certain milestones in their life. Being part of this has just filled my emotional bank in a way that I didn’t think was possible. Joining into the ownership piece, and not just the management, really affirms what I’m doing and knowing that I’m doing it correctly. It really just gives me a sense of verification that what I’m doing is correct, and that I’m headed down the right path.”
Dreams do come true!
Luca and Elan had a dream to wow the Aveda network one day at Congress in Minneapolis; to entertain their colleagues and allow their team to let their talents shine through to other artists across the globe. That dream was mentioned in the past to Tom Petrillo, and the wheels started turning. PYURE was invited to put on a hair show at the 2016 Dare to Dream event hosted by The Salon People, and that Congress dream was announced and put out into the universe.
That stepping stone and stellar performance landed them with an invitation by Aveda to perform at Congress. Dreams do come true! In June of 2018, back by popular demand, they appeared again at the 2018 Dare to Dream event. With a tremendous amount of care, time, and energy they put on another astounding show for over 1,000 of their peers and they were one step closer to their Congress performance.
After The Salon People sent the video of the 2018 Dare to Dream PYURE show to Luca, he asked me if I could send him ALL the raw footage. He indicated that he wanted to use it for coaching, to ensure that anything that might be improved upon could be worked out before the Congress show; he didn’t want the “pretty” edited version that we had sent him. I had to laugh, because it WAS the raw footage. His team was simply that great and that prepared. That had to have been a proud moment for them!
Then came Congress and they wowed an even larger crowd of 5,000! It was a dream come true for them. Luca acknowledged, “So, all of a sudden, the jitters get a little different, but everything that we’ve trained for has brought us to this point, and it’s the same. You get out there and do it. What you know how to do and what you’ve been trained for. That’s the show business. I think for us it’s about bringing the team together, sharing, learning, mutual respect, hard work, sweat, and tears; all that takes place in creating this team to perform in front of our peers.”
The PYURE team represented our Aveda Florida Network proudly with their amazing performance, color, and styles.
Elan reflected on what was most notable to him, “Congress was amazing. It was our biggest stage and a lot of people, but for me one of the most memorable parts of it was the dinner we had with the team after the show. Everybody was just talking about what it meant to them and how it made them feel after all these years. They voiced how we’ve been working towards it for years, and how it connected them with each other, to us, and to the company and just the gratitude they had for us. When I think of Congress, that’s what I think of first. It just felt so good to do that, because you get lost in your day to day. Even though we love what we do, when you throw things like that into the mix, it just gives you the highs and the lows, which makes your career, makes your life that much more exciting!”
Elan, regarding the Congress Team, “We’ve been working towards it for years. It connected them with each other, to us, and to the company.”
This picture says it all! A picture paints a thousand words, as do the smiles on Luca and Elan’s faces. This amazing performance was a dream come true and a truly triumphant and bonding moment for their team.
No Speeches Needed
It was Luca and Elan’s choice not to speak after their performance at Dare to Dream and Congress. Luca humbly noted, “We didn’t want to hear our blah, blah, blah. Our goal when we get on stage at Congress or Dare to Dream is: how do we entertain people? We’re not there to teach you how to do a haircut. We’re there to show you just a few moments of fun. If you want to learn how to do a haircut, then you’ll come to a workshop. But to be on a stage like that, it’s really just about entertainment. We think of the music. We think of the video. We think of the costumes. We think of the hairstyles and the choreography. That’s where we put all our time and focus, but like what Elan said, it goes back to the dinner. I think that’s when we share the gratitude, the appreciation, and what everyone has put into it. If I had to say something on stage I think it would be no more than just, thank you. Thank you for all that you do.”
The biggest surprise going through this journey.
One very important point Luca wanted to convey as we probed for a deeper look into PYURE is that, “It’s not as easy as it looks.” He added, “We get complimented all the time as a company, but it takes a lot of hard work to get where they are at. It may look easy, but it is not.”
No big endeavor comes without a few surprises. For Luca, “The biggest surprise to me is I think that in most businesses the guest is the challenge, but I think that in this industry, the employee is the challenge; not in a bad way, but a challenge. The guest is very easy to satisfy… Employees are different and it’s like raising children. You have to teach them. You have to grow them. You have to remind them. You have to show them right from wrong in business. I think most people get into it thinking I can just do hair. They forget about the business part. How do I recruit people? How do I retain people? How do I build this business? I can be a great hairdresser, but I can also be starving and unable to pay my bills. The hard part is how to build the business inside this business. The hard part is getting them out of bed every morning. It’s a constant endeavor making sure they are dressed a certain way, making sure they ate their breakfast before coming into work, making sure that they perform all day, and making sure they come back tomorrow to do it all over again. Constantly managing…that is the business we’re in…we’re not in the hairdressing business.”
Elan added, “It blows my mind how hard we have to work to convince people to work towards more. We almost have to sell it. I mean, I have a perfect formula for you, where you could earn 3 times what you make now, in a very short period of time. Right? If you gave me that formula you would only have to show it to me once, and you wouldn’t see me for a long time, because I would be doing what it takes. But in salons it’s constant; we have to remind them, show them, re-remind them, and re-sell it, because people can sometimes get complacent and stop growing.”
When Luca was asked who he admires in the industry, it came down to a few leaders and super stylists. Luca explained, “I admire Tom Petrillo from The Salon People. He has taught me so much about business and how to look at things a little bit differently. I also respect the way Van Michael runs his business, so methodical and precise. It pushes me to be more accurate with things, because I could be all over the place.”
Many business owners admire peers at the same or higher level, so I was very touched at what else Luca had to say about who else he admires. He added, “I look up to people who deliver the experience we designed twelve years ago on every guest, every day. I highly admire someone who does that, because I know there are a lot of obstacles that make you not do it. An employee who comes in every day, greets the guest, delivers world-class experience, makes sure they have what they need to take home to deliver this hairstyle once they get home…to me that’s somebody I admire.”
The Salon People
When asked how they feel about The Salon People as their distributor, they made it clear there is no other distributor they would rather work with. Luca went on to say, “So as far as TSP goes, there’s so many directions we can take this conversation, but the key thing is that we’re not just a spreadsheet to them. You know…we’re people growing each other’s businesses and I like that. But where it starts is somebody coming in from leadership in the company asking me, ‘How could I help you grow? How can I take you to the next level?’ How can? How can? How can? They ask, they listen, and they come up with that support. They bring us the education and let us know when we need to do it. I mean really ANYTHING that we ever need…we call, and they do their best to deliver. Likewise, anything they ever need, they call, and we do our best to deliver. Mutual respect, mutual trust, there to help each other grow.”
Elan’s sentiments were similar, and he expanded on the support and the mutually beneficial partnership they have with The Salon People. He added, “We have a mutual desire to grow. It benefits us if TSP does well because there’s more resources to support us, and it benefits them if we grow. But I do like the personal aspect. If I need anything I could pick up the phone and call Tom. I could call Jen. They are very easy to get ahold of. And I know they are like that with everybody, because you know we started as a smaller account. It was a small business and we’ve always had the same relationship with them. Our relationship did not change because our numbers grew, and they didn’t treat us any way differently just because of that. They found opportunities to showcase our team. That’s just one example where they helped us in a way that would have been harder to do on our own. That makes us a better company for our staff to work for. There’s strong commonality between us. It’s not like they’re just saying that they’re going to sell us the product of the month, instead we’re on the same path. We’re on the same mission, and we are business aligned.”
The Next Five Years:
When asked about what the next five years look like for PYURE, Luca said, “I think one of our goals we can share is rather than thinking of an exit plan strategy, we are thinking of an expansion plan strategy, including helping our employees to be entrepreneurs in the future.“ Elan added, “We don’t want anybody to leave us because they couldn’t grow anymore. You know what I mean? That would almost be like a failure to us, because our goal was to always create and help people grow. If they desire to grow, we need to find a way to make that happen. If that’s not what they want then it’s their choice, but the opportunity needs to be there.”