Meet The Team: Jean-Michel Chalayer, Co-Founder & CEO of LeSalon
By Zoe Greenwood, January 29 2021
You wanted to see more behind the scenes, so welcome to LeSalon HQ! Step inside and meet some of the brains behind the business.
Let’s start with Jean-Michel “JM” Chalayer. Co-founder and CEO of mobile beauty app, LeSalon.
Originally born in Montreal, JM moved around a lot as a kid. He lived in Paris, Germany, Switzerland, Argentina and the UK – and yes, he can speak all the languages! Once he arrived in London, though, he immediately fell in love with the city (who can blame him?) and started his career in management consulting – we know, not quite what you would expect…
After 2.5 years of long hours and constant travelling, he saw an opportunity – how great would it be if customers had easy access to high-quality beauty treatments without having to re-schedule their schedule? Even better, what if therapists could work on their own terms without the restraints that salons put on them?
And, there you have it. JM left everything, started LeSalon and is still going strong with an ever-growing team of experts and a community of vibrant therapists (he still has the long hours though…). This week we asked JM all the questions we know you’ve been dying to hear – check out his answers below!
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I always wanted to be a business man. My dad was a business man and I always looked up to him. I really liked the fact that he got to travel all around the world for his work and brought me back all these amazing gifts from the other side of the planet.
What does your day-to-day job entail?
If you were looking at me from the outside, you’d see me sitting at my desk typing away on laptop and doing video calls.
As the CEO of LeSalon, my job is to define the company’s strategy, make sure we execute it properly, have enough money to make it work, and to be an ambassador for the brand everywhere I go.
This means that I’m spending most of my time thinking about the future of LeSalon, explaining it to the team and making sure they have everything they need, explaining it to shareholders and investors, and promoting it to the press and on social media.
What’s the best part about your job?
I get to see the positive impact we have on people’s lives, being my team, our Salonettes or customers. There is nothing that satisfies me more than seeing a team member grow, a Salonette being able to achieve her dreams thanks to the money she’s earned on LeSalon, or a customer feeling great about themselves after her LeSalon treatment.
What’s your favourite thing about working at LeSalon?
Seeing the people in my team every day. They are incredible people and I just love spending time with each of them.
What’s your favourite treatment?
Manicure, no hesitation. I have a very bad habit of biting the skin around my nails, and having a manicure is the only way to stop me from doing it.
What’s your favourite quote?
“Life’s a journey, not a destination” from Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I’m a strong believer that life is a collection of experiences and I’m trying to live my life ensuring I’m experiencing it to the fullest.
What’s your favourite LeSalon memory?
Talking about experiences! Back in 2018, our co-working space – Ministry of Startups – opened up a branch in Lisbon. In an effort to encourage teams to move all or part of their team there, Ben – the owner of Ministry – offered 4 flight tickets per team. We took advantage of the opportunity with our team, and it was an incredible experience.
Lisbon is an amazing city, if you haven’t been I highly recommend it.
What are your top 3 favourite podcasts/books?
I’ve just finished listening to Trevor Noah’s autobiography, Born a Crime. It’s an incredible account of what life was in South Africa during and after Apartheid. He’s an incredible story teller, and you feel like you are there with him! Truly moving and captivating.
How to own the world, from Andrew Craig, is another one of my favourites. He explains the world of finance and investing in terms that are easy to understand. After reading that book I felt a lot more confident to tackle how to handle my personal finances.
Finally, I’m addicted to the podcast Secret Leaders from my friend Dan. He’s having honest and deep conversations with some incredible business leaders and it never fails to broaden my perspective.
Talking about podcasts, I recently listened to a very inspiring interview from Jonny Wilkinson talking about mental health. He speaks about his own grappling with mental health disorder and how it brought him to a life of exploration and fulfilment. Very inspiring.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
During lockdown I became addicted to working out with an app called Fiit. They have such a good variety of strength, cardio and yoga classes that I’m now working out everyday! Otherwise I love spending time with my girlfriend Inna, cooking, eating, watching Netflix, and with my friends, doing exactly the same things 😁
What’s your background?
As you probably have guessed from my name (and if you heard me speak), I’m French. I was born in Montréal, French-speaking Canada, from a Vietnamese Mum and a French Dad. We moved to Paris when I was four, and that’s where I spent most of my time growing up. But as a kid we moved a lot, I lived in Germany, Switzerland, Argentina and now the UK.I studied business at university, first at ESSEC in Paris, and then at LBS in London. That was the first time I went to London and immediately fell in love with the city. After graduating, I started a career in management consulting and that’s where the idea from LeSalon came from. I decided to leave consulting to start LeSalon and have been there ever since.
What makes you feel ‘powerfully beautiful’?
A good workout, a fresh shower and some nice clothes make me feel like I can conquer the world!