Tips for Bridal Hair Consultations
by Antonio Gonzales on Tuesday, June 7, 2011
I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles, New York City and now Miami. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in New York, I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by sheckys.com, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the Best Cuts 2009.
I want to start this installment with some sound advice shared by my friend and idol, famed stylist Orlando Pita. It was during a quiet moment while sitting in the kitchen sharing a quick lunch in between clients, when he offered this advice: “A hairstylist is as good as our last job, and we are lucky if we get another,” he cautioned. “So always do your best and know you can always do better!”
That advice, filled with humility and hope, provided me with a moment of clarity. Ever since that day, I’ve striven to approach each job with my best effort. and I’m always grateful for the next opportunity. As hairstylists we need to support each other, and I am grateful for CurlStylist.com for giving me the opportunity to do so.
Now to the business at hand—brides!
Bridal Consultation Mistakes
When a bride who had never visited your salon sits in your chair for a consultation, there are many things we do to not get the job. Remember, this is not just a one-time wedding deal—she could turn into your client every six weeks. Or, she may be a client of yours already, so you want to keep her coming back after her big day.
Talking Over the Bride
Keep in mind it’s a very sensitive time in her life, so allow a bride to get everything off her chest. She has dreamt of this moment all her life with an idea in her head as what she should look like. Be patient and listen carefully.
Rushing a Consultation
It’s important to set aside enough time. No less than 20 minutes will do for someone who is preparing for the most important day of her life. I highly recommend asking the bride-to-be to bring in all her ideas, including images of the hairstyles she likes, veil, even images of the dress if she has it. You may ask “How can I book so much time in my day for free?”
First, schedule your consultations on a quiet day, rather than a Saturday when the salon is busy. Second, charge for your consultation. It’s your time and talent. I generally have the client pay 15% of the trial cost which is then deducted from the actual trial.
Always be ready to think fast when offering ideas to your bride-to-be. Think out of the box; don’t assume that your client won’t be open to trying something new. After going over her ideas, share your thoughts on what is best for her by combining ideas from the images she brought. Show her how you can make it all work. It’s a wedding, so think fresh, organic and chic.
Not Following Up
When the client has left the building, start brainstorming for ideas from magazines and online to help support your ideas. Email them to your client offering more information on her look and getting her excited to return to work with you.
Now That You’ve Got the Job
Do the best trial ever! Now that she’s in your chair, it’s time to your magic. This is where your skill and quick thinking really comes in. Honestly, one hour is not enough. An hour and a half is best, no kidding. I know it seems like a lot of time, but think long term, think of it as your “bread and butter.”
I also like working in a way that allows me to be flexible enough to offer the client three different looks. Be careful not to use too much hair spray or pins since you want to be able to make quick changes as you offer the bride-to-be each look.
Document the process so the client can see what was done and what changes she would like made. These images will be useful on the big day to put the client at ease and it will also give you, the stylist, a guideline to follow.
If your client is new, it is key for the bride-to-be to know that you can look after her even after her big day. So patience, efficiency and quality is very important. If she has a hairstylist from another salon who could not look after her bridal needs, as a rule I tell my clients “If it is not broken why fix it?” In other words, if she’s happy with her stylist then she should stay there. However, if she ever wants a change, I’m more than happy to accommodate her. Clients dislike when we try to pry them away from their long-term “hair romance” with their hairstylist. It is simply bad form and bad business.
So there you have it. I hope this inspires you as salon owners to think of the client first and the profit after. I hope it helps you the stylist to be as creative as you want without having to stop when you’re just getting started.
Here’s to many happily-ever-afters!