From Chair Renter to Business Owner
by Megan Dorcey on Friday, June 17, 2011
We had the chance to catch up with acclaimed stylist and new salon owner Martha Lynne Barnes about her vision for her recently opened Austin salon, Mirror Mirror, and her recipe for success.
Q: You have a pretty impressive resume, working in two of the hottest salons in Austin as well as styling for Extreme Makeover, Austin Ballet and HSN just to name a few. At what point in your career did you realize that you needed a space of your own?
A: Even before I went to beauty school, I knew I wanted to own my own business. I have always LOVED spending time in the salon. As a client, I love the way you feel when you are getting pampered. The creative energy that flows through the best salons is so inviting and inspiring. I had a vision for a place that would be a blend of relaxation, indulgence and creative flow, and I worked toward the ultimate freedom of owning the business so I could execute it properly. I woke up one morning ready to bring it to life, and here we are.
Q: Now that you own your own salon, what do you bring into your leadership style from your days as a chair renter?
A: My mom is the most amazing manager in her field and what I have learned from her over the years is that you should surround yourself with the best team and then get out of their way so they can do their jobs. In general, if you just do the right thing and follow the golden rule, treating others as you would like others to treat you, everything else will fall into place. That goes for my leadership style with my team at Mirror Mirror as well as the way we all treat our clients.
Q: Is there a recipe for success if a stylist wants to branch out and own their own space?
A: Either know the business side or find someone who does. There is so much more to owning a salon than having a place to do hair. I am also finding that it’s important to strike a balance with your time spent behind the chair and the time spent working on the business development. My husband is extremely business savvy and supportive of my vision, so I would say having a support system is important as well.
Q: What was the biggest hurdle you had to jump in order to open Mirror, Mirror?
A: Getting married the same month that we were building the space! I have found that when the right door opens you have to embrace the moment and walk through it. A space that I loved in a wonderful neighborhood became available right as we were approaching our wedding. It wasn’t easy but what a great way to come back from a honeymoon!
Q: With so many salons fighting for business, how do you stay unique and relevant?
A: Take care of your stylists and take care of your clients. There is a tremendous amount of talent in Austin so you need to stay humble and remember why you are here. Our team is continually striving to learn and improve on our craft. We have a very positive environment and we build each other up. If your team and your clients are happy then you have succeeded…it’s just that simple!
Q: Where do you see Mirror Mirror in one year? 5 years? 10 years?
A: (One Year): Our first year is about creating awareness, introducing the space and the Mirror Mirror team to the community. Once Mirror Mirror is top of mind, I’d like focus on our specialty, which is wedding beauty. I feel confident that our team is the best in town when it comes to creating a beautiful look for a bride. From the hair and makeup to skincare leading up to the wedding to the accessories she wears on the big day, we can help! We are professional, creative and we truly understand the logistics of coordinating the beauty plan for weddings! We also have a beautiful boutique salon that is ideal for wedding parties. We want to create an atmosphere that is bridal friendly on one of the most important days of her life! No bride wants to get rushed around a busy salon on her wedding day. She wants special attention and the ability to spend time with the people who are most important to her. We also have the capabilities to bring an exceptional team and the salon to her.
(5 Years, 10 years and beyond): I would love to see the Mirror Mirror brand become aligned with all things beauty. I truly believe that people should love what they see in the mirror and if they don’t, we should find out why! Some people need a minor tweak like cool new bangs and others need a full internal adjustment. I would love to help people do that. I want to continue to give back in the community and mentor new stylists. I would also love for the entire beauty and fashion community to become increasingly inclusive over time. There is plenty of work to be done and if we work together we can continue to beautify Austin and gain recognition nationally!