Archive for the ‘Business Basics’ Category

Styling Curly Hair for More Business

by Michelle Breyer on Thursday, September 1st, 2011


Styled at The Damn Salon

With many women trading damaged, flat-ironed hair for more natural curls or textured ‘dos, a growing number of stylists are now focusing on curly-haired clients and their different styling needs.

Learning about styling curly hair not only brings you new business, but can also keep your chair full during down seasons. With so many products and tools to choose from, we break down some of the most popular ways to break into this niche and to keep your business booming.

Education is Key

Stylists across the country are beginning to recognize the growing trend for textured looks, which has prompted an increase in education. Classes can be found across the country, the most prominent coming from New York’s Deva certification classes, which can last anywhere from one to three days, that trains stylists on the art of dry cutting, the no shampoo method, coloring, and styling curly hair. Ouidad also has a New York certification and aids in promoting a newly certified stylists through their extensive email database of curlies.

If you don’t want to commit to just one brand, there are several ways to gain more knowledge on the art of styling curly hair. NaturallyCurly.com hosts “Texture!” each year at ABS Chicago, drawing hundreds of stylists who have the opportunity to ask questions and watch demonstrations from the biggest names in textured tresses.

Attending beauty trade shows can be the biggest bang for your buck in terms of education with curl-friendly product lines such as Ouidad, Hair Rules, As I am, Jane Carter Solution, Tigi and Mizani showcasing the latest techniques for curls and kinks. These shows are also a great place to catch up on valuable business tips. Premiere Orlando hosts over 50 classes dedicated to building your business as a stylist and salon owner during the three-day convention.

Meetup groups are also an invaluable educational opportunity for both consumers and stylists. One of the largest natural hair meet-up groups comes together in the Dallas area, with over 1,600 curlies looking for advice and education on styling curly hair. Meetups are also great marketing tools, especially for stylists who want to help women transition to natural hair. They have the opportunity to show off their skills to a highly engaged audience.

Getting the Word Out

More stylists and salon owners are finding unique ways to promote their curl expertise through social media, meet-ups, and salon events. With over 500 million active users on Facebook, companies, such as Schedulicity, are helping stylists and salon owners fill their appointment books through their business pages.

Social media can be an especially powerful way for stylists to get new clients. Teresa DeLorenzo of Mademoiselle Salon & Spa in Haverford, PA. says online reviews and word of mouth are her main form of recruiting business.

“Having curly hair is like a cult,” she says. “Two curly-haired women meet and right away they start talking about who does their hair.”

Here are examples of how some stylists have taken advantage of styling curly hair to keep their chairs full:

Niche: The Power of the Deva Cut

Shai Amiel
Capella Salon, Studio City, Calif.

Training: Honed curl techniques on his own and trained with Lorraine Massey from Devachan Salon

Background: Since starting in the business fifteen years ago, Amiel has noticed how hard it is for curly-haired clients to find someone skilled in styling curly hair. Over half of Amiel’s clientele has curly or textured hair, and he says adding the curl department has definitely increased retail sales in the salon. “I never really planned on specializing in curly hair, but over the years it just kind of happened,” he adds. “It’s just been a fun ride.”

“So many women with curly hair have been getting bad haircuts as a result of cutting curly hair wet and in big sections,” says Amiel. “I end up fixing many hair disasters by other so called ‘curl specialists.’”

He’s become known as the “curl doctor” and invited Lorraine Massey, author of “Curly Girl: The Handbook,” and Deva product creator to train Capella Salon’s team.

How he Markets His Salon: Amiel also teamed up with Massey to create Charity: Water, an organization committed to bringing clean drinking water to developing countries. The project kicked off at Capella Salon’s Curls Night Out, where stylists demonstrated techniques for styling curly hair, and clients enjoyed wine, champagne, and desserts. Massey was on hand during the event to sign books and answer curly questions. To spread the word of the event, Shai used Facebook and NaturallyCurly.com to ensure that all of the area curlies were invited. The raffle at Curls Night Out raised almost $800 for charity: water.

Salon Cleaning & Sweeping Tips

by Ivan Zoot/The Clipper Guy on Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

As stylists, it’s easy for us to get swept up in the latest fad hair cut or a funky new styling product. We think these new shiny objects will help us build our business.

But, the most important things to many of our clients, the things that keep them coming back, are usually much more mundane. A sparkling clean shop is one of the salon basics that doesn’t get much ink, but is worthy of a lot of time and attention. Funny thing is, these basics typically cost little or nothing, and are available to everyone.

Proper sweeping of hair clippings is a great example of a basic salon cleaning routine that could use some focus. A clear and simple sweeping policy sends a message to all team members about just how very important sweeping is to the success of your business. Here are my top five tips to get swept up in sweeping.

1. Sweep every client. No exceptions. A client should never be led back to an unswept station. Each client should walk up to a styling station that is as clean as the first client of the day. We stopped noticing hair clippings many clients ago, but our clients just do not feel this way. You would never return to a dentist if you saw teeth on the floor. To a salon client, hair clippings are the same thing.

2. Move the broom. If it is not convenient to grab the broom between every client, move the broom to a more convenient location. Sometimes it can be that simple to implement a change in your salon cleaning routine.

3. Sweep for each other - 80% rule. If we all sweep for each other, everyone sweeps less. I do not have hard math to prove this equation, but if you get all the hair at your chair and 80% of the hair at all the others as you sweep by, there is less hair for the next guy, and so on. It is part of truly working as a team.

4. Remove the pile. Do not stop sweeping when you get the pile to the corner or near the can. Run the race all the way to the finish line and pick up the pile and place it in a covered can, as the law likely requires. A long handled dustpan takes the back strain out of this step. If clients find a bit of clippings objectionable, then the massive multi-colored hair pile is an even bigger turn off.

5. Sweep by example.Owners and managers can send powerful messages to their salon teams with the simple act of working the broom. This puts you on the floor, between the chairs interacting with clients and cutters. Listening in on conversations and observing service delivery offers powerful information with which to coach, train and develop staff members.

Grab a broom and get back to this salon cleaning basic. A clean salon is the real shiny object the clients came to marvel at.

Salon Equipment: Lease or Buy?

by Karen Mcintosh on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

It’s the age-old question when starting a business, lease or buy the necessary equipment? The truth is, both sides have their advantages and disadvantages and the decision rests solely on your personal needs as a salon owner.

Pros of Leasing

If you have limited capital or need equipment that needs to be upgraded every few years, leasing can be a smart option. A lease lets you easily refresh equipment with a relatively short shelf life before it becomes outdated or obsolete.

To acquire salon equipment and furniture through leasing, your initial outlay is minimal and lets you finance up to 100% of the cost for the equipment, including soft operating costs. Compared to loans, leases are relatively easy and fast to obtain, with short applications and 24-hour approval.

Lease payments free up capital and bank lines and provide more liquidity. Depending on how they are structured, leases can be fully tax deductible which reduces the net cost of your lease.

When You Should Lease

• If the equipment has a short shelf life, will be obsolete in less than 5 years
• If the equipment will rapidly depreciate in value
• You want to factor it as an operating expense
• Capital is limited, you want to avoid a large down payment and have a fixed monthly payment structure
• To update equipment frequently

Pros of Buying

Leased equipment is almost always more expensive than purchased equipment, given the higher total cost of ownership than if you purchase the equipment outright. In addition, if the equipment is essential to your business and hard to get, there’s no guarantee that you will be able to retain it at the end of your lease.

Purchasing can be the better option if the equipment has a long, useable life, is essential to your business operations and is irreplaceable or difficult to replace. If you can absorb the high initial costs, you own the equipment outright as a business asset, preferably one that keeps its value.

Tax incentives can also be a good reason to purchase outright. Check with the IRS or your accountant on rules that allow you to fully deduct the cost of some salon equipment in the first year, or whether you need to depreciate.

When You Should Buy

• If a significant upfront discount for a cash purchase if offered.
• The new equipment will appreciate in value.
• If you want to categorize the equipment as a capital expense.
• If you can absorb a large capital outlay or have a more economical line of credit.
• When the equipment is irreplaceable or vital to business operations.

Common Lease Types

There are 2 major types of leases—operating leases and capital, or finance, leases. An operating lease is used for short-term leasing of equipment that tends to become obsolete fast. With a capital lease, ownership of the equipment is transferred to you at the end of the lease and contains a bargain purchase option. This type of lease is good for salon equipment that will not lose value and that you want to keep. The Dollar Buyout is an example of a capital lease; at the end of your lease you purchase the equipment for a dollar.

A Fair Market Value lease can be structured as an operating or finance lease. It typically allows for lower monthly fixed payments than a buyout, with three options at the end of the lease term. You can buy the equipment at fair market value, return the equipment, or renew the lease.

Evaluating Financial Factors

Comparing the lease price to the purchase price is just the beginning of deciding whether to buy or lease salon equipment. Analyze and compare how leasing and buying will impact cash flow, future profits, taxes, and your current line of credit, and how long you need the equipment. Also calculate the total cost of ownership, factoring in tax breaks and resale value.

How will the new equipment increase your bottom line?

Determine the overall cost and lease payments, then calculate how many services you will need to sell daily or weekly to recoup the cost and profit. The income from the increased services should be greater than the cost of the equipment.

TCO

To calculate total cost of ownership, factor in not just salon equipment costs but also operating expenses such as insurance, maintenance, installation and training. If you choose, you can also include these costs in a lease agreement to spread out payments.

How long will you need the equipment?

Project your business needs and direction out for that length of time as well as the length of the lease. If your business changes direction and you no longer need the equipment, you still have monthly payments for the entire lease term. Some leases give you a cancel option, but also include hefty early termination fees.

Choosing a Leasing Company

Research your financing company carefully, especially if they have an Internet storefront. Most reputable leasing companies are members of the Equipment Leasing Association as well as regional leasing associations, and have referrals or testimonials from clients. A careful buyer will verify those references. Almost all salon equipment companies are partnered with a financing company and will make a direct referral. In addition, as with any large expense, get several competitive quotes to compare terms and cost.


Karen Mcintosh (Suburbanbushbabe in CurlTalk) is grateful to the straight hair gods who ignored her. Share your views with Karen in CurlTalk or her blog Starry Eleven Twins.

Salon Sanitizing Tips for Customer Loyalty

by Ivan Zoot/The Clipper Guy on Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Salon sanitation is not a fun and sexy topic, but the reality is that selling sanitation—in a big way!—can build (and save) more clients than learning the next big trend haircut.

For best results when selling sanitation, you need to use good sanitation principles and practices to grow your business.

Here’s how:

Get Caught Sanitizing

Sanitizing should happen in plain view of your clients. Disposable razor blades should be changed at the beginning of each service after the client is seated. Remember, if I did not see you change the blade, you did not change the blade.

Even if all tools are cleaned before the client sits down, a fast shot of spray sanitizer on a clipper blade sends a powerful message. Spraying scissors before you start a cut will be noticed.

Pulling a nasty hairball off of a round brush in front of a client sends the wrong message.

Clean Every Client

Every client should walk up to your chair and see a chair that looks like the chair the first client saw at the beginning of the day. Reset your tools. Sweep the floor. Check the mirror. Each client should feel like the first and only client of the day.

Don’t Top Off

When the liquid in your wet sanitizer is no longer bright blue, and the hairball at the bottom is the size of a hamster, it’s time to dump it out and start over.

Do not just top it off with water. Adding water alters the strength and effectiveness of the mix. The lighter blue color screams of this.

Accept Gravity

When a tool is dropped on the floor, leave it there. Grab another comb. Have more combs on hand so you can do this. Kick it out of the way so no one slips and falls. Do NOT pick it up, wipe it off and keep cutting.

Sanitizers need time to work. If you pick up the comb from the floor then your hands are no longer clean either. Clients notice these things. They may not comment on them, just as they may not come back.

Make Sanitation Easy

Spray can products like Andis Cool Care 5oinONE clipper spray are easy to use. The easier they are to use the more likely they will actually be used. Stock all the necessary cleaning products in a convenient place so they can be easily accessed by anyone as needed.

Move the broom. If the broom is way in the back of the shop and it takes too much time to go get it, use it and put it back, move the broom to a more convenient location. Do NOT just skip it and sweep every few clients (more on sweeping next blog post).

Good sanitizing practices build businesses and customer loyalty. Word will spread - diseases will not – and that is a win-win for everyone.

Sell clean!

How to Become a Stylist & Keep Your Individuality

by Antonio Gonzales on Saturday, July 9th, 2011

antonio gonzales

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.

My fellow hairstylists, I want to talk today about our industry and the significant part each one of us play in it. After many educational classes worldwide and intense salon training, I’ve realized that somewhere along the way I starting leaving behind was my sense of my personal creativity and originality. As you already know, after beauty school, there are endless cutting, coloring and styling classes. I believe you are never too old to learn, and it is important for us to keep a fresh perspective. I also believe as hairstylists we have something that no one can teach us: the gift of individuality.

My Personal Experience

Like most hair stylists, when I started my career I wanted to learn how to become a stylist from the inside out without missing a single detail. While being mentored by hairstylists, I paid attention to every detail of their philosophy and personal techniques. The feeling of really understanding what works well for someone else’s success was so liberating. This meant I would stand a chance of being a success in my industry and making a good living. I worked very hard on becoming the best version of what I saw in my mentors. Can you relate? I was rewarded with opportunities I will forever be grateful for, and I was able to build a strong clientele and mentor other hairstylists.

Now something is changing in my approach to my craft and you guessed it—it’s my individuality. This installment is to remind you that you too have something special, something apart from the cutting classes, philosophies and product knowledge. No one can teach you individuality. Our uniqueness is something each of us is born with, and it sometimes gets lost in all the information we must retain.

Apart from learning from others, I spend a lot of time thinking of what “defines my style as a hairstylist?” If asked what my specialty is, what would be my answer be? How do I set myself apart from other hairstylists, in my salon, my town, even my city? Am I becoming a salon robot with my focus working as fast as I can or selling as much product as I can? Remember when we first went to beauty school and we were afraid, but not knowing also gave us the “just go for it” attitude? Well, that’s exactly what I am talking about, taking chances in a safe environment will only allow you to break out of the mold we sometimes find ourselves in after years of being in the industry.

Tips on How to Become Stylist

Here are some helpful tips on how you should move forward in re-discovering the old-new you:

1. First you need to dedicate a certain amount of time per week to your craft out of the salon. This time can be at home in private where you can have time to work on all the ideas you may have had where cutting, coloring or styling is concerned. Separate yourself from the everyday “salon robot.”

2. Purchase a long hair mannequin with a tall tripod mannequin stand to work on.

3. Start recruiting friends and family as your personal models for cuts and coloring.

4. The most important thing to keep in mind is if we keep doing the same cuts, styles and colors the results are going to be the same. Dare yourself to take chances in a safe environment.

This may not be for everyone. There are some of us who call ourselves hair burners. If that is where your head is at, then I urge you to think differently. We make people feel and look beautiful. Thankfully, we can support ourselves and our families with this amazing craft so be proud and be the best…always.

4 Steps to Salon Safety

by Karen Mcintosh on Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

4 Steps to Salon Safety

It is easy to see how unsafe chemical lab, mines or nuclear facilities can be. But in the soothing, comfortable, spa-like atmosphere of a hair salon it can be difficult to hone in on the harsh reality of the hazards employees face every day. Hazards that require a good salon safety plan.

Salon workers have daily contact with flammable, hazardous chemicals. They use high-voltage electrical tools in a water-rich environment, breathe harmful fumes from chemical solutions used in coloring, bleaching, perms and straighteners. And they handle and wear flammable products and clothing.

Stylists, shampoo staff and nail techs are at risk for contact dermatitis, eczema, asthma and respiratory illnesses, allergies, musculoskeletal disorders, slips, trips and other accidents. The World Health Organization has classified the occupation of hairdresser and barber as “probably carcinogenic”.

OSHA recently issued rules on the use of formaldehyde-releasing products. The safety organization is requiring employers to give employees appropriate gloves and other personal protective equipment such as face shields, chemical splash goggles and chemical-resistant aprons, and to train them on how to use this equipment while mixing and applying the products.

Salon Marketing Tips for Slow Summer Months

by Trash Talk with Anna Craig on Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Anna Craig

Hair has been Anna Craig’s passion since she was 12 years old; this has always been her path in life. In 2001, she went to school in Tempe, AZ, at the Carsten Aveda Institute. After doing hair for about 5 years, she realized that precision haircuts were her specialty, after years of thinking that color was her calling. After doing hair in Arizona for several years, she took the plunge and moved to Texas, and her career took off. She soon opened her own salon, Trashy Roots Salon & Spa. There she became a Certified Deva Stylist, specializing in Curly Girl haircuts. She is also an artistic educator, which gives her the opportunity to go out to different salons in the area and educate them on new products and techniques. She is very involved in her community—holding annual cut-a-thons, participating in benefit hair shows, and helping with local beauty schools.

In the summer, clients are vacationing and busy with their children, so you need to adapt your salon marketing strategies to their crazy lives. Make sure to book their appointments right when school gets out, before their vacations, and before they leave already have their back-to-school schedule.

1. Summer Special

Offer a special, like 10% off any color service or a free haircut with a chemical service. This could help entice clients to come see you when times are slow. This helps when clients are trying to cut back and save money for vacations. July is one of the slowest months in any salon, so do a “July Deal” and offer a special for your clients.

2. Punk Colors and Feathers for Children

This is a great way to add on services and to encourage your clients to bring their children into your salon. Punk colors add up to big tickets because it’s a double process, the hair has to be lightened and then colored. Adding a haircut to either service is always encouraged. You will be amazed at how many referrals you get for new clients just by doing some fun kids hair.

3. Retail Products for Summer Hair

Clients need to be educated on what products they should use on their hair in the summer. If you have a specialty sun line, display it or put it on special. Your clients want to protect their investment, so show them how. Offer a special: liter sale, buy two, get one half off, or 10% OFF certain products.

4. Referrals

This is by far the best salon marketing tip for building up your clientele. It has two benefits: it is free and you don’t lose any money. I offer a program where if a client refers three friends, she receives a free haircut. Talk to your clients about referring their friends and family to you. Even talk about it on Facebook or put it out in an email. You will be amazed how fast clients start pouring in to keep you busy.

5. Stylist Reviews

This gets your name out there and helps new clients to find you. Offer 10% OFF their next appointment for every review written or have a review contest (pick one client who wrote a review to win $50 with you each week). The more positive stylist or salon reviews you have online the more business you will have. Clients don’t use the phone book any more to search for salons—they use the internet. So make sure there is positive information out there about you.

6. Rebooking

If you rebook every client all year long you won’t have a slow summer season. If you wait around for clients to call, then you will not hear from your clients until summer is over and you will starve all summer. So keep yourself busy all year long and rebook EVERY single client who sits in your chair.

Using Positive Reinforcement to Motivate your Employees

by Karen Mcintosh on Monday, June 20th, 2011

Using Positive Reinforcement to Motivate your Employees

Being happy and productive at work is more than just the number of zeros on a paycheck, study after study has shown. People work for money, but they work even more to have their lives mean something to themselves and others. If money was the key motivator and you and all your competitors were paying industry standard wages, no one would switch jobs. Obviously that’s not the case.

If you are doing little more than paying a competitive wage, your company will not stand out as a great place to work. Employees also need a psychological paycheck. Being valued for their work, respected, trusted with responsibility, and given new creative outlets are as important as financial rewards.

How Not to Motivate

Negative reinforcement has very strong energy. Like a black hole, it can suck all the air and enthusiasm from the room and leave a bitter residue your customers will sense and want to avoid.

This clip from “Tabatha’s Salon Takeover” illustrates how to not use reinforcement:

This owner’s attitude and lack of objectivity is a painful example of how negative reinforcement affects the performance of her entire staff and the success of her business. If someone with the owner’s attitude walked in the door looking for work, do you think she herself would hire that person?

From Chair Renter to Business Owner

by Megan Dorcey on Friday, June 17th, 2011

From Chair Renter to Business Owner

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!

Tips for Bridal Hair Consultations

by Antonio Gonzales on Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

antonio gonzales

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.

Limited Options

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!

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