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 and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in N.Y., I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by shecky’s.com, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.
As stylists, we take so much for granted in terms of our knowledge of everything related to hair. To our clients, we can seem like an encyclopedia. Because clients consider us the “authority,” we must be diplomatic when bringing up potentially embarrassing situations to them. Sometimes clients are unaware there is a problem, so they don’t ask for help, leaving us without a window of opportunity to gently address it. This is where finesse and diplomacy come in.
I know, I know, we all should be aware of our personal hygiene, but at some point, we all have had our hygiene mishaps (dirty nails or bad breath). One area in particular where some clients seem to be consistently clueless is when the hair and scalp are dirty and have an odor. Here are some tips on how to make your client aware of something as sensitive as a smelly scalp or hair.
Don’t feel embarrassed. It is highly likely they would rather know than not. Here are some gentle lines to get and keep the conversation going.
“You may not be aware, but I have noticed you seem to be having a scalp issue. I’m not sure what may be causing this, but it’s important for me to bring it to your attention to assure you we can treat it.”
Notice I say “we.” This way the client doesn’t feel alone at a time when they may feel embarrassed, vulnerable and insecure.
Continue the conversation by asking the following questions until you find the culprit.
“Do you use any excessive oils or inexpensive silicone products on your hair?”
Share with the client how hair oils and silicones can build up on the hair quickly, especially cheap, low grade silicones.
“How often do you shampoo and what shampoo are you using?”
Recommend they increase the amount of times they shampoo, change their shampoo if necessary and that they get a shampoo that contains tea tree or a detoxifying shampoo that can help with keeping the scalp feeling fresh and clean of build up.
“What conditioner are you using and are you rinsing it well?”
Explain that leave-in conditioners are made to be left in. And regular conditioners are made to be rinsed off.
“When was the last time you washed your hair brushes and combs? Do you wear base ball caps or fabric ponytail holders, and when was the last time you washed them?”
Dreaded bacteria is one of the primary causes of a smelly scalp. Hairbrushes and combs should be washed at least once a week, especially if used frequently. Accessories hold bacteria, too, so encourage the use of washable ones so that they can be kept clean as well.
“Are you using hair powders to remove oil, and how often?”
Hair powders are also another culprit and possible cause of a dirty, smelly scalp.
As difficult and uncomfortable as these embarrassing situations may be, honesty is always the best policy when it comes to our clients and their hair. Don’t hold back. Your client may not respect you for not telling them when they ultimately figure out the truth — from someone else. Be the expert they rely on, and you’ll always keep them coming back.
The old phrase, “The grass is always greener on the other side,” refers to the tendency we humans have of examining each other’s lives and believing that others are better off than we are, even when they’re not.
Nowhere does that phrase ring more true than when it comes to contemplating our hair texture. Girls with thin, straight, lackluster locks always seem to be gazing over the fence at the girls with the curly, wavy tresses. And the girls with the natural whirls, twirls and kinks always seem to be sneaking a peek at the girls with the shiny, sleek hair.
And, aren’t we all glad that they do? That yearning is one of the most important motivators for driving clients into your chair. When clients are disillusioned with their hair texture, they seek shelter where a professional can offer them expert guidance and advice, a selection of skilled-based services, and shelves of products that benefit their unique hair type.
And, lucky are those clients who discover the wizened pros who help them understand, enhance and celebrate the beauty of their own texture, and teach them how to mix it up when the urge for change is irresistible.
As the cultures that make up America’s great melting pot continue to blend, a growing number of stylists are seeing the benefits of being able to work with a variety of waves, curls and kinks. By broadening their textural horizons, stylists are finding they can open up their books to a variety of new clients. Many soon discover they are tapping into an unmet need within their own communities, and before they know it, they’re being touted as texture experts and are catering to a whole niche market.
All in all, that’s good for business.
In the next edition of Texture!, brought to you through a collaboration of MODERN SALON and NaturallyCurly.com, we share strategies for honing and marketing your curl expertise, reveal the top five common curl mistakes, discover the boom in botanical oil-based products, and look into the new generation of Keratin treatments. As always, the texture conversation continues at MODERN SALON and NaturallyCurly.com.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?