Tell us about your business and its backstory and/or mission.
I’m a small salon suite owner for the last six years. I specialized in hair extensions, hair education, and healthy hair for customers and other stylists. I am a strong believer that there is an extension for everyone and that there is not bad hair just hair we don’t take care of properly. I had made it my mission to teach each person that sits on my chair how to properly care for their hair so they can have their best hair, even if I am no longer their stylist. Knowledge is power.
Tell us a little more about your experiences with your business during the lockdown.
My salon suite business was shut down for six weeks in Colorado Springs, CO. During that time stylists were not able to provide any services in person. Through adversity comes innovation. I marketed my online product page for guests and even created a virtual men’s cutting class on Zoom where men trust their women to cut their hair with my virtual guidance. This made a great couples bonding and building class, as well as demonstrate a possible new market. Offers came from as far as Poland.
With the additional free time, I have taken various courses including but not limited to haircutting, extensions, business, marketing, branding, coloring extensions, Curly hair extensions, and Instagram marketing. These were a mix of free and paid virtual education. It’s important for stylists to stay current as well as learn new skills. This is helpful in my business of educating clients and for consulting other stylists to help grow their business.
In order to keep a schedule and structure to the day, I would practice extensions, custom colors, and cutting on a variety of mannequin heads. I even entered a couple of virtual hair color contests for fun.
I love marketing, so I filled in the gaps in my day to create new marketing content though online videos and photos, work on updating my website, and updating all of my services and prices. There are so many details you miss until you look. I was able to update my business in places like Yellow Pages, Bing Places, 411, and several others. These will help funnel future clients to your Business page, Social Media, and Webpage. Sometimes the simplest changes make the biggest difference. I noticed I was one of the few stylists that had a complete profile on the salon suite website, and after making a few small changes, I have received several phone calls by paying attention to the details; it’s paying off.
I would also make time in my day to check in with my clients. I had just opened my business in CO when everything started. This time helped me create a plan to action to grow my business and build strong relationships with the guests I already had. During forced shut down, it was nice to get to know clients better.
Lastly, I used my time to plan future business moves and growth into a new market segment, my island of Puerto Rico. As a military wife moving is part of our lifestyle and requires unique solutions to owning your own business. Knowing that we will be moving again in 18 months this time from behind the chair gave me the opportunity to start my business plan for a new salon and salon supply house for our next move in Puerto Rico. I started reaching out to suppliers and vendors to built relationships with them. Additionally, there are different laws, regulations, and markets that need to be researched. All this work upfront will ensure your passion turns into a reality.
Now that you’re re-opening, what are some of the biggest changes you’re making to how you run your business, so it’ll be safer for you and your clients when you re-open?
As the Governor of Colorado started its phased reopening, they posted a set of suggested guidelines to help keep us safe. It referenced the wearing of masks, social distancing, and cleaning suggestions for salon owners. I clean and disinfect my salon suite before and after each guest with medical grade disinfectant. I have to wear a mask at all times and so do my guests; although we have fun with it and take selfies to post on social media. We both wash our hands upon entering the suite and only one person is allowed in the suite with me. Guests are not allowed to wait in the salon waiting area, so guests text me when they arrive and wait in their vehicle for me to give them the ok to come in. I always love to offer drinks and snacks. To be able to provide this service, I purchased individually wrapped snacks and gum. I also have straws with every drink. That way they can drink with their masks on. Most guests don’t eat the snacks at the suite but they do love to take them for the road. It does get really hot with a mask all day, (pro tip: Wear your hair up) so I am scheduling an hour lunch. Yes, that hour lunch is needed. You will thank me for taking the time to breathe, eat, drink and just relax some. Do not stress about getting everyone in during the first week. By that I mean do not overbook yourself and run the risk of not getting enough rest. You will need your rest. Allow thirty minutes to clean and disinfect between guests. You and your guests touch more than you think. Have extra brushes, shears, combs handy while the others dry from disinfecting. I Use a new cape with every guest to minimize any cross-contamination. I also don’t talk while shampooing. If you think about it we are right on top of your guest, so it’s just safer that way and they will appreciate it. My salon closed the laundry, so laundry is done at home for the time being. I wash those as soon as I get home and clean and disinfect the hamper while clothes are washing and drying. When you finally get to open remember to have fun with your guests, talk about positive things, be grateful to be back to work, and follow any other guidelines provided by your state. We are coming back stronger than ever.
Have you found any tools or resources that have been especially useful as you’re navigating the regulations for re-opening?
I have found your states governors website helpful. Additionally, blogs or hearing from other stylists are helpful to find out what they are doing and how can you adapt. Lastly, following the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Government CARES act is extremely helpful to understand what you may qualify for if you lost income or worse your job.
Also utilize your local commercial cleaning and janitorial suppliers. I found a medical-grade disinfectant called Australian Gold. It’s great because 2oz of products give you a gallon of disinfectant and the smell is very mild so no more dying with the strong smells of Lysol. Fill a spray bottle, and it makes cleaning and disinfecting much easier.
Tell us some more about how you’re feeling about re-opening, and why.
I feel stronger than ever. I have taken this time to sharpen my skills, to broaden my education and I am ready to give my best. My passion is hair and hair extensions. I feel more at home when I am able to be with my clients and creating new and beautiful lives for them.
Is there anything positive that’s surprised you about this re-opening process?
I have noticed guests now recognize, more than ever, how truly important we are as stylists. This is a great opportunity to elevate our career.
Is there anything that’s more challenging than you’d anticipated about this re-opening process?
The worst part for me has been working with a mask all day and the amount of cleaning. It gives you a different appreciation for everyone in the medical field that has been not only wearing masks but covering themselves completely for long hours.
What advice do you have for your fellow business owners who are nervous about re-opening?
Everyone has a different level of comfort. Start slow if you are hesitant. As long as you have a plan, follow the guidelines, and disinfect correctly you will reduce the chance of the spread. Take this opportunity to let your guests know about everything you have been doing to better yourself as a professional.