It was a Facebook status that was read by hundreds and hundreds about a person left unnamed, a jab thrown at a very famous owner and platform artist who apparently was not doing so well in his business lately. We all knew who the subject was.
I am very protective of the people that have the courage to try to build something great in any business but especially the hair business because I know how hard it is. There is an incredible amount of competition and talent fighting for the same market, and for someone to be able to rise above what the other 99% of salon owners are ever able to carve out for themselves is incredible in itself. It’s fucking tough out there.
I have just a few things I consider when I think about who I look up to in the hair business. The main one is if you built your business by hiring people with a book, a choice every salon owner makes at some point. For me, it’s important that someone is furthering the industry by developing talent. It’s a process of giving back while building culture and identity. And the salon owners that do this can look in the mirror and feel good about themselves for not hurting another business in any way than by competing for clients. Most salon owners are competing for established staff instead, and it’s often under-handed.
So back to the question. Yes, I would happily take advice from someone who was struggling, because they generally know what put them in that bad position and they have tried many different ideas on their path as an owner. I could fill a book with all the reasons I have struggled or the poor choices I have made. In fact, the things that worked would be a very short list. But for those of us who have a bit of scale, our poor choices get noticed more. And often we are gossiped about, whispered about and the industry rumour mill gleefully grinds on. Just like in the salon, dead people often bitch about busy people. And salon owners who lack courage bitch about those who do if they are in the same city.
Our business is nothing like any other, and it can’t be built by a theory or a mathematical equation. We are in the people business and nothing happens if you don’t have happy people pushing themselves to greater things every day. I’ve seen business “experts” talk about numbers and commissions that are so low they are laughable, that would never work in the real world. But the experts are usually people with nothing actually on the line every day in the business.
As I wrote earlier, this business is hard, maybe the hardest. Nothing is really learned from successes, it’s mostly learned from failures. And I’d much rather learn from people who have fallen and gotten back up than someone who has never truly stood up in the first place.
A short video of a mainstage presentation we did at the ABA last year.