My Life As A Hairstylist

Salon owner, hairstylist, educator, product maker, photographer

“Would you take advice from someone who can’t pay their own rent and who’s business is failing?”

4 Comments

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.

4 thoughts on ““Would you take advice from someone who can’t pay their own rent and who’s business is failing?”

  1. As I see it, your successes are your (failures) or discoveries, turned inside out. Hairdressers don’t make mistakes they make discoveries. It’s one thing to get to the top and it’s another thing to stay there. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a born leader. I believe leaders need to learn to lead. Usually by learning what did work and didn’t work. Emulate what did work and move forward. Forward focus. My opinion, formed on experience for whatever it’s worth.

  2. Your honesty is so refreshing… an inspiration to all… Thank You!

  3. Hi.. i have read your take of experiences on the industry.. its so refreshing to read your honesty. I too find it incredible hard to evaluate this changing & forever evolving hair and beauty industry. It has changed so much in the 30 years i have been passionately working on the salon floor, educating, training and supporting staff.. and feeling that mist the time they will drop you like hot poo when it suits.

    I have always moved( not many over the years)with my head held high. Dignity. And morals.. never shitting on my employer.. but moving on for better oppotunities. A very dying breed.

    I have since brought a salon for the second time( 15years apart from 1st purchase salon and sold for a profit) this is with a huge franchise company.. wow.. what a mistake. The relationship is awful.. training and support poor.. BDM only does hus job when ass kicked.. lazy staff.. but yet i have invested lots of time and training.. teambuilding events etc.. in a hugely affluent area.. yet we struggle and gave clients negotiating prices.. no concept of the cost of salon. Staff. Overheads. Products. Vat. Tax. Etc. I find this very hard to understand.. as you have mentioned in one of your blogs.. i would never order a neal and negotiate a better price for 3 courses.. its a tougher industry if late and has changed so much.. hiwever i love it still!!! Thank you for your time and loved reading your theories.. they rang true.
    Kind regards
    Donna.. united kingdom

  4. Hi.. i have read your take of experiences on the industry.. its so refreshing to read your honesty. I too find it incredible hard to evaluate this changing & forever evolving hair and beauty industry. It has changed so much in the 30 years i have been passionately working on the salon floor, educating, training and supporting staff.. and feeling that mist the time they will drop you like hot poo when it suits.

    I have always moved( not many over the years)with my head held high. Dignity. And morals.. never shitting on my employer.. but moving on for better oppotunities. A very dying breed.

    I have since brought a salon for the second time( 15years apart from 1st purchase salon and sold for a profit) this is with a huge franchise company.. wow.. what a mistake. The relationship is awful.. training and support poor.. BDM only does his job when ass kicked.. lazy staff.. but yet i have invested lots of time and training.. teambuilding events etc.. in a hugely affluent area.. yet we struggle and gave clients negotiating prices.. no concept of the cost of salon. Staff. Overheads. Products. Vat. Tax. Etc. I find this very hard to understand.. as you have mentioned in one of your blogs.. i would never order a meal and negotiate a better price for 3 courses.. its a tougher industry of late and has changed so much.. however i love it still!!! Thank you for your time and loved reading your theories.. they rang true.
    Kind regards
    Donna.. united kingdom

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