Salon owner, educator, colorist, photographer, manicurist, eyelash extensionist—Ann Marie Walts’ resume is jam-packed. But of all of the areas of the beauty business that she has had a hand in, Walts says her career really began when she started doing hair extensions.
“Seven years ago I wanted something more out of my career. I wanted to be able to offer something different that would increase my income,” she says. “Once I completed an extensions class by Great Lengths, I became a fanatic.”
Many stylists, no matter how many areas of beauty they feel they have mastered, often find themselves in a similar rut, artistically or financially, with their current business and begin seeking out the next big niche to pursue in their work. Adding extension services to your menu can increase your daily business of $30-$80 cuts to $1,000, even $1,500 a day working on just one client.
One of the crucial first steps in learning how to successfully create extensions, Walts says, is to develop a careful eye for the type of hair—and client—that are right for the job. Is the hair overprocessed? Has the client used clip-in extensions excessively? All things to consider and evaluate during an extensions consultation, she says.
“We have a huge obligation to the public to provide a safe service for them, and a young stylist needs to know when to decline a service,” says Walts. “I had a mother and daughter come into my salon, and I had to decline service to both of them. The mother had severely overprocessed hair and the daughter used clip-in extensions so much that it created a bald spot on her head.”
In these situations, instead of turning away clients whose hair isn’t in an ideal condition for extensions, Walts will prescribe repair and reconstruction products to set them on the right path to a healthy hair care regimen—which could line up the clients for extensions work down the road without burning any bridges.
“If you come across a situation like this, always say the words ‘In my professional opinion...’ You will sound more diplomatic,” she says.
Walts says when she has a client who wants new hair extensions, the client will first fill out a consultation packet, which has a questionnaire of 20 to 30 questions. She shows the client several before-and-after photos and asks questions like:
• “What do you not like about your hair?”
• “How long does it take you to get ready?”
• “How long do you style your hair?”
• “If you have natural or wavy hair have you ever had a straightening treatment?”