Partner. “Align yourself with a product line that has high-performance products that cater to textured hair,” advises Ruiz. Curtis says she partners with brands that “really care about the integrity of the hair. And I love companies that offer education.” Curlies have tried so many products that they’re less forgiving, observes Della Grazia. “They’ll use something once,” he notes, “and if they don’t get what they want out of it—bang, it’s gone.” Christo agrees. “Curly-haired clients are more demanding than clients with straight hair,” he says. “They come in with a lot of questions, and the stylist must know the answers. At least two or three stylists in the salon should learn everything about the line and be able to teach clients how to use the products to control frizz and style their hair.” Product knowledge strengthens your relationship with the client, says Hill. “At their next appointment, clients will say, ‘You were right—using the leave-in conditioner when I go swimming does keep my hair from drying out.’ The client learns to trust you.”
Question. And listen! The consultation is your time to shine. But before you give information, get some from the client. Hill says, “When texture clients complain about their hair, we ask them, ‘Why do you hate your curls?’ Most of them either aren’t using the right products, or else their hair used to be relaxed and now that their hair is natural they have to relearn how to manage it.” It’s also important to inquire about the client’s routine. “I ask clients how long they are willing to spend on their hair,” says Willhite. “I’m not going to show them a 30-minute styling process if they prefer to spend only 15 minutes. If I can’t give them exactly what they want, I find out what they really love about their hair and incorporate that into a look they’ll like.”
Reward, refer, rebook. Implementing reward, referral and rebooking systems will deliver two more R’s: recruiting and retention. Your business strategies that work for building any clientele are even more crucial to attracting and keeping curly clients, who have a complicated history with salons. Reward them with one complimentary service for every 10 paid services and again if they send you new clients. Toward the end of every visit, remember to say, “To maintain your style, I’ll need to see you in six weeks.” These systems work. Use them consistently, and you will watch your numbers climb.
Sample. Clients with thick, dense, textured hair can go through bottles of product in no time. And because they’re more open to trying new products than straight-haired clients are, many end up with drawers full of barely used products. Give them a break and hand out shampoo, conditioner and styling gel minis. “Getting free product is always appreciated!” confirms Cress, adding that even with a free sample it’s important to provide full instructions in the proper use so that the product works and they’ll come back to purchase the full size.
Tote the tools. Keeping your station stocked with big clips, wide-tooth combs and diffusers shows curlies that you understand their texture. “On textured hair, you don’t want to use a brush or comb with a lot of teeth or anything that breaks up and expands the curl,” Willhite cautions. Retailing the tools you use helps the client to recreate the look at home. “Clients may tell you that they use a sock over their hair dryer and then complain that they still have frizz,” says Willhite, “but a sock is probably not going to diminish their frizz! And if a client with straighter hair is trying to tease out curl, a sock will not give her the curl she wants. Both clients need to use a diffuser. Give the textured client a diffuser with teeth to help the curl formation and with walls around the edges to keep air from blowing out the sides and causing frizz.”