Whether you’re a new stylist looking to start your career or an experienced stylist looking for a change, the culture and environment of the salon you choose—or choose to move to—can make all the difference for future success and overall work-life satisfaction, too.
According to salon industry leaders, educators and working stylists who shared that they have thriving salon lives, there are three important factors to consider before making a salon move. Here are a few things you should keep in mind as you search for a salon that celebrates and embraces you:
1. Career support – Does the salon prioritize your growth? Do they have ongoing education and training available? Are they focused on you as an individual with unique aspirations and goals?
2. Flexibility – How much flexibility do you, as a stylist, have in the salon? Can you create a schedule that fits your lifestyle?
3. Teamwork – Does the salon staff work as a team toward a collective goal? Is everyone working independently or are they relying on and supporting each other to learn more, earn more, and achieve more?
Read on to learn where thousands of successful, happy stylists have found truly great salon homes that tick all three of those boxes—support, flexibility and teamwork—with opportunities to become masters of their craft.
Stylist to Stylist: Goals and Support on Your Journey
Most stylists' goals evolve and change over time. They need a salon family and system that supports them from the beginning and grows with them, too.
The Texture Expert: Building on Experience
Astoria Stubbs is a stylist with 15 years of industry experience and expertise in cutting highly textured and curly hair. When she first started working, her main career goal was to eventually become an educator.
After seven years of working in other salons, she joined a franchisee-owned Great Clips salon in the Houston area in 2013. With built-in benefits, Stubbs found it easy to establish her base clientele.
"I have worked in full service and boutique salons, and the biggest difference I found after joining a Great Clips salon is that customers are waiting for you on your first day," Stubbs says. “You don’t have to worry about going out to find customers – you can start earning from day one."
With her career established and growing, Stubbs focused and evolved through a vibrant education program, and earned a spot on the Great Clips, Inc. Design Team Masters in 2018.
"I had just become a recruiter for my Great Clips franchisee in the Houston market helping to build the brand locally, when my team lead recommended me for the national-level role, and the rest is history," she says. "My Great Clips salon owner gave me room to grow and the opportunity to build my career."
Great Clips salons are independently owned and operated by independent, local franchisee salon owners. Design Team Masters is a nationwide brand ambassador program sponsored by Great Clips, Inc. – the owner and franchisor of the Great Clips brand.
Stubbs credits becoming a Design Team Master with providing the confidence boost to "believe I was capable of great things." Now Stubbs' goal is to become a Great Clips franchisee and own her own Great Clips salon.
"Everyone I have worked with has supported that dream," she says. "They introduced me to other franchisees and gave me advice on where to start and how to grow. I feel encouraged to meet my goals."
The New Stylist: Growing from the Beginning
Alexis Safranek had a different journey from Stubbs, but similarly strong, confidence-boosting results. A newer stylist, she’s grateful that she was able to find solid footing early in her career when she had little experience working with hair. Safranek joined her Great Clips franchised salon in Butler, Pennsylvania in 2016, at age 19, after she had tried a couple of other salons.
"When I started, I was just excited to have a job in the hair industry so I could support my daughter and myself," she says. "After working for my franchisee at her Great Clips salon, I quickly realized that I wasn’t `stuck' being a stylist but that I could turn it into my career. That’s when I set my sights on education."
Safranek took advantage of access to a steady stream of clients and abundant Great Clips. Inc. educational resources. She soon developed her craft to specialize in fading, fine detailing and shaping hair.
Three short years later, Safranek, like the veteran Stubbs, joined the Great Clips, Inc. Design Team Masters. She describes meeting this career goal as "an amazing opportunity to represent stylists and the Great Clips brand everywhere," and as her best achievement to-date. And the growth keeps coming.
"The COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 but couldn’t keep us down," she says. "And this year my franchisee promoted me to assistant manager-in-training while continuing to be part of the Design Team Masters. My manager has been my best cheerleader through all of my career growth and success."
Flexibility is important to most stylists and workers in general. With different situations and motivations, both Stubbs and Safranek say they and their peers have found the options they need.
"With the hours that Great Clips salons are open, stylists have the flexibility to work and still have a life outside of work," Stubbs says. "I personally enjoy working the weekends when most customers are in the salon. That way, I can have weekdays to get other things done."
Flexibility is personal – it’s all about how you define it for yourself, adds Safranek. She shared that stylists can find flexibility at a franchised Great Clips salon in a number of ways—from picking a position as a full-time or part-time stylist, choosing a work schedule and covering occasional shifts.
Stubbs says it all works because there is a good balance between driving your career and getting great encouragement from her franchisee and salon management.
"I’m grateful to be part of a team that wants to see everyone grow," she says. "My manager and I have a great working relationship – I provide my availability well in advance and we work as a team to make sure we cover each other’s schedules if anything unexpected happens. It’s really about the team working together."
Even as a new stylist, Safranek enjoyed the same options. "I get to choose my availability for work and, if I have something that needs to be worked around, with a proper heads-up it usually is honored," she says. "My franchisee and salon manager encourage strong and open communication. Communication ensures that everyone is on the same page."
Both stylists agree that independence goes hand-in-hand with what most beauty pros value, and they are grateful they have found a home that supports both personal needs and passion. And they appreciate how they have seen these values modeled by their franchisees.
"I think most stylists are fiercely independent and creative, which is probably why we chose this profession," Stubbs says. "You might think that, because Great Clips salons focus on cutting and not color, there’s less creativity – but it’s the opposite. As a stylist working at a Great Clips salon, you can have flexibility, be independent and creative, with a supportive team too.”
"My boss is an awesome mother to four children and an amazing woman who manages five salons while still giving everyone personal support," Safranek says. "She’s truly a superhero. She believes in her salon and has a heart of gold. She will always be the perfect definition of a leader to me and the absolute best definition of the stylisthood."
Finding Your Fit: Salon Culture
As with any profession or workplace, stylists want to like and enjoy the people with whom they work.
"In every Great Clips salon that I’ve worked in, I’ve always felt a part of a team," Stubbs says. "We all work together to create a culture in the salon where everyone is supported and feels valued."
Safranek agrees. "The salon atmosphere is positive, upbeat, and non-competitive. There’s no “me” – it’s always `ours.' It feels really good to know others have your back!”
But how can stylists be sure they are finding the right fit? Stubbs recommends stylists secretly "shop" any salon they’re interested in and make sure it’s an environment in which they would feel comfortable.
"I’ve been a floating stylist for my franchisee, and the vibe is different at each location," she explains. “It's important to find the one that best suits you.”
"Each Great Clips salon is unique, and that’s why it’s important for stylists to interview at more than one location. Also, remember to ask questions about areas that are important to you, such as training opportunities."
Education Builds Teamwork
And education is key. Stylists working for a franchised Great Clips salon have education opportunities available in many ways, says Safranek, "through Great Clips University online, through Great Clips, Inc. education specialists at local training centers, and from one another. It’s amazing to see how stylists bond while learning together."
Great Clips University is an online education platform provided by Great Clips, Inc. that provides courses and resources on cutting techniques, leadership development and so much more. "Having this at our fingertips helps everyone level up," agrees Stubbs.
And going to the next level—to be part of a local design team or the Design Team Masters program—has been a difference maker that extends throughout the Great Clips salon community.
"Being a part of Design Team Masters means I get to show how great the Great Clips brand really is to a bigger audience," Stubbs says. "It fuels my role in the salon because, when I learn new things, I get to come back and teach my team, so we all get to grow together, and that makes us great together."
"Being a Design Team Master means I am able to represent something I believe in while sharing my love for my career," echoes Safranek. "I like to think that, when other stylists are around me, I’m able to rub off that same positive energy to them so they can continue to pass it along."
Going Beyond: The Great Clips Difference
Stubbs says the positive impact goes even further. In her experience, the independent franchisee owners who own and operate Great Clips salons encourage their teams to:
- work hard and have fun
- support and celebrate each other's successes
- build friendships as well as careers
- innovate to be the industry leader
- give back by doing good things in their communities.
"While working for my franchisee at her Great Clips salon, I have seen how much everyone cares about community," she says. "Living in Houston, we often get hurricanes, but Hurricane Harvey was the worst I had experienced. And through the Great Clips Stylist Assistance Fund, we received gift cards and help at a time where we couldn’t get into work and make money."
That kind of commitment to helping others can motivate a stylist to recharge or reinvent their career, says Safranek. Even stylists who feel a little lost should consider interviewing at their local franchised Great Clips salon,” she says. "It's not just work, but education and personal growth, too."
To any stylist in any stage of their careers, Stubbs would say that working at a franchised Great Clips salon is a great place to start a new phase: "The education and support you need to grow to your fullest potential are provided for you."
Great Clips, Inc. is the national franchisor for the Great Clips® brand. While Great Clips, Inc. owns the brand, each Great Clips® salon is independently owned and operated by a third party franchisee. Each franchisee, not Great Clips, Inc., is responsible for all hiring and personnel matters at their individual salon.
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