J. Roberts Salon @jrobertssalonva focuses on one thing – an exceptional salon experience.  Yet, their business model is quite unique.  They are a hybrid salon of commission-based employees with the opportunity to grow into independent stylists and rent a studio on-site; stylists evolve and gain autonomy while still being part of a community, and in turn, the salon rents to stylists that are well-trained and already vested in the salon culture.

Housed in a historic building in the heart of downtown Roanoke, Virginia, the salon is designed with employee-based stylists working in the center surrounded by 8 private studios.  Owner Jim Roberts explains, “Our dream was to create a salon where stylists can thrive, grow and share in a professional team environment, while still expressing individuality and embracing innovative changes in the salon industry and their career.” 

The business model involves hiring stylists right out of beauty school.  “We train them, so when they become independent and rent a studio, they’re already vested in the salon culture. It’s a great way to promote growth within the team without losing stylists to outside sources…and it fosters a team environment which can be a challenge for many booth renters,” adds Roberts.

J Roberts Salon encourages their stylists to learn the skills they need to ultimately go out on...

J Roberts Salon encourages their stylists to learn the skills they need to ultimately go out on their own. 

Photography: Jennifer Hayward www.JenniferHaywardco.com

What entices an employee-based stylist to want to become self-employed? 

The amazing benefits offered with each studio include...

  • Being an entrepreneur and managing one’s own time.
  • Natural light from large windows and great visibility from the street.
  • Scheduling assistance via the J. Robert’s Salon Rosy software.
  • Access to Snap Snip – pre-appointment virtual consultation software where guests take 3 photos and the stylist recommends the proper services, time and cost, creating a more positive experience for both the guest and stylist.
  • The Freestylist – a counter-balancing system that suspends blow dryers above the chair rendering them weightless and eliminating cords.  The employee-based chairs have regular blow dryers.
  • Option to offer guests spirits, the salon has an Alcoholic Beverage Control license.
  • Wifi, private refrigerator, central vacuum system and ample storage space.
  • Ability to choose one’s own music.
  • Lockable door.
  • Independence backed by a community.
Inside J Roberts Salon

Inside J Roberts Salon

Photography: Jennifer Hayward www.JenniferHaywardco.com

“People in cars regularly spot the Freestylist and literally roll down their windows and take pictures!  New guests think the hanging dryers are just eye candy and are blown away when they see us use it to dry their hair!” says Roberts.  “It’s a major WOW factor for the studios.”

The industry has changed greatly in the past 3 years and many salons are challenged with trying to hold on to staff.  “Our hybrid model allows us to embrace younger stylists out of school, as well as offer them a viable option for advancing their career once they’re experienced enough to want to take the next step.  Our goal is to keep each stylist for as long as possible!” he concludes.

Freestyle Systems provides weightless, patented, health-conscious blow drying solutions for salons and spas.  Their products elevate décor, aesthetics and function, as well as provide health-first solutions to problems that can threaten stylists’ careers and impact the air quality in the salon.  The Freestylist is the world's first and only weightless blow drying system available with a vented platform to remove harmful air particles.  Thousands of stylists rely on it to reduce repetitive stress injuries, eliminate cord tangles and optimize blow drying efficiency for longer healthier careers.  Available now with a vented platform featuring a quiet 250 CFM fan to purify air and expel chemicals, allergens and odors from services such as color, perms and keratin treatments. 

Learn more at JRobertsSalon.com 


For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.

Read more about