Sola Salon Studios hosted its annual Sola Sessions education event, exclusive to its community of Sola suite professionals, on June 18-20th in the heart of downtown Austin, TX. This year’s edition of Sessions took place at the beautiful Hotel Van Zandt and included the ceremony of the first-ever Sola Pro Awards, a new competition for Sola’s network of artists.
Award-winning beauty and barbering industry speakers, as well as professional brands and educators from around the U.S., joined the Sola family in Austin for three days of top-notch education, inspiration, and celebration.
We at MODERN were honored to be invited to experience the event, as well as the strong sense of community between the Sola artists from all over the country. Here are some of our takeaways from our time at Sola Sessions.
The first day of Sola Sessions featured activities exclusive to VIP attendees, featuring motivational talks and exercises with stylist coaches Nina Tulio (@ninatulio) and Dawn Bradley (@dawnbradleyhair), and the VIP party around the pool that evening. The live band, delicious drinks, and upscale appetizers provided by Hotel Van Zandt set the vibe for the excitement in the days to come.
The party also featured a specialty virgin cocktail called the “CAUSE-mopolitan,” the proceeds from which were donated to Beauty Changes Lives.
The main stage was the setting for the second day, where Dawn Bradley played the role of energetic emcee, helping to keep everyone energized and loose throughout the day with stretches and dancing.
World-renowned hairstylist, life coach, and Sessions’ keynote speaker Tabatha Coffey (@tabathacoffey) was warmly received and spoke about courage versus confidence, and how one affects the other.
“Courage asks you to take action,” said Coffey. “You need courage to start, then the confidence will come.”
Barber, community activist, and Andis ambassador John Mosley (@popular_nobody) took the stage to speak about branding and marketing, using his own brand, Popular Nobody, as an example. One major piece of advice from Mosley was to keep logos simple for easy brand recognition and versatility.
Nina Tulio was up next with a talk about reclaiming your value—your personal, internal self-worth. She encouraged the room to scream out loud as a group in the name of healing, letting any insecurities, traumas, and hesitations out of the body. She advised the audience on how to put their needs and desires first, change the way they talk to themselves, and to set standards and non-negotiables for their businesses.
Global Creative Director of Living Proof, Michael Shaun Corby (@michaelshauncorby), had legendary photographer Babak and Hollywood hairstylist Frida Aradottir call in virtually for a panel discussion on photoshoots and on-set styling, in addition to having educator Francesca Rivetti join the conversation in person.
Next was dynamic duo Michael and Ramona Woods (@theramonawoods), the founders of haircare brand Ashtae. The pair dove deep into the importance of “MINE-ing your business,” which means knowing your numbers and effectively managing your finances, but this was no ordinary finance lecture. Michael had the audience in stitches with his humorous antics, interspersed between his and Ramona’s incredibly valuable money and tax tips.
“When there is no GOAL, there is no GOLD,” the couple expressed repeatedly.
Jack Winn, founder of Jack Winn Pro, took the stage to talk about how to make more money in the salon through the power of high-quality retail. Closing out the education for the day was stylist coach Sarai Speer (@theplatinumgiraffe) with a talk on pricing your services and leveling up your business by enhancing your client experience.
SOLA PRO AWARDS
On the evening of day two, attendees dressed in their best and gathered around the main stage, which now had the addition of a fashion show runway. This was the inaugural Sola Pro Awards ceremony, The Best of 20K celebration, where eight Sola professionals who entered the contest would be announced as winners in their respective categories.
We’d like to extend a huge congratulations to the following eight, first-ever Sola Pro Awards winners for their amazing entries:
TEXTURE: Eric Kelley @hairbyerickelley
BLONDES: Jessica Gentle @the.blonde.dimension
EXTENSIONS: Meg Silver @megsilverhair
BARBER CUT: Johnathon Gilyard @theocdbarber
STUDIO DESIGN: Valeria Pasillas @lashvault_co
SKIN: Angie Barraza @angieblushbeauty
NAIL DESIGN: Sara Clark @freaky_fresh_phalanges
TRANSFORMATION: Kimberly Marina @kimberlymarina.hair
Throughout the award ceremony, some fascinating and high-energy hairstyling performances took place on stage. Kimberly Michelle (@thekimberlymichelle), Creative Director of Jack Winn Pro, quickly and expertly created a high-volume 80s shag on her model, who then strutted down the runway.
To close out the evening, Michael Shaun Corby and Francesca Rivetti returned to the stage to cut a few different styles in tandem, even doing a humorous “three updos in three minutes” challenge, which had the audience rolling.
The third day of Sola Sessions was full of breakouts, providing attendees with the opportunity to sit in on a wide range of specific brand classes and product demos they really wanted to see.
For example, OLAPLEX educator Coko Taft (@cokothenatural) dove deep into the science behind the brand’s professional and consumer bond-building products, and demonstrated their use on textured hair.
John Mosley went over some of his signature barbering techniques with Andis tools, a favorite among the attendees.
One panel, moderated by Nina Tulio, featured a talk with some of the Faces of Sola about what they do to enhance their clients’ experiences in and outside of their suites.
Overall, the event was one of camaraderie, celebration, and high-quality education from many of the top professional brands and speakers in the beauty industry. Attendees enjoyed Sola Sessions immensely as new friends and professional relationships were made, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time as well.
And finally, although the event was exclusive to Sola beauty and barbering pros, Sola has chosen to do a giveaway of 10 Sola Sessions swag bags to the MODERN community. Each bag contains $500 worth of professional products, including from Andis, Moroccanoil, Paul Mitchell, Dermaclara, Wella, Living proof, and more. The giveaway is up our our Instagram page at @modernsalon, and 10 winners will be chosen to receive swag bags after the contest ends on the night of Thursday, June 29th, 2023.
For more info on the swag bag giveaway, see the contest post here!
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.