The holiday season is arguably hair stylists’ busiest time of the year. With November and December fully booked with appointments, stylists often see a drop off in January and February with appointments and urgent requests slowing down.

To help you out during this quiet period, we asked a few of Cosmo Prof’s professional team members to share their insights on how to sustain momentum into the new year and use these ‘slower seasons’ to advance in other areas in the industry, such as education and training. Their answers to these questions were diverse and inspired, for stylists both experienced and new, so there’s something for everyone included in their advice. See their responses below:

Members of the Cosmo Prof Professional Team Clockwise from top left: Jocelyn Emberson, Brendnetta Ashley, Carly Zanoni, Stewart Vann 
 -  Courtesy of Cosmo Prof

Members of the Cosmo Prof Professional Team

Clockwise from top left: Jocelyn Emberson, Brendnetta Ashley, Carly Zanoni, Stewart Vann

Courtesy of Cosmo Prof

Q: What are some strategies you’ve found helpful when planning your year in the salon, knowing that November and December are busy months for hair appointments, but January and February tend to be slower?

  • Carly Zanoni (@the.blonde.chronicles): My best advice is to have some express service options for the clients who can’t afford the “big” service but still want to do something. The options are endless but could include extra mini foils to only brighten the most important areas, face frame foil options to only add a pop around the face, wet balayage for brightening dull ends, mini haircut options to clean up only around the face…the list could go on!
  • Jocelyn Emberson (@updos.by.jocelyn): I try to ensure that I am best utilizing my busier times of year by putting some of my income aside to compensate for the slower times of year. During my slower times of year, I try to plan to get things that are on a more flexible timeline scheduled and completed, to free up more free time and availability in my busiest times of year - for example website updates, inventory, tax planning, pre-booking appointments for upcoming clients, bridal trials, etc.
  • Stewart Vann (@stew.stylez): First off, I like to get ahead of the game. I specialize in custom color, and 99% of my clients receive foil work, so I start promoting “after-holiday hair” refreshes and retouches during the busy months towards the end of the year to my clientele. Communicating with my clients during the end-of-year rush that their next appointment in the beginning of the year can be focused more on budget-friendly services such as global glossing or face framing services that are shorter appointments and less expensive as their budget recovers from the expensive holiday season is crucial for maintaining my books. It’s a win-win of working around the financial stress of the holidays plus, it helps keep things steady during the quieter months.
    • When things calm down in January and February, I take that time to get creative. I attend industry events, workshops, and classes to stay on top of the latest trends and techniques. It keeps me inspired and ready to bring fresh ideas to my clients when things pick up again. Of course, I can’t forget about social media. It’s a game-changer! I stay active online, sharing before-and-after transformations, styling tips, and behind-the-scenes peeks. It helps me stay connected with my current clients and attract new ones who are looking for a change in the new year.
  • Brendnetta Ashley (@edgybgirl): The best advice I can give is always have your clients prebook. This signals them to know that your schedule fills up quickly so they don’t want to miss an opportunity of getting back on your schedule.

Q: How do you typically spend your downtime? Are there any educational advancement opportunities you’ve been able to pursue during slower seasons? Are there any classes/training you’d recommend to new stylists just getting their feet wet?

  • Carly Zanoni (@the.blonde.chronicles): If I’m being totally honest, I actually spend small amounts of downtime scrolling social media! But it’s not mindless scrolling. I’ll just scroll through the reels tab on IG or the For You Page on TikTok and save any post that gives me an idea for content to post. If I was a brand new stylist, I would spend bigger chunks of downtown consuming education videos or creating swatches with my color line so I could understand it better.
  • Jocelyn Emberson (@updos.by.jocelyn): I love using my downtime to focus on some of my personal goals, spend extra quality time with family and friends, and to reignite the passion behind what I do! During my busy season, it is easy to feel uninspired and burnt out, so I try to spend my downtime wisely by taking new classes, and practicing new techniques to get re-inspired.
  • Stewart Vann (@stew.stylez): Downtime? That’s a rare gem in the hairstyling world on most days behind the chair! When I have some free time, I like to use it wisely by investing in my own growth and education. During slower seasons, I take the opportunity to expand my skills and knowledge through different educational opportunities. I encourage new stylists to find mentorship opportunities, and I find this is the busiest time of year for the education I offer. Connecting with an experienced hairstylist who’s willing to guide and share their knowledge is priceless. Apprenticeships or shadowing seasoned professionals can provide hands-on experience and a deeper understanding of the industry.
  • Brendnetta Ashley (@edgybgirl): I plan at least 4 training courses for the year. One on how to grow my business, how to expand in an area I enjoy doing in the salon, a color class, and a cutting class.

Q: What advice would you give stylists managing a busy December filled to the brim with pre-holiday appointments, and how can they best take advantage of this time knowing Jan/Feb might see a drop-off?

  • Carly Zanoni (@the.blonde.chronicles): My best advice would be to offer an incentive for clients to book a gloss or “in between” service in January or February. This would be some sort of mini appointment in between their “big” December and March/April appointments.
  • Jocelyn Emberson (@updos.by.jocelyn): During my busiest times of year, it is very helpful for me to schedule in time for myself each day. Whether I use this time to go for a walk, or do some reading, workout, go get a coffee or just sit down for a little bit, this little bit of planned time for me helps me keep my sanity when I have a packed schedule.
  • Stewart Vann (@stew.stylez): First and foremost, organization is key. With a packed schedule, it’s crucial to stay on top of your appointments and manage your time effectively. Make sure to have a reliable booking system in place to keep track of your clients and their preferences. This will help you stay organized and provide a seamless experience for your clients. Communication is essential. Be proactive in reaching out to your clients to confirm their appointments and remind them of any pre-appointment instructions. This will help minimize no-shows and ensure that your schedule stays on track.
    • Now, let’s talk about taking advantage of this busy time. December is a golden opportunity to build strong relationships with your clients. Focus on providing one-of-a-kind exceptional service and creating a memorable experience for each person who sits in your chair. STAND OUT!!!
    • Lastly, use this time to gather feedback and testimonials from your clients. Ask for their thoughts on their experience and if they would be willing to provide a testimonial or review. Positive reviews and testimonials can be powerful marketing tools to attract new clients in the slower months of January and February.
  • Brendnetta Ashley (@edgybgirl): If you aren’t using social media this is the perfect time. Show off your work, post your availability in your stories, use hashtags. Social media works while we sleep so your slow time can be more consistent in no time!

Q: What is your #1 tip for managing holiday burnout - what can stylists do in the slower months to ensure their creativity continues to shine?

  • Carly Zanoni (@the.blonde.chronicles): Don't overdo it. I’ve been in the position where I take on so many additional appointments and work so many extra hours and ultimately I feel so drained and exhausted that my clients really aren’t getting my best work. Encourage clients to start thinking about the holiday appointments many months in advance and begin planning for it early.
  • Jocelyn Emberson (@updos.by.jocelyn): Make sure that you take enough time for you, your family, and what’s important to you. Set a schedule of the most you are willing to do, and stick to it. My number one tip of how to stay inspired in the slower months is to plan time into your week each week to learn something new.
  • Stewart Vann (@stew.stylez): Burnout is like a bad hair day that lasts for weeks… It’s when your creativity needs a vacation but your schedule won’t allow it. It’s definitely a real thing in the hairstyling world! My number one tip for managing it is all about self-care. Another great way to keep the juices flowing is by seeking inspiration outside of the salon. Attend industry events, take classes online or in-person, or even visit art exhibits. Surrounding yourself with different forms of creativity can help fuel your own artistic vision and passion.
  • Brendnetta Ashley (@edgybgirl): Burnout is so real and serious. To stay consistent, allow yourself a “no hair day, one day out of the week to do nothing hair related. This allows you time to reset.

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