<p>Understand your career path options, from commission salon, booth rental to salon suites like Sola Salon Studios.  Learn why 20,000+ beauty pros have said yes to the Sola difference.</p>
Understand your career path options, from commission salon, booth rental to salon suites like Sola Salon Studios.  Learn why 20,000+ beauty pros have said yes to the Sola difference.

Fresh starts are exciting. Whether you are starting your career or considering a new chapter, you have decisions to make, options to explore. No need to feel overwhelmed! Whatever your path—stylist, barber, esthetician, nails artist, extensions, lashes, educator, or some other creative blend that fits your vision of your beauty future—the right career home is within reach.


At Sola, you’re in business for yourself, but never by yourself. And with an industry-leading Sola suite community of 20,000+ beauty professionals across more than 700 locations nationwide and in Canada, Sola has plenty of information, resources, and proven success stories to share.

In this MODERN SALON Career Center article, Sola experts compare salon business and compensation models to help you craft your personal career pros and cons lists. Sola also bridges the most popular and trusted process for decision-making in the pro beauty world—peer to peer conversation and exchange of ideas.

Hear from seven of the Faces of Sola ambassadors. Each shares their journey and expertise on why renting a Sola salon studio was ultimately the right choice for them. Each stood in exactly the same spot you are. They represent the diverse community of artists, expertise and experiences that thrive in the Sola community.

Scroll down to meet Faces of Sola Stacey Heintzman, Ryan Sanger, Kayla Orth, Chloe Calley, Kimberly Loomis, Steven Wren and Jaime Castenada. They speak from the heart and with bottom-line sensibility about their experiences in:

  • Earning Potential and Specialized Services (examples: holistic esthetics and extensions)
  • Moving from Salon to Suite (both booth rental and commission transitions)
  • Design and the Customized Salon Experience (sustainability)
  • Barbering Today (two different perspectives)


But first, let’s review the one thing that has become even more obvious in recent years:  Salon suites offer numerous advantages for beauty professionals compared to booth rental or commissioned salons. Drill further into six of those advantages, as you compare the salon suite model to traditional booth rental and commission options, then weigh your personal preferences and ambitions:

1. Independence and Flexibility: Salon suites provide beauty pros with the freedom to operate their own business independently. You have the flexibility to set your own schedule, choose your own services and prices, and manage your clients according to your preferences. This level of autonomy allows you to showcase your unique style and creativity and build the business you envisioned.

2. Personalized Space: Unlike booth rental or commissioned salons, where you typically share a common area with other stylists or pros, salon suites provide you with your own dedicated space. This means you can create a personalized and inviting environment for your clients, reflecting your own brand and aesthetic. You have the freedom to decorate and customize your suite to your liking, making it a comfortable and welcoming space for both you and your clients. 

3. Increased Privacy: Salon suites offer a more intimate setting, ensuring a higher level of privacy for both you and your clients. This allows for a more personalized experience, where you can give your clients your undivided attention without distractions. Enhanced privacy can foster a stronger client-stylist relationship, leading to increased client satisfaction and loyalty. At Sola there are floor to ceiling walls for extra privacy and oversized sliding doors that lock—you have the key.  

4. Enhanced Professionalism: Operating from a salon suite can elevate your professional image. It demonstrates that you are a dedicated and committed beauty pro who has invested in your own business. This can attract clients who appreciate the attention to detail and professionalism associated with an independent stylist, barber, esthetician or service specialist. At Sola, we have a strong community of over 20,000 thriving independent beauty professionals.

5. Increased Earnings: Salon suites operate on a rental basis, which means you keep all the profits from your services. Unlike commissioned salons, where a portion of your earnings goes to the salon owner, salon suites allow you to maximize your income potential. Additional income and earnings boosting benefits include.

  • Freedom to Set Prices: In a salon suite, you have the freedom to set your own prices for services. This means you can determine the value of your expertise and adjust your prices accordingly. You can consider factors such as your skills, experience, market demand, and the quality of your services. By setting competitive prices, you can attract clients and increase your overall earnings.
  • Retail Opportunities: As an independent beauty professional you can curate retail offerings for your clients that align with the brand you are building. As the suite owner you will earn 100% of the retail profits vs. the industry standard of a max 20% at traditional salons. This had the potential to increase your income by thousands monthy.
  • Cost Control: Salon suites operate on a rental basis, where you pay a fixed fee for the space. This allows you to have better control over your expenses compared to booth rental or commissioned salons. With a salon suite, you won't have surprises like unexpected commission deductions. This stability in costs allows you to plan and budget more effectively, contributing to your overall financial well-being.
  • Potential for Increased Client Base: Operating from a salon suite can give you the opportunity to attract a larger client base. Clients often appreciate the privacy, personalized experience, and professionalism associated with independent stylists. Satisfied clients are more likely to refer their friends and family to your salon suite, potentially leading to a steady stream of new clients. A growing client base means more appointments and increased earnings.
  • Tax Benefits: When you operate your own salon suite, you may be eligible for certain tax benefits. Consult with a tax professional to understand the deductions and write-offs you can claim as a self-employed individual. These tax advantages can help reduce your overall tax liability and increase your net income.

6. Networking Opportunities: While you have your own private space in a salon suite, you are often surrounded by other independent beauty professionals. This creates a supportive and collaborative environment where you can network, share ideas, and potentially refer clients to one another. Building relationships with other professionals in the industry can lead to opportunities for growth and collaboration. There is no drama like at a traditional or booth rental salons, as pros are not fighting over clients or commissions. There is a supportive community of over 20,000 beauty professionals at Sola which you can engage with as much or little as you would like.




  • Restricted hours based on salon owner’s hours of operation
  • No control over salon vibe (music, décor, branding, smell, etc.)
  • Cleanliness of salon and other chair renters’ stations out of your control
  • Drama and gossip common among other professionals
  • Reputation of salon based on other professionals out of your control
  • Limited space to store/display retail products
  • Responsible for finding your own technology and marketing tools
  • Education provided at salon owner’s discretion
  • 24-hour access to your salon
  • Full control over salon vibe (music, décor, branding, smell, etc.)
  • Full control over the cleanliness of your studio with managers to ensure common areas are well-kept
  • Drama-free space. Close the door for privacy and focus on your clients.
  • You are responsible for the reputation of your business.
  • Ample space to store and display retail products.
  • Marketing and business support.
  • Sola exclusive deals and resources on salon management software, retail purchasing, insurance and more.
  • Sola-exclusive live and online events, plus webinars, podcasts and more on Sola website, SolaPro app and more.


Learn more about the Sola story and the Sola difference at solasalons.com.


Overall, salon suites or studios offer beauty professionals a unique combination of independence, creativity, and financial benefits that you won’t find at traditional or booth rental salons. They provide a platform for you to showcase your skills, build your brand, and create a personalized experience for your clients.

At Sola, we do all we can to ensure you are comfortable launching into independence. All you need to get started are your licensed expertise, your tools and a dream. Sola can provide a structure, foundation, and community to build upon.


To help you reach your career decision, meet a few of the 20,000 beauty professionals working their dreams today by renting suites from Sola franchisees across the country.

Learn from and be inspired by their career journeys as you plot your own. Learn even more by visiting a local Sola Salon Studios location. Reach out to the local Sola leasing manager about a confidential tour, leasing options, additional info, and support. Visit the space and see who your neighbors could be. Talk to them or, better yet, book a service or two from different providers and ask about their experiences, their decisions, their personal answers to “why Sola.”

To learn more, visit solasalons.com, follow Sola and download the free guide to Going Independent here.



Gingery Esthetic in Phoenix, AZ
2 years with Sola; esthetician since 2007

Services: integrative skincare, micro needling, lash services, brow services 

Specialty: “My whole-body approach to skincare sets my business apart. I feel like a detective asking a client about their skin. We go deep into their lifestyle, including work, stress and routines.”

My journey
I’ve been an esthetician since 2007. I worked in inside sales and doing demonstrations for a skin care brand, then decided to get back into hands-on services. I was at a lash extensions salon as a 1099 employee before I moved to Arizona and opened my own holistic services business inside Sola.

What changed when you moved to a Sola salon studio? 
“I was able to work within the parameters that I chose. I wasn’t stuck within certain days of the week or business hours. I set my own boundaries. Gross sales surged 28%.”

Biggest surprise after moving to Sola?  
“I was getting new business just by Google searches optimized through Sola. Turns out a lot of people love supporting small businesses. At Sola, I can offer the privacy of a suite, a one-on-one experience, a customized, detailed, client-focused experience.” 

My niche
“Not every client is for me. I defined my niche as holistic and integrative skin care and began using those words across my platforms, in my messaging and services menu. It became easier to target my audience, and by describing my niche, Sola helps clients find me.”

Networking and referrals
“When I first moved into Sola, I had a mediocre client list. I went around to all my neighboring Sola owners and introduced myself. I learned about them, their clientele, then offered discounted or bundled services. I met hairstylists in the building who similar beliefs and philosophies, who use natural or organic hair care, for instance, and we’ve helped each other build business. Referrals happened naturally and grew exponentially. I even refer to other estheticians in the building when I have a client who I can’t help, or can’t squeeze in. I also compliment people with good skin and lashes everywhere I go, telling them proudly what I do and where my business is located, inside Sola. As a as holistic esthetician, I believe connection is a full body experience.”

Growing my business
“Referrals are important, but I know I can always make more money with current clients than I will acquiring new ones. I capitalize on upselling and adding express services like derma blading.

Numbers and metrics
I’m a single mom. I have no choice but to succeed. While I don’t love numbers, I’m not afraid of them. Numbers are just data that have helped me get to another level. I review and compare them weekly. The support and tools from Sola help.”



Hair Lingerie: The Studio 
Century City, CA

2 years with Sola

Services: Luxury Hair Extensions, limited hair color; assistant does cuts and color

Specialty: Creating extremely natural looking hair extension transformations. 

What changed when I moved my business into a Sola salon studio?
“I was in complete control of my client experience and environment. I dramatically increased my income and revenue while decreasing hours worked behind the chair. I made over $250,000 in my first year in extensions alone.”

What surprised me most?
“It was not as complicated as I’d expected to go independent and open my own business. Everything flowed, seamlessly, thanks to all Sola provides. I received a packet of tools and checklists when I signed my lease, and the education and idea sharing streams nonstop.”

My journey
“I started in the industry more than 10 years ago, at age 17 in Northhampton, MA, then moved to Boston, doing everything from hair and makeup for a theatre company to hair services for high-end salons on Newberry Street. I relocated to Los Angeles and worked in Beverly Hills, rebuilding my book from scratch at a traditional, multi-chair salon. That’s where I first got into luxury extensions and saw that people who specialized were making more money. “

Acting on the AHA moment
“I leaned into learning extensions, researched the business and profitability of extensions, and started branding myself as an extensions specialist on social media. My goal at the time was to open and specialize within my own 10-chair salon. Then COVID hit, followed by a lasting shift in consumer preferences. I realized I didn’t need crazy square footage to be successful and profitable. I wanted to create an intimate, one-on-one client experience—and discovered people would pay more for it. I found Sola to be my perfect fit.”

What was the most important factor to growing your business?
“I found a business mentor. Seven years ago, the creator of the extensions brand I now specialize in seven years ago was seeing a handful of clients at the Beverly Hills salon I started. What started as informal curiosity morphed into my assisting her regularly, and ultimately shifted to a formal coaching and mentoring structure with so many scheduled calls per month. We still meet regularly online now. I am paying it forward with my own assistant inside my 2-chair Sola space. He learns the extensions business from me and does all cutting, styling and most color for clients as well.”

The smartest thing I’ve done for my business is:
“I’m constantly thinking ahead and planning to reinvest into my salon environment and experience. I’m always bringing a fresh energy to my clients, something that having a suite at Sola allows me to do—to rebrand or refresh my décor, my services to my vision, at any time. I aim to expand to a triple soon and I am always looking for new ways to improve and grow.”



Hair by Kayla Orth
West Palm Beach, FL
8 years with Sola

Services: Hair color and invisible bead extensions

Secret sauce: No double booking

Career journey
“I started in the industry as a shampoo assistant in high school, graduated with my license, then sat for state boards in 2009. Then I worked in two salons—one for five years, the second for 10 months, after the owners sold the salon abruptly. The customer service was so terrible I had to leave and find something fast. That’s when I discovered Sola.”

Biggest adjustment, moving from salon to studio
“I went from being in a salon that had a receptionist, assistants, and owner-managers who handled all the backend of the business to becoming the CFO, CEO, accountant, inventory specialist, doing it all. Another stylist and I joined Sola as business partners, leased a double studio, and suddenly we were responsible for all aspects of running our business. We could handle the talent part of it, but not knowing those less sexy details, like how to file quarterly taxes and sales tax, that was a huge adjustment. We didn’t know what we didn’t know.”

Support matters
“Fortunately, Sola helped us. When I first went to Sola with a partner and we met with the owner of our Sola franchise, she gave us a Sola binder full of resources, including how to fill out county, city and state taxes. Having that binder with all those tools was invaluable. I learned where to get help where I couldn’t find it on my own. And the Sola website (solasalonstudios.com) and Sola Pro app keep evolving, with so much education and information. I’m constantly connected with experts and with other people who are in my same situation.”

Changing again
“As we grew our business, we grew with Sola, moving our double studio into a new location our Sola franchise owner opened. After five years of working together, business was great. We constantly had six people in our double studio, and we were excited to be part of a new build and choose our suite from a blueprint. We moved in early 2020, then COVID hit. After the shutdown, I started my business over completely as a single studio. It was a professional, not personal decision, and ended up being perfect for me and my business journey. Creating truly personal service, providing my own environment for my guests, making sure it’s all about them, has made a difference. To this day, I still don’t double-book.” 

Professional life
“Moving into a studio pushed me to get comfortable being uncomfortable.  I learned I can always learn new things and grow my business. I learned the value of investing in myself and had the freedom and flexibility to do so. My work-life balance is better. I’m doing it all, but all for myself.”

Personal life
“I have financial freedom. I work three days a week and don’t double-book. I homeschool my five-year-old son. I can enjoy life and choose when to turn my business focus off. My family enjoys seeing a less stressed-out Kayla. I have more control of my situation.”



Mercedes Brynn Hair + Co
Brighton, Michigan
2 years with Sola

Services: Color, cuts, and extensions

My journey:
“Even before I went to cosmetology school, I knew I wanted to own my own business and rent a studio at Sola. I was a first-time client at a Sola studio when I was 17. It was such a good fit for me, someone who struggled with anxiety, to be in a private room with a controlled atmosphere and less intimidating environment.

“When I later enrolled at Paul Mitchell the School, I met a lot of friends who now own Sola-based businesses all through Michigan, who were thriving and happy. So, Sola remained my goal, but after earning my license, to build my book and get established, I went straight from assisting to renting at a booth rental salon where I’d worked during school. It was a smaller salon with eight chairs, very tight space and unique. I was transparent with my goal and learned a lot from very supportive owners. After about 8 months assisting and another 9 months renting there, I made the move to Sola.”

Biggest adjustment
“Even though I went from chair rental to suite rental, there were still big changes involved with being fully on my own. I was in total charge of my own books and schedule. In a more traditional salon environment, walk-ins are the best way to build a book. That went away, at the same time my overhead and rent went up. But it was totally worth it, and the right thing for me. It was surprising and validating that my clients loved the transition to suite life as much as I did. I was driven to grow and work harder to evolve myself and my business.” 

Sola support
“I love and take advantage of all the free education through the Sola Pro app, everything from the step-by-step techniques to the all the podcasts and webinars on business management.”

Customizing the space
“I love that I can change what I need to suit me and my guests—from beverages and music to environment and the vibe in general. The theme is boho with a western twist. Think camel- colored chairs and a big steer skull. I also share the suite with another stylist. Our Sola franchise owner has all the contract details and paperwork to manage and make that easy.”

Personal change
“A couple of weeks after I signed with Sola, I was newly pregnant with my first daughter. It was a lot of change all at once. Having the flexibility in my schedule made it such an easier transition to suite ownership and motherhood, and even helped me cope with some post-partum depression. I could take time off and travel with my family.”

Sola community
You don’t really realize you need the support from other stylists until you work alone. Having a Sola community right outside my door is important. I can walk out and knock on a door and connect any time. I always feel are truly working together not against each other.”


Kimberly Loomis

Urban Posh Salon
Columbus, Ohio
7 years with Sola: 7

Services: Gender-neutral services; corrective/custom color and haircuts

My journey
“I’ve been licensed for 20 years and always knew I wanted to leave this industry a little bit better than how I found it. Starting out, I worked at a couple corporate salons, even managed one for six years, then was introduced to an early version of the suite life, well before all the support and info on the market existed. When Sola arrived in Columbus, I switched and have run my business from a Sola salon studio since.”

My vision
“Throughout my time behind the chair, I could see how wasteful our industry can be. In North America, we produce 877 pounds of waste per minute in the beauty industry and consume 30% of plastic through our bottles and packaging, most of it not being recycled.

I knew there had to be something better for me and my clients. I wanted to advance the salon experience for them. I started on a journey to provide products with cleaner ingredients and a cleaner salon environment. Having my own studio at Sola let me take the next step for my clients.”

Going green in a suite
“When you go out on your own, the biggest hurdle is refining your core values and ethos, and finding partners and brands that match. It is easier to find information on recycling programs and product information today. That conversation is happening more and more, on social media and in-person classes. The hard part is there are so many different levels of being sustainable: clean beauty, cruelty-free, vegan, recyclable packaging, ocean waste. You must find the level that fits your brand.”

My space + sustainable design:
“I rebranded when I moved from a single into a double studio. I found ways to make things throughout more sustainable, even my tools and decor. I researched and started with the basics. Today, my salon is vegan and cruelty-free. I’m a proud Green Circle salon that recycles up to 95% of all salon waste—everything from excess hair color, foils/metals, plastics, and paper. My salon is also 100% carbon neutral. The hair color I use is biodegradable and I use salon scales and a color management system to reduce waste. All product packaging is 100% recyclable, made from PET or ocean-friendly plastics. I switched out my shampoo hose to an Ecohead that uses 65% less water. I have plants throughout the salon identified in the NASA clean air study as being best for removing chemicals found in salon environments. My business is also gender-neutral in services and pricing, and a Strands for Trans and Dress Code Project salon. Hair doesn’t have a gender.”

Start simple, but just start.
Here are three easy steps any suite-based beauty pro can do to be more sustainable:

  1. Stop excessive waste. Switch out disposable cups to reusable ones. Brand them with your logo or message for a next-level, customized experience.  Switch paper towels in the bathrooms to hand dryers. Minimize water bottles. Our Sola franchise owner installed an amazing, filtered water system. Wait until you have a full load of towels to run the washer.
  2. Hold brands accountable to be sustainable and to use cleaner ingredients. This is happening more as we independents get to choose. Finding products that align with core values is a huge step.
  3. Recycle as much as possible. And have the conversation with clients about why it is important, and anything you are doing in your salon to drive sustainability. They get excited when I explain where their hair and foils are going, and why.

Sustaining happiness as a beauty pro
“Giving back to our industry is what keeps me happiest. I have my own salon and business that aligns with my core values. I work internationally with brands, am a New York Fashion Week stylist (thanks, Sola), am in the MODERN SALON 100 for 2023, and I’m getting ready to launch my own independent ‘free your mind education’ program. But my favorite thing I do in beauty is sit on the advisory board at the same school that I graduated from 20 years ago and help form the curriculum for future beauty pros.”


Steven Wren

Steven Brandon Hair Studio
Bloomingdale, Illinois 
5 years with Sola

Services: Barber grooming for traditional and trending hairstyles; beard maintenance; facial cleansing services

My journey
“Barbering was a career change that I made at 30 years old. I worked in a traditional barbershop for five years, with great mentors, but knew I wanted more for my career. I just wasn’t sure what that would look like. I didn’t want the responsibility of opening my own shop or running my own team, and the suite model wasn’t really on my radar at the time. But then Sola opened in the same area. I took a tour, loved it, and made the switch. Five years later, I’m getting ready to move into my third Sola suite. I’ve gone from the smallest to a middle size suite, and now into a double.”

What changed?
“Being able to customize every experience depending on guest needs changed when I moved into Sola. It became more than just offering a haircut, my space became a haven.”

The right fit
“Sola is a good fit for my business because it is such a recognizable brand. I was coming out of the comfort of working from a great, established barbering business. It was important to go independent within a brand that had such a strong reputation.”

Client reaction and retention
“Guests didn’t hesitate to follow me to my studio. I was overthinking, worried they would miss the barbershop atmosphere. But 90% of my guests came with me, and my bookings grew more from word of mouth and promotions. I could boast even more about this space I’d created and customized.”

My space, their haven
“Within the barbershop structure, when you are coming into a room with 7-9 other chairs and guests, there is a lot going on. A guest coming to my chair can use the visit to decompress, or as a space to relax and connect.”

Powerful moment for barbers?
“Out of 31 units in my Sola building there are four other licensed barber, and three or four more with dual licenses—both barber and cosmetology. More barbers are moving into suite concepts than ever before. I know a lot of people in the industry due to my work as an educator and businessperson, and consensus is here was an upswing of barbers moving into suites that started in 2019, surged during covid, and grown stronger since the world returned to somewhat normal.”

Is Sola good business?
“Sola is great business, especially for someone like me. At Sola, you’re in business for yourself, not by yourself. I came into my studio completely green and not knowing how to do it. Sola is a good business model set up to allow me to excel—to pick and choose the resources I needed. Community, resources, and education are all there. Support from the franchise owner is strong, backed up by a nationwide community. I found I got out of it what I made of it. Attending the Sola Sessions conference, I could be around other individuals going through the same things I was experiencing. We’d share business tips, strategies and more. And the Sola website, webinars and other tools keep you as connected as you want to be. It’s all been amazing for my business.” 


Jaime Castenada

Jaimeecutz Barber Studio
Avondale, AZ
3 Years with Sola

Services:  from haircuts and beard lineups to permanent hairline tattoos and facials. 

My journey
I’ve been working as a barber for 15 years and have tried it all—commission, rental and now suite. I experienced success at each but was limited in my first two shops. Ten years ago, I was earning 60% commission at the first shop I worked at, but the highest ticket was only $25 for a beard trim and cut. At the second shop, I started at 70% commission, but six months later, the owners transitioned to booth rental. I was 12 years into my career and facing burnout when I found Sola. The message was, ‘come make yourself at home and build equity in your own business.’

What changed for me at Sola?
“My confidence changed immediately. I felt I’d made the best decision to expand my business independently. For once, I wasn’t scared of change. I embraced it and that allowed my brand to blossom and allowed my work to speak for itself.”

What surprised you most?
“I was immediately taken back at the type of support I received from fellow studio mates and the ownership/management of my Sola franchise.”

The barbering evolution
“Barbers are having a moment and Sola has played a big role in evolving an effective suite option. I remember working in a 16-man shop where some days it seemed like there was nothing but testosterone and competition— not an environment I could grow in. Now, running my own business inside a Sola studio, I am in charge of every vibe in my room. That’s refreshing, from a barber’s perspective.”

My numbers, my pricing, my growth
“My average daily ticket is just under $70. For a haircut or beard trim, I book out 45 minutes. In my old shop, I booked only 30 minutes and was charging less. The only way to earn more was to cut faster and do more heads. I used to charge only $32 for an appt, and now I’m up to $52 for a regular men’s haircut. I do a lot of those, but I also do a lot of packages, and my highest priced one is $115 for an hour. I just got a bigger suite and am expanding my services to help clients cope with dandruff and dry facial skin and will offers $150 packages soon. I keep close track of my daily numbers, with my booking website and my personal spread sheet.”

My guests love my studio
“I am appointment-only with online booking, and 80-90% full. It is very rare that someone can text me same day and get in. I get to know my guests better and they get to know me and my brand better. It helps my business. People see my personality in my suite, in the décor, the music, the vibe.”

Set up to succeed, my way
“Sola gives you so many tools and systems. They can provide almost everything—from Sola Genius software to a personal website optimized for search to liability insurance, a products Hive and more. But there’s no pressure, no ‘you should do this.’  You handle your business however you want to handle it. It’s really like that.”

Going solo with Sola is smart business
“Sola gave me the boost I needed to stand on my own two feet in this business. Owning your business as an independent really allows you to become yourself and grow. Don’t be afraid to make the change. You won’t look back.”

Thinking about going independent? Check out our Going Independent Guide to learn more!


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