"Establishing the foundations of the business before the beauty services is game changing. Beauty professionals can learn while taking care of their clients and making money," says Karen...

"Establishing the foundations of the business before the beauty services is game changing. Beauty professionals can learn while taking care of their clients and making money," says Karen Kaminski.

Photo: Shay Goldschmidt

Who doesn’t love the beauty industry?

Growing up, I wanted to go to beauty school, but my dad encouraged me to pursue a college education first. Following his advice, I graduated from Marywood University, started a family, but still had a strong interest in the beauty industry. I went back, obtained my nail tech license, purchased an existing nail salon, and started my journey into the beauty industry.

Through this experience, I discovered that while I enjoyed serving clients, my true interest lay in the business aspects of the industry. When the opportunity to become a Sales Representative came about, I seized it.

Moroccanoil was the first brand I represented, and I trained in New York City. Seeing these beautiful salons was mesmerizing to me. Female stylists wore beautiful outfits with stilettos and the men dressed in suits and sportcoats. The salons were separated by floors of services; the hustle and bustle of the front desk, the clients coming and going — I loved every minute. 

When a position with Cosmoprof was posted, I applied, and was subsequently hired by Linda Fellows to take over the NEPA (Northeastern Pennsylvania) territory. 

Talk about a dream job… beauty industry, products, and salons all in one. I felt like I had officially made it!

Then in 2011, the emergence of Salon Suites was introduced into Pennsylvania. During my training with Cosmoprof, I encountered this concept for the first time, realizing its widespread popularity across the United States. 

Fast forward to 2016, I started Allure Salon Group & Professional Education Center, the first private Salon Suite facility in Pennsylvania. I opened my first location in June of 2017. At first, it was to help prospective salon owners set up their businesses, introduce new products from manufacturers, and provide technique training. However, I soon realized that the process needed to include so much more than merely a simple business setup. 

Beauty professionals are taught how to pass State Board Licensing in beauty school, but being in a salon, they very rarely encounter business training as an employee.

While pursuing a second location, I found myself being approached by other people trying to figure out how to set up these facilities. This turned into my second business, Allure Salon Suite Consulting. Both businesses are synergistic and have allowed me to familiarize myself with all aspects of the Salon Suite business model in the United States and Canada. 

Once the Wilkes Barre location was opened, I noticed that having a book of clients will definitely get you into a salon suite, but staying is difficult without the business know-how. What I see in the beauty industry today is fragmented pieces of information being handed out as business support with NO systematic way for beauty professionals to learn in a comprehensive manner. 

My partner in Allure Salon Group David Bao (who has a background in finance and Private Equity) and I have created the Salon Suite Blueprint — a fully developed curriculum that teaches core business skills and fundamentals to beauty professionals. So instead of having a beauty business, salon owners can have a business that provides beauty services. 

Establishing the foundations of the business before the beauty services is game changing. Beauty professionals can learn while taking care of their clients and making money — picking up where beauty school leaves off.

5 Steps To Transition From Beauty Professional To Successful Salon Owner

  • Step 1: Facility & Space Selection. Pick a Salon Suite facility that's right for you. Consider the following:
    • Distance from your current salon
    • Distance from your home
    • Size of the salon space
    • Amenities provided, laundry facilities, security, processing lounge, breakroom, etc.
    • Parking & Utilities 
    • What kind of support is offered; is there a support team available and what exactly do they provide and how to get examples.
    • Rent Rate —  the cheapest facilities are not always the best option.
    • If the facility is in compliance with the state board of cosmetology.
  • Step 2: Business Setup. Setting up your business legally, and professionally within your state. Make sure to do all the following steps:
    • Register your fictitious name for your business
    • Decide the business structure; examples LLC, Sole Proprietorship 
    • Register your business with the state 
    • Apply for an EIN Number
    • Check if your local municipality requires local business permit
    • Obtain a Salon License 
    • Product selection for hair color and retail, importance of working with a Salon Consultant.
    • Hours of Operation
    • Pricing List of Services
    • Booking Systems 
    • Opening a Business Bank Account
  • Step 3: Branding & Marketing. 
    • Identify your ideal client
    • Create your brand with colors, mission statement and logo
    • Create a website and Google Business Review page
    • Set up social media accounts
    • Advertising, business cards, rack cards
    • SEO Optimization
    • Obtain client reviews on Google
  • Step 4: Client Retention. 
    • Referral program
    • Loyalty program
    • Guest experience
  • Step 5: Financial Management
    • Tracking income, sales and expenses, and knowing the difference
    • Reviews and audits of your business
    • Understanding your salary and business profit
    • Creating a Financial Business Budget 
    • Saving for retirement

Allure takes it a bit further, so once an owner has mastered the above, we help them to focus on optimizing and scaling their business by:

  • Creating effective business processes with automation and systemization where they see fit.
  • Researching how to hire and manage employees and create handbooks and SOP’s.
  • Outsourcing business operations; such as bookkeeping, social media marketing, etc.
  • Business strategy reflection, making improvements where they see fit.

Allure has implemented the above curriculum with our Exclusive “Employee to Owner Program”. This is the first of its kind and has helped so many beauty professionals transition into business owners successfully. When beauty pros come into Allure as a W2 employee, they receive everything an owner does but they are required to be on bi-weekly calls with our team going over the above curriculum. They are paid a 60% commission and transition into Salon Owners within six months.

One example of a successful business owner is Craig ‘CJ’ Winston, who owns Craig Winston Barber Co. in Allure’s Trexlertown, PA location. CJ came to us as in the ETO Program — his sales were $500 from the clients who followed when he started. Fast forward to today, Craig has a website and a google business page (which has taken him to the #1 position for Trexlertwon Barbers, by simply asking clients for reviews), and his sales have now surpassed his initial goal and his business continues to grow!

Another trend I see happening more and more is students coming out of Beauty School and diving head first into salon business ownership. Believe it or not, they do have a clientele to support a salon suite, but they cannot maintain a business because of the lack of basic business practices.

The salon suite business is about to accelerate in the next 3-5 years. Why, you ask? Because Private Equity firms have partnered with many of the major franchise salon suite brands. If you know anything about PE, it’s all about growth at a 10% rate — which in the Salon Suite industry will see more and more locations.

My experience as a salon suite owner has demonstrated that when tenants begin voicing concerns over seemingly minor issues, it often signals underlying problems with their business. Beauty professionals often struggle with diagnosing and addressing business challenges due to a lack of formal business education. As a result, they may become frustrated, voice complaints, and ultimately move to a facility with lower rent, or in some cases, leave the industry entirely.

Starting, managing and operating a salon business is no easy task, but with the right guidance, curriculum, and systemized support, the sky's the limit for beauty professionals.

For more expert tips, please visit www.alluresalonsuiteconsulting.com.

About Karen Kaminski: Karen Kaminski is Salon Suite expert, consultant, and founder of Allure Salon Suite Consulting and Allure Salon Group & Professional Education Center. She’s a sought-after beauty suite consultant for entrepreneurial beauty professionals and investors. Karen also owns five Salon Suite Facilities in PA, housing 115 studio salons, and is recognized for her experience and understanding of the Salon Suite market.

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