Eryn Harrison knew she wanted to be a stylist at age eight when she saw her mom re-do her hair after coming home from the salon. In kindergarten, she bought Barbie Dolls from her friends so she could cut their hair. After her first professional permanent at age 12, it was confirmed that she wanted to be behind the chair. Harrison began working after school at The Beauty Supply Store in her hometown of Oakland; received her license in 1997 and began her career as a stylist in an upscale shop, The Hair Tailor and worked there until opening Calm, A Salon in 2005 in Oakland, CA. She weighs in on our PERSPECTIVE question of the moment, which is:
Q: What’s the most critical regulatory/legislative issue to impact salons in the near future and what should they do to be prepared?
Harrison: "The most crucial/legislative decision in California to affect salons is the state regulated rules regarding the work day of an hourly employee. When a salon hired stylist is paid hourly, the salon has to abide by California's strict timeline of what comprises an eight hour day.
"The law states the employee must take an hour break after four hours of work and can return for an additional four hours to make an eight hour day. If stylists are scheduled to work six hours and that is considered their days work, they must take a 30 minute break prior to completing the first four hours. If they work a six hour shift they must take a 15 minute break and a 30 minute break all before the fourth and fifth hour. An employee that works more than four hours without a break of 15 to 60 minutes depending on the length of the shift is owed over time, which is time and half. With the new minimum wage of $12.25 starting on March 2, 2015 over time can be very costly to a small business.
"In our industry how a stylist manages time is precipitated on the number of clients booked, the services scheduled for each, their experience as a stylist and the standard of service they are required to give. Though every salon attempts to have their stylists stay on schedule most experienced ones will tell you that their priority is their client and not how many hours they are behind the chair. With a new stylist who is still learning her craft, the owner’s training and showing them the expected steps on how to provide the salon’s brand of service the priority has to be the client not the break schedule mandated by the state. We also want stylist to be enthusiastic about their profession and career path so we encourage them to take every opportunity to get as much time behind chair; ghost as many senior stylists; and ask as many questions. With the hourly pay, and the overtime in play, a junior or beginning stylist can make as much as a senior stylist who works on commission. It makes hiring new talent very difficult and expensive to train and be passionate about what they do, which is a requirement to be part of the team at Calm, A Salon.
"In my years as a salon owner you comply and do your best to schedule stylists so that it is a win for them, our clients and the salon. Though it can be a logistical nightmare at times I look at everything as an opportunity to learn and/or adapt – whether for me or my staff – which you have to do in order to be successful. This new legislation, as challenging as it can be, shows my stylists some of the more difficult aspects of operating a salon; demonstrates my commitment to them and their success; and re-enforces their worth and value."
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