The Independents: Are They Changing the Way We Do Business?

Greg Yedding calls his 7,693 square foot space the incubator because he factors the inevitable departure of salon professionals into his business formula. He offers Industry Hair Studio, a lease chair salon in Tucson, Arizona, for professionals to grow a business and accepts their inevitable need for a change of pace. “It’s human nature to change it up and this could well be someplace else, I even print out client lists for departing stylists,” adds Gregg, who has been licensed for thirty-six plus years.

This perspective on employment works for fifteen stylists, two barbers, four nail techs, and one esthetician serving an upscale clientele six days a week. Also available is a massage room, a space for tattoo artists, makeup services  “and whatever new personal service becomes trendy in the future,” adds Greg. Local artists, who created the beautiful ironwork used throughout the salon, display their latest work for purchase—the salon takes no commission.

Gary Ventress, salon coordinator and head stylist, personifies the plight of today’s young independent stylist. After graduating from beauty school, Gary worked at a California chain salon and built up his speed and techniques, then transitioned to a lease salon. Making a steady income was challenging at first, so he would offer free hair in exchange for passing out his cards. “I call this walking billboards. You want to give away hair to women who work in key retail stores like the Gap, H&M, and Guess,” he explains. He rebooks every client, recommends going to work five days a week, even with no appointments. “If you are seriously building you must work late every night of the week. This is when the busy clients run in for a quick style.”

I asked Gary the reason professionals move from the security of a paycheck to leasing. “Freedom. Today’s independent doesn’t rate income as the top reason for leasing; the main reason is creative freedom, a lack of high production quotas, and no confining salon policies. Obama care makes it easier for professionals to get insurance,” he added.

Industry Hair Studio has a unique architectural design with staff and client in mind--spacious and open; the kitchen area resembles a trendy, small restaurant. The men’s grooming area sports a pool table, with private cutting areas for shy guys. I used the ATM machine (great idea) and it dispensed fifty dollars in five-dollar bills. Might we be thinking tip?

I felt like I was given a sneak peek into the mind of the new, young salon professionals. To each his/her own--commission or lease, at the end of the day, it’s not really about how much you make, is it? It’s about how much you keep. You will be in the money once you learn to manage it. But, that’s another story...


Carlos Valenzuela is a consultant, speaker, stylist, bilingual trainer, and author of iFabulous Salon Success, an interactive online learning guide for new salon professionals.



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