Kathy Jager, educator, soft skills specialist, suite renter, Cosmetologists Chicago board member...
Kathy Jager, educator, soft skills specialist, suite renter, Cosmetologists Chicago board member and Oak Forest, Illinois-based president of Kathy Jager Associates.

When you are responsible for it all in your salon space, you have to remember to take time to “take care of business.”

Kathy Jager—an educator, soft skills specialist, suite renter, Cosmetologists Chicago board member and Oak Forest, Illinois-based president of Kathy Jager Associates—gives entrepreneur-focused classes at CosmoProf industry shows (fashion-focus.net) around the country.  The most common question she gets: “How do I build my business?”  Here, she shares her most important success tips for new and growing renters.

Time Management:

1. If you’re just starting, don’t get consumed by social media. Your time is better spent servicing your existing clients in every way and building your relationships with them. “You can post all day on Instagram, but asking for referrals is the way you build a business,” stresses Jager.

2. To offer topnotch service and increase productivity, hire an assistant. “I worked independently for 5 years before I hired an assistant, but now I can service my clients 1000 times better,” says Jager. “Set aside a portion of retail and raise your prices 3-5% to offset the cost. The most important thing my assistant does is set the tone with a luxury signature shampoo.”  


1. “Show it, use it, and let clients touch, smell, feel, try and buy,” says Jager. “If you teach clients how to use products and explain their performance, once you put 2 or 3 products in their hands, they will buy at least one eighty-percent of the time.”

2. To overcome “fear of selling,” start with a concise, simple, marketable brand. Role play and even video record yourself recommending products to a friend. Watch the video and perfect your approach. Then create a simple retail punch card that’s worth $100.

When the client has spent $100, reward him or her with a free 8-oz. styling product.

Getting More Clients:

1. Ask for referrals! A decade ago, Jager wrote on her suite’s blackboard: “Want a free haircut? Ask me how.” Everyone asked and the answer was, “Just send me one new client.” It was the best business builder she ever used because it tapped current clients and everyone loves a reward. End the promo when it makes sense, or time-limit it.

2. Network in the Neighborhood. Introduce yourself to local businesses, bank tellers and baristas. “Back when I worked in a salon, if we were not busy we had to promote ourselves,” says Jager. “Today, people want to rely on Facebook. The hardest thing to learn is how to introduce, market and promote yourself. If there is a football game near you, put flyers on cars in the parking lot. Get creative! Then hone your 30-second speech for introducing yourself and your salon to others, and talking yourself up.”

Keeping Clients:

1. Go beyond offering cuts and color—every solo artist does that. Personalize every look. Talk hair type, face shape and skin tones. This often gets overlooked in busy employee salons. Make your clients love you.

2. Network not only for education, but to form peer connections and tap resources. (Jager is on the Board of Cosmetologists Chicago.) “You are isolated working solo and need to stay up-to-date on health, fashion, styles and personal development,” she says. “Stay in balance. Always have something new and positive to talk about.”

Want to share your Solo Artist Success story?

Email michele.musgrove@bobit.com and tell us about your journey and how you are celebrating your independent spirit to build a personal beauty business. Share your best practices, history and challenges, too! We want to hear from you!


Do you run your own personal, professional beauty business? Welcome to the new artist community just for you!

Solo Artist is for and about independent beauty professionals—freelancers, salon suites, chair renters—every stylist who is “on your own,” on purpose. It’s the one-to-one resource you need to stay connected to professional beauty trends, education, products, deals, biz-building tips and much more—all customized to the Solo Artist approach.


For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.