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When a Solo Salon Artist Takes Maternity Leave and Their Assistant Takes Over

by Anne Moratto | November 22, 2016

The relationship between a stylist and their assistant can take many shapes. Sometimes that stylist is a territorial terror, forever afraid of losing their clientele to their assistant.  More often, though, the hairdresser is a nurturing mentor who only wants the best for their apprentice. Marilyn Cole (@marilynrockshair) falls into the second category. The Aloxxi educator is an independent salon suite owner, working out of a space on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.  And every day, all day, she is side-by-side with her assistant Shantel (@shantelnicolexohair). The space is small and not big enough for huge egos.

On a visit to Cole’s studio when she was pregnant, she shared how all her clients would continue to keep their appointments during her maternity leave and they would be seeing Shantel. The process for this transfer required good communication and trust.

“Shantel and I work together so closely, so she has already developed a personal connection with my clients and has worked on all of them," Cole says. "She takes her own notes for each client and we also use Aloxxi headsheets to describe and illustrate specific sectioning for creative color applications.  We use the Aloxxi products and system so we also have a common language for how we formulate.”

They did some adjusted pricing, where necessary.  Shantel used her own products and kept her income. Upon her return, Cole gave a social shout-out to Shantel on Instagram:

“As a busy and independent hairstylist who is committed to their clients, getting a day off is close to impossible most of the time. Sick days don't exist, vacations are few and far between and holidays are the busiest time of the year. In no way am I complaining, I am extremely grateful to have the loyal clients and busy schedule that I have. When it came time to my husband and I expanding our family with the arrival of our baby boy, it was imperative to me to be able to continue to provide exceptional hair service to my clients. Just shy of a year ago I brought on an extremely talented woman @shantelnicolexohair to assist me and learn the ropes of being an independent suite renter. She is one of the most kind, talented, trustworthy and downright awesome people I have had the pleasure of working with. While on maternity leave over the last seven weeks, she has remained committed to providing my clients with kick ass hair in my absence. Thank you @shantelnicolexohair for your hard work, I appreciate you so much. The sky is the limit for you and your future as a hairstylist. You rock, sister!”

Cole affirmed that if any client prefers to continue to Shantel, she is supportive. 

“As long as we communicate, it will work.  I have had nothing but good feedback on Shantel since I was gone. It's a true testament of giving it away to keep it (education and opportunity, that is!) I'm proud and I learned a lot as well through this process. That's what this journey is all about right? Learning!”

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