View all

When making the switch from employee to independent stylist, there’s a lot of factors to consider. Not only are you creating attention-worthy styles for each and every client, but now you have an entire business to run that includes inventory management, marketing and continuing education. And the resources you’re used to may not be as readily available to you.

But keeping up with education isn’t as daunting as it might sound at first for a stylist just stepping out on their own. With apps, social media and plenty of networking opportunities, these five independent stylists from Sola Salon Studios are thriving thanks to their flexible schedules and new-found education resources.

Amanda Fagan
Birmigham, MI
Education Method: SolaPro App

When it comes to education, Amanda Fagan understands how the right amount of education can significantly impact your business. “It’s crucial for me.” She explains. “I’ve been a stylist now for seven years, and I’m typically taking an average of about five classes a year. I notice when I don’t seek education consistently I start to get really comfortable, and when I get comfortable I get bored. And when I get bored, I get discouraged. So it’s crucial because it helps to refresh and re-motivate me.”

In recent years, she’s become a fan of locally available classes and networking opportunities. For the quickest guide to upcoming classes and workshops, she uses the SolaPro app. “There’s an education tab that allows you to choose which region you’re in, and then it tells you all of the classes that are coming up this month. And then you select the class you’re interested in and it gives you all of the information to be able to rsvp, if there’s a cost… it’s really simple.”

Additionally, Sola Pro provides tons of video education so a stylist can access artistic inspiration and business/marketing education at their fingertips.


Antonio Heath
Birmigham, MI
Education Method: Sola Sessions

Antonio Heath is no stranger to the importance of continuing education. As one of the 10 individuals chosen out of 7,000+ Sola professionals  for the Faces of Sola, as well as a Hattori Hanzo Shears educator, he recognizes the value offered during the one-day event.

“Education is motivation. And education is also knowledge. Any time that you gain knowledge, it helps you as a stylist. If you’re a Sola entrepreneur, it’s a great benefit to attend one of the Sola Sessions because it’s not like the typical hair show where all you’re getting is hair techniques, product information, etc. You’re also getting marketing, advertisement, entrepreneur, and business advice…all those different things that will help you sustain as an independent salon owner. Because a lot of times we as independent stylists mess up by thinking that our skills are just enough, and it’s not. It’s the things behind the scenes, like marketing and advertising, that grows your business. They touch on everything at Sola Sessions, and it’s different every time. It’s not like one of those events where you go once, and you’ve been a thousand times. It’s always different.”


Sue Scott
Alexandria, VA
Education Method: Sola Sessions

Also chosen as one of the Faces of Sola for 2017, Sue Scott has always put a focus on continuing her education throughout her career, and it’s something she strongly suggestions to stylists just stepping out.

“Since I started in this industry, I made it a priority to always continue education. As an independent stylist and salon owner, I now have more time and flexibility in my schedule to travel even more and invest in my education. As a result, my continuing education has made me more successful and confident behind the chair.

Her advice? “Take risks with your education, go with your instincts, and continue education. You can’t soar if you don’t jump. Being able to bring those new techniques and trends back to your guests will keep you booked solid!”

Her go-to resource for education is the Sola Sessions offered to Sola entrepreneurs. “At Sola Salons, we have such a wonderful community of stylists and salon owners with different skills and ideas. The Sola Sessions brings amazing artists in an intimate gathering all in one day. I’m super excited about the next Sola Sessions that will be in DC. The value that it brings is so worth it!”


Caro Ellis
San Diego, CA
Education Method: Local Education

Caro Ellis has been a stylist for twenty years, and when she made the switch to Sola, she had a few concerns that were quickly alleviated. “I thought I was going to be kind of left in the cold, being by myself as an independent stylists.” She explains. “But it’s actually been completely the opposite. Now, I feel like I have more education, and I have more flexibility to attend classes so it’s actually been a lot better for me.”

While she uses multiple strategies to learn to most recent techniques, she’s particularly fond of the in-house classes offered at the Sola San Diego Creative Space. The Creative Space offers a variety of classes – some free, some with fees – to Sola Salon entrepreneurs, and covers a spectrum of classes from tax advice, marketing and various technique classes.

“Lately, I’ve been able to absorb more from the Creative Space classes over any other class I’ve attended because they’re more intimate, and the educators can get through to you a lot better than when you’re in a bigger setting. And also because they’re so intimate, there’s a lot of hands on so it’s a much more one-on-one environment.”


Wonderpin Studio, Tessa Ellis & Amy Grieser
Bel Villaggio Temecula, CA
Education Method: One-on-One coaching with Nina Kovner, Passion Squared A School

“Education is the single most important factor as an independent.” The duo at Wonderpin Studio explains. “If we don't keep our education current, we are behind in the trends and current business practices, including an online presence. Without education, we believe, we wouldn't stand out as an independent.”

Throughout the eleven years spent in the beauty industry, both Amy and Tessa have tried many different means of education. But their favorite style, for many reasons, is one-on-one coaching.

“Aside from in-salon training and attending conferences, we have discovered so much information and had much success with Nina Kovner and Passion Squared A School. The ease of her online education and social media presence has made learning with her and our peers an incredibly informative experience.  Her honesty, candor and ability to make you look deeper within yourself and your business has helped our studio really blossom and grow.  We were drawn to Nina because of her frankness and sincerity in everything she does.  She truly makes you feel loved, and empowered with the knowledge and confidence necessary to grow your life and your business.”

Becoming an independent stylist doesn’t mean you have to search high and low to find classes worth your time. With technology and networking opportunities readily available, all you have to do is lean forward to utilize it, and you’ll be well on your way to generating a fresh wave of business with your newfound skillset. 


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