Eric Taylor is the founder and CEO of Salon Republic, which offers private studio space to over 1,000 independent beauty professionals across 12 locations in three states. The company is growing by three to five locations a year, with the next, a 20,000 square foot location with space for up to 200 hairstylists, set to open in Hollywood during early fall 2017.
The locations include a wholesale beauty supply, onsite management, and complimentary towel service. Salon Republic offers marketing services to their studio stylists and they are about to install social media walls, a perfectly-lit space for stylists to capture images of their work for sharing on social media.
In developing Salon Republic locations, Taylor has created a community of solo artists who have the freedom to personalize their space, to interact with like-minded neighbors just down the hall if they’re feeling sociable, and the ability to close the door when they need more privacy for their work.
“We wanted to bridge the gap between the commission salon and someone being completely out there on their own,” Taylor says. “We try to marry the best of both worlds.”
Taylor was raised in Texas by entrepreneurs—a successful artist and a small business owner—and he saw them pursue their own ventures and set out to do the same thing. “After college, I was looking at certain businesses to see how they worked and to figure out where I could add value. The salon industry was interesting because it was based on artistry.”
Through a friend who was seeing a stylist at Keith Clark's salon in Dallas, he met the man Taylor says originally conceived of the studio concept. Clark became his mentor.
“I didn’t want to compete with Keith so I moved to Los Angeles, where I had gone to college, and opened my first studio salon in Studio City in 2000. I was the only employee for three years and I got to know all the hairdressers really well.”
Something that is often levied against the salon suite model is that they don’t offer education but for nearly three years, Taylor has been providing free, advanced, hands-on classes every Monday in Los Angeles at one of the Salon Republic locations. He says that everything he and his company do is to further the stylist’s success. That has included adding a wholesale beauty supply within each Salon Republic location.
“Our goal is to offer what our stylists are using so we do regular surveys, asking what products they are working with at the moment. We buy from Wella, Schwarzkopf, Goldwell, Redken, Olaplex, Kevin Murphy, Pulp Riot, and more, and then we distribute. It all goes back to making them happy. If we can help them avoid a 45 minutes roundtrip drive to a beauty supply, then that is what we’ll do.”
There is an application process for a studio within Salon Republic because not everyone is ready to be an independent.
“By and large, our stylists are successful professionals with a solid clientele who see an economic advantage to no longer paying commission or they want control over their own space, to put their stamp on it, to sell products. Some make their rent from the profit of selling retail.
“We also have former salon owners who don’t want to manage a staff, interview a new front desk staff every week, or deal with landlords. What they do want is to focus on their clients. They want to do great hair.”