Justin Frost (@justinfrosthair) decided to become a solo artist after years of working in large salons that employed more than 30 stylists and assistants. He recognized that such salons offer certain amenities to stylists, but couldn’t shake the feeling he could achieve more financially and creatively on his own. Seven years after opening M.J. Studio in Studio City, California, Frost says that the positives of working independently outweigh the negatives.
So how does a stylist make this leap and build a new business from the ground up? For Frost, the answer is focusing on pre-booking and referrals to maintain current clientele and continue to draw in new guests.
“Your clients want to see you succeed, so they help you grow through referrals,” Frost says. “I also believe the key to staying busy in the solo business is getting clients used to prebooking visits. This removes the anxiety of being on your own.”
For many solo artists, asking clients to prebook makes them uncomfortable and they worry that they will cause their clients to feel pressured. However, many clients look forward to their regular salon appointments and encouraging them to prebook the next visit ensures that they prioritize that time for themselves, which can otherwise get pushed aside if it's not already on the calendar. Approach prebooking with this frame of mind, remembering that it is something a solo artist does to benefit the client, as well as his or her business.
To gain new clients, self-promotion is key. Again, this can feel awkward for some solo artists, but it's important to remember that personal branding just means sharing one's skills and passions so that clients are aware of what is being offered. Social media is the most effective way to share with potential clients. Frost regularly posts his best color work on Instagram, letting his clients see exactly what kind of work he enjoys, excels at and can offer to them.
“Promote yourself at every opportunity via social media, create a client referral program, attend as many classes as possible," says Frost. "Think with not only your creative mind, but use your business senses. Our industry is super competitive, so stay sharp.”