Starting off a beauty career at a prominent, high-end Los Angeles salon would be a dream come true for any recent cosmetology school graduate, and Sam DiVine appreciated the opportunity. But when the nationwide blowdry bar trend captured a chunk of the L.A. market, DiVine saw her business dropping off.
“People were no longer coming in twice a week for an $85 blowout,” she reports. While DiVine wasn’t happy to lose that business and missed doing the service—“it’s magnificent to watch clients walk in, get the blowout and walk out to have their day”—she didn’t want to go work at a blowdry bar, either. Both in creativity and income, blowouts were limiting. “While the blowdry concept works for the client,” DiVine says, “it doesn’t work as well for the stylist, because there’s a built-in ceiling when all you’re doing is the blowdry.”
Determined to carve a path that would accommodate the blowdry demand without separating it from other salon services, DiVine partnered with her long-time east coast friend Ashley Deazavedo to develop a hybrid salon business that paired a membership model with a traditional, per-service “a la carte” structure. To test the concept, DiVine and Deazavedo first launched Colorbar salons in New Jersey and, convinced they had something that worked, followed up with a team of 17 stylists at Society Salon in Los Angeles. Clients have a choice of three flat-fee membership levels that include unlimited specified services with the salon’s newer stylists.
“When stylists come out of our apprenticeship program, they move into the membership program,” DiVine explains. “When they have a full book, they move into the a la carte program. We also have stylists in the membership program who are experienced hairdressers but are new to our area and are just building a clientele. This arrangement is beautiful for them.”
DiVine finds this model good for her health as well—and for the stylists’ peace of mind. “Our stylists don’t have to worry about how they will build their business,” she says. “And my stress levels are down, too, because the salon has a guaranteed monthly income. Membership is a minimum one-year commitment, so I know what I can count on each month. It also means that we don’t have to focus on prebooking those clients.”
The stress relief aligns with the salon’s culture of prioritizing health. “Within our training program we talk a lot about posture—wearing proper shoes, holding your tools correctly,” DiVine says. “We bring in educators—some are our clients—to lead yoga, meditation and business classes. We all talk about body and wellbeing, approaching it in a positive way. Our staff is knowledgeable, and we share that information with clients.”
DiVine’s workout venue of choice is a boxing gym, where she boxes two to three times a week in addition to doing yoga and stretching at home. She keeps her diet largely vegetarian, eating meat once or twice a week in order to avoid an iron deficiency. “If I eat a heavy grain or meat diet, I find I don’t have the energy to last through the 8- or 10-hour day,” she notes. “With a heavy vegetarian diet, I can do 10- to 12-hour days, and I’m solid. The key is to be in tune with your own body and know what works for you. Then you can make adjustments.”
Paying attention to her physical health benefits her mental health, too. “Most industries don’t require you to have the level of emotional energy we have in the beauty industry,” DiVine says. “Every 30 to 60 minutes, you give everything you have, and then you clear the slate and do it again! It’s different from a physical workout, but it’s still a workout.”
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