Brent Hardgrave shares his tips for a successful extension business.
Brent Hardgrave shares his tips for a successful extension business.Jamie Newman

The second annual HAIR+ Summit, produced by MODERN SALON and Bobit Business Media, started last year as a way to emphasize the importance of this category and to encourage participation among stylists and salon owners and also to introduce them to solutions from experts in the category, which includes trichology, thinning hair, scalp care, extensions and enhancements.This year’s event focused on providing more advanced education to help participants move forward as hair loss consultants and to become strong in all areas—technical, business and medical.

Attendees had the opportunity to break out into three special-focus session based on their interest and skill level in the HAIR+ category. For all levels, Track Three featured a panel of experts on how to build and grow an extension and hair restoration business. This included Saretta Bowerman, owner of Blue Water Salon; Brent Hardgrave, stylist at Jamison Shaw; and Patti Wood, owner of 5th Ave. Salon.

Each panelist is also an extension artist and specializes in the hair restoration business. They took several questions from the crowd relating to this interest area. Below are some of our favorites. 

Q: How do you introduce extensions to someone who has never had them?
Brent Hardgrave:
Begin small. If you add one to each side of their head to begin with, they’ll get used to what it feels like. Get that tip-toe in the pool before they can swim.

Q: How do you know a client is right or ready for an integrative piece?
Patti Wood:
The least amount of hair is the best way to go. They’re going to feel more comfortable with themselves if they don’t feel like something is stuck on their head.
BH: So many videos are out there to educate clients and show them what they might want. It depends on where they’re starting at; how large of an area are you working with? With extensions and toppers, less is always more. Education—let them know what’s up.

Q: How do you decide which company you are going to use?
I won’t deal with the companies who won’t back me up. When you know what you’re doing and you know your client knows how to take care of their hair…you’ll know when something is wrong with the hair itself. The companies who stand behind me and trust that I know that, those are the companies I work with.
Saretta Bowerman: I use a lot of social media to find different hair extension company to find the latest technique or latest rooted color. I do a ton of research on social media and if they have a good following and good reviews, they probably know what they’re doing.

Q: I don’t even know where to begin when picking extensions; how do I choose?
Ask a question in the HAIR+ by MODERN SALON Facebook group.
PW: It can depend on the client’s preferences.
BH: My suggestion would be to go get educated on all the different types. Go give yourself the education you need so you can make that choice. You have to constantly invest in you and constantly be curious. Keep looking until you know what is yours.

Q: What do you recommend in making connections with doctors and knowing where to refer your clients?
I have a letter that explains who I am and what I do. I’ll act like a pharmaceutical rep and bring in lunch, pens and tape measures with my salon name on them so we have time booked out and I can make an impression. I’ll sometimes set up a slideshow if the space allows. After they send me one referral, I make sure to send them an Edible Arrangements as a thank-you-very-much-for-trusting-me gift.

Q: How do you manage inventory?
I have exactly what I need at all times. Preparedness, having what I need on-hand, with no wait-time or time for a client to spend her money elsewhere makes a difference.
PW: It’s the same way as stocking color—you’ll have your 5Ns, 7Ns, 8Ns. You can’t have too much on the shelf because it is expensive, you want to be particular, but you know what your clientele is and you know what you need.

Q: Did you have a mentor through your journey?
The first salon I worked at offered to train us in extensions. Since then, I started my own salon and following a lot of great industry professionals and figured I’ll use what they’re doing.
PW: Bobbi Russell is my inspiration (Easihair pro) and I trusted in her and she helped guide me.

Q: How do you market yourselves?
I have a social-media person and she’s been great for me helping with my website, managing Instagram and Twitter. If you can find someone in social media who is affordable, I recommend you do that; they’re the expert.
BH: I’ve a firm believer in the word of mouth and the direct connect with somebody. It’s about creating the community that you want and the clientele that you want.
SB: I actually have a client I trade services with and she does my social media for me. Then if you have brands like MODERN SALON share your work, that gets you more followers and more attention.

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