(From left to right) Kim Bennett Horvath, Shaila Paredes, Brandie Kekoa
(From left to right) Kim Bennett Horvath, Shaila Paredes, Brandie Kekoa

When CNBC declared 2017 “the year of women entrepreneurs” perhaps there’s no better time than NOW to grab ahold of your future and live your life the way you envision it. When Queen Bey’s genius and oh-so-relevant lyric “I depend on me” is an earbug, take it as a sign your Independence Day is coming soon.

Imagine the freedom of setting a flexible schedule…having the perfect work-life balance…or the power of determining how every cent earned is spent. What about saying “yes” to other opportunities—whether personal or professional—because you can?

Similar to start-up communities across the country, salon professionals are opening their own businesses at an astounding rate. Just look at the numbers! According to Jennie Wolff, VP, Marketing and Education for Sola Salon Studios’ 350 glamorous locations across America, 90% of its nearly 10,000 owners are female.

Going Solo with SOLA is Easy Peasy Increasingly more women are transitioning to ownership because it’s become easier than ever. As Jennie observes,“Sola Salon Studios empowers each owner to create and personalize her salon’s design, culture and energy. We provide the technology and educational resources to help them find success. We’re a go-to resource, letting beauty pros focus on working with clients and running a business as they see fit. They are in complete control of their destiny.”

If you’re toying with the idea of going independent but need a bit of encouragement, check out these stories starring several of Sola’s leading ladies, the ultimate insider’s guide to launching YOUR very own salon.

Shaila Paredes: Brow-Know How

Los Angeles-based Shaila Paredes owns Brows by Sheila. Borrowing the moniker of her best-known celebrity client, this “girl boss” was inspired to strike out on her own when she wanted to create her own product line within an environment of her control.

Music played a surprisingly crucial role in seeking independence: as the daughter of a music teacher and fiancée of a drum technician/drummer, she wanted her salon to play classic jazz…not exactly what her former colleagues wanted to hear all day.

A friend shared a brochure from Sola Salon Studios. On a hunch, Shaila visited what would be Brentwood’s site in its pre-construction phase. Possessing the rare insight to envision what could be, the salon of her dreams whirred in her imagination.

Shaila signed the paperwork the moment construction started in 2013 and immediately started working on details. One peek at her elegant website provides insight into her “looks expensive” aesthetic, where clean lines, white furniture and minimalist décor set a soothing ambiance for her clientele’s relaxation and as a showcase for her eponymous product line of brow brushes, powders, pencils and more.

Shaila notes that as a studio space, her clients can “unwind in a protected and private atmosphere” — an important factor given her paparazzi-hot locale — while chilling to Frank Sinatra, her favorite Pandora station.  

Brandie Kekoa: A Curly Girl’s Best Friend

Nestled within the heart of California’s wine country, Brandie Kekoa, founder of Be Kekoa (the Hawaiian word for courageous and really her last name) in Temecula, CA, followed her aunt and grandmother’s path as a third-generation beauty pro. Her niche is curly hair, inspired by her battle with alopecia resulting from taming her own tresses with relaxers, braids and weaves as a young woman. 

On her own time at home, away from her then-employer, Brandie frequently experimented with naturally healing moisturizing ingredients in her kitchen to find a cure, ultimately masterminding an innovative proprietary mix of French Polynesian oils. A social media explosion from several curly clients led to what Kim Kardashian might call an “en fuego” demand for her services and products, tempting Brandie to go solo.

Brandie had always wanted the benefits of owning a salon but without the “drama of managing employees and the headaches of cleaning the bath and break rooms.” She signed with Sola in 2014; because Sola offers flexible spacing Brandie soon expanded her salon, breaking down a wall to combine studios accommodating her Brandie-trained “curl healers.” Her view of empowerment entails giving back: in addition to Brandie’s salon employees, the Tahitian citizens harvesting Be Kekoa’s exclusive ingredients are on her payroll, making this a global win-win.

Sola’s OG Professional: Kim Bennett Horvath

This Denver-based signed her lease in 2004 and never looked back. Kim’s reason for going independent is a common one: wanting to hone her products. Kim wanted to open her own Paul Mitchell Focus Salon, while she also serves as a national educator for Paul Mitchell. 

“My true passion is hair: working gives me joy and inspiration on many levels, somewhat blurring my professional and personal lives. Owning my business lets me determine how, when and where my time and energy is spent.”

Quite the Sola enthusiast after 13 years, she is now the company’s culture ambassador and director of industry relationships, or as she describes it —LadyLeader, allaying the all-to-often fears and common concerns for established beauty pros seriously considering the idea of launching their own salons.

As Gwen Stefani sang, what are YOU waiting for? Take charge of your career destiny ladies: as Sola Salon Studios says, it’s time to Be In Business For Yourself, Not By Yourself!

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