Kate Sparks, Meraki Salon in Corona, CA, started her hairdressing career 13 years ago. As a hairstylist now making $10,000 a month, we wanted to know any tips she has for how to set yourself up for success in this industry and in your career.
MODERN SALON: How much time should you expect to invest in each of the early phases of your career?
KS: Depending on the route you take after school, it's common to spend one to two years assisting in a salon before starting to move your way to the floor. Young stylists should also be prepared to potentially work for a departmentalized salon, which means you may only spend time doing a specific vertical such as only color, Brazilian Blowouts, or even just cutting/styling. While this routine may seem mundane for a while, the early phases of your career are essential to building the right skills needed to create a long-lasting and successful career.
If you work in a salon with independent booth space, investing in technology that supports your business will greatly reduce the administrative stress you take on in that role. One of the newer tools on the market, Stylie One, has been a game-changer for me and my career.
MS: What does it mean to you—and your new employer/team—to pay your dues?
KS: Paying your dues is imperative. While it can be frustrating at times especially for eager, young beauty professionals, it’s vital to learn from superiors who have multiple years of experience and understand how to address day-to-day challenges that arise. More importantly, it’s about putting your ego side and laying the groundwork for your future.
MS: How do you manage your starting income? How do you best prepare to grow it?
KS: At first, managing your starting income can be scary but will help ensure long-term longevity. First, sit down and look at all monthly expenses: both business and personal. Once you have an idea of what is needed to break even and live comfortably, you will be able to better understand your capabilities and salon hours. Then, break down what types of service you want to offer as well as how many services need to be scheduled weekly to achieve the base income.
Next, you will want to find the right technology to stay organized. Personally, I use an amazing app called Stylie One to track all my appointments, inventory, client notes, and more while also utilizing its additional marketing features like its automatic reminders. It keeps every part of my business organized, and knowing what I have booked for the week helps me to hit my goal. Also, Stylie One helps manage my relationship with my clients by keeping details on past services and purchases, which helps me recommend add-on services while in the chair to increase my revenue stream.
Finally, one of the key drivers of growth is keeping clients pre-booked. This will help increase the frequency of their visits which maximizes growth potential.
MS: Managing perceptions—among employer, clients and team—the importance of how you present yourself; investing in your professional wardrobe, etc.
KS: In regard to managing perceptions, the best piece of advice is “know who you are.” Understanding your passions and the qualities that define you as a human being are key. Your personality, wardrobe, and workplace demeanor should all be a direct reflection of you. And remember, there are so many unique personalities in this world. If there’s a client who didn’t seem to click with you perfectly, don’t be offended. The right clients will always find their way to you.
MS: How do you manage your starting income? How long is the training program?
KS: In this industry, one of the first lessons to learn from the get-go is “feast and famine.” When things are busy in the salon, save money so you can use it during the inevitable slows periods. Even seasoned stylists in the prime of their careers still experience famines.
As far as training programs, these often may seem lengthy and at times unnecessary. However, they’re there for a reason. In this profession, there are some things that cannot be taught in classroom and must be learned through hands-on experience.
MS: How many months before I will work on the floor/can you afford a long training program of 18-24 months?
KS: Nothing worth doing is ever going to be short or easy. If you’re serious about this career, then start off on the right foot. Two years of training might seem excessive at first, but it’s essential to prepare you for the challenges that you will face on the floor that cannot be mimicked in cosmetology school. Real life is messy, and you need to know how to tackle salon mishaps when they occur. With the right amount of training, you’ll have the capacity to address and fix almost every mistake.
Most importantly, don’t rush through the training process. This may force you to take a part-time job on the side or live more frugally. But in the end, you’ll be happier that you accomplished your goal the right way.
MS: Why it is NEVER too early to start (trying) to save money, set goals and plan for your longer-term future?
KS: No matter your age, it’s never too early or late to start saving. Start small by saving $10 a week or 5 percent of your weekly income. Using technology to track income and sales in real-time greatly helps me stay on track with savings while keeping a hold of my business. Grow your contributions from there as your business thrives and clientele begins to expand. As new opportunities present themselves, use those funds to increase your savings percentage. This allows you to be prepared should you need to invest in new equipment unexpectedly or purchase new products. Only a fool would risk their future by not planning for it.
After working at a salon for nearly a decade, Kate Sparks went independent but found that her initial business management tool didn’t include features that increased productivity or allowed her to customize her online profile. Sparks eventually switched to Stylie One, a business management app built especially for independent beauty professionals. By managing inventory, scheduling, marketing, point-of-sale, and more, Stylie One essential runs Sparks’ business for her. After using it for three years, she has experienced the following results:
- Booked more than 720 appointments
- Saved more than 40 percent in software costs
Helped her make an average of $10,000 monthly Saved multiple hours every week using the Schedule Fresh feature, which handles online booking and sends automatic reminders to keep clients alert and on time