Stylist Spotlight

Beginner’s Smarts

Lauren Salapatek | October 1, 2015 | 1:11 AM
If you want to keep building business, stay hungry, says Sally Russell.
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Russell’s chair at Häus of Color in Bantam, CT, gives her the quiet, personal workspace that she prefers.
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Russell posts all her makeovers and keeps portfolio of befores and afters at her chair.
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Brass, roots and color bands are no problem when you get certified from color companies, and certifications make you stand out, says Russell.
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Beginner’s Smarts

Sally Russell knew before she was licensed that rental was her goal. Her proactive approach made it happen fast.

After a few months at her first job at Häus of Color in Bantam, Connecticut, Sally Russell told the owner she wanted to switch from commission to rental.

“She told me it took her six years for her to rent, and asked me if I was sure I knew what I was doing,” recalls Russell, who got her cosmetology license in 2014. “But I knew rental was where I wanted to be and entrepreneurship is in my blood.”


Build it and They Will Come

Russell made the rental request as soon as she knew she’d break even. Then, she boosted word-of-mouth with a referral program that gave both clients and those they referred 10 percent off a visit. Next, she put her social media plan into action, posting promotions that required little financial investment.

“From January through June, every time a client came in, I entered the person’s name in a raffle for a year’s worth of haircuts,” she says. “But if anyone referred a new client, his or her name went in the raffle three times for each referral.”

Another thing that worked to Russell’s advantage was the fact that the other three renters were extremely busy and not available for walk-ins. “I’m in the salon six hours a day for six days a week; they only come in for bookings,” she says. “Also, I do it all, from perms and relaxers to updos and eyelash extensions. They rarely want to do those services. I keep a portfolio of all my work at my station, to show everything I do.”

Bent on success, Russell also made herself stand out by standing by her work, no matter what. “If anyone is not happy, I insist on fixing what they don’t like,” says Russell. “Even if I have to redo an entire color job, I’d rather that than have a client walk out and not come back.”


Set For Success

Other tactics Russell uses include pre-booking whenever possible and making inviting suggestions to those who don’t pre-book, so they still think about the next visit. For instance, she will suggest a color shift “for next time,” or even offer a free deep conditioning treatment during the next visit, if a regular loyalist did not pre-book.  

“Every day I want to be better and busier than the day before,” notes Russell. To be ready for a full book, she made certain all her bases would be covered with an initial $1,000 order for Wella color. She chose the brand, she says, because she could order several shades in every other level, and use the pure pigments to create any nuanced shade she was missing.

“I custom mix color a lot; it’s fun, and Wella makes it predictable,” says Russell, who also uses Joico for intense, vivid shades.

With nearly half of her six days at her station delightfully busy and the others with some bookings, Russell uses free time to boost her education. Local, smaller shows and CosmoProf store classes are among her favorites. “CosmoProf classes are such a value at $25, I go to all of them that I can,” she says.



Extra online education: The Hairstylist Education Forum on Facebook and the website. On the Facebook forum, I can post a photo of a cut or color I’m doing, ask a question and in two minutes, I have 30 responses.

Money-Saver: I measure my color. I got in the habit because when I was in the school clinic, the instructor saw how much I was wasting and had me put it all in a coffee can and weigh it. He told me how much money it represented. Then he said, once you have a job and see 10 clients a day, image how much money that is.   

Fave Color Technique? Balayage. You can do so much with creative, freehand balayage, and make it individual for the client.

Best-selling Retail Product: Sebastian’s MicroWeb Fiber, which both men and women like.

Best Add-on Service: Ones that don’t cost me a lot but have a good profit and high impact, like Sebastian Cellophanes.

Favorite Tool: The Babyliss PRO thin flat iron—I can straighten, curl and wave hair with it—and the Paul Mitchell Carving Comb.

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