Solo Artist

The Five-Star Stylist

Victoria Wurdinger | December 15, 2015 | 8:48 AM
Judit Hillman has all five-star reviews on Yelp, but only asked for a review once.
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Hair Design by Judit at Phenix Salon Suites features a lime green color scheme, fanciful touches and photos of the soft waves she loves.
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Judit Hillman took this client from dull, dishwater blonde to hair with a healthy shine and a dramatic new color.
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Damaged ends will never do when you offer top-notch service! Judit’s deep conditioning and dimensional color help things along.
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Gold, copper and bronze balayage from Judit Hillman. She currently likes using a hard plastic board for her balayage because it allows her to see if sections are fully saturated underneath.
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In Judit’s world, even sharp cuts look great with a little end movement. Clients trust her enough to finally lose the length.
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Judit Hillman emigrated from Romania to pursue her American dream, but she mastered five-star service before venturing out on her own.

Judit Hillman may have been born in Transylvania, but there’s nothing dark and mysterious about her approach to beauty. “I’m a perfectionist about my work,” says Hillman of her personal style. “Clients at my past, five-star locations had high expectations we had to meet, and because I trained and worked there, I have the approach to luxury service imprinted on me.”

Hillman came to the U.S. 14 years ago at the age of 23, with a dream of attending beauty school. “I always loved fashion and beauty and wanted the possibilities the U.S. offered,” she says. “In Romania at the time, everyone had red hair and the same short cut.”

In school, she interned at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach, CA, and once she became licensed, she worked at the Ritz Carlton salon in Laguna Niguel. When she moved to Colorado, she took a job at a high-end day spa for three years. All three locations had high standards, and she developed a strong work ethic, as well as a one-on-one approach to customer service.

“Clients want to feel comfortable, not crowded, and prefer a relaxing atmosphere,” she says. “They also want to be well cared for and never rushed. As a result, today I may double book sometimes, but I always schedule for at least 30 minutes of alone time with every client, so I can listen to her needs, and learn about her personal style, hair, likes and dislikes.”

Hillman always had working for herself in mind, and when she got a postcard about the new Phenix Suites being built nearby, she took a tour and signed on for her suite, Hair Design by Judit, which is an affordable $185 a week. Besides the fact she could paint and decorate her suite as desired, she loved that the building has a touch screen for walk-ins, so they can find any stylist who is immediately available. Today, she’s been a hairdresser for 14 years and self-employed for six.

Filling Chairs and Keeping Clients

Like most renters, Hillman says about 90% of her clients initially followed her to her suite. To further fill the books, she created a referral program, in which clients get $5 off a service for every referral. (One sent her as many as six.) She also gave clients postcards to hand out, offering new clients 10% off a cut or 20% off a color service, and mailed the cards to new arrivals to the area. Because Colorado Springs is a military town where clients arrive and ship out every 2 to 3 years, she maintains continual business-building efforts.

“My best new approach is to share before and afters of my work on my business Facebook page,” say Hillman. “I get one to three new clients a month from Facebook. Also, I have all five-star reviews on Yelp.”

Nearly 70% of Hillman’s clients have been with her for nearly nine years, and she says her retention goes back to that five-star approach.

“I am all about shiny, healthy hair,” says Hillman. “I always listen to clients, and many say they had past experiences where a stylist did not listen. But I am also all about giving clients a new look. Many want a change but are afraid. I am honest and straightforward about what will and won’t look good on an individual. I always tell them the why of what I am suggesting and how to maintain a new look at home.”

Encouraging and nudging clients into subtle and not-so-subtle changes, Hillman keeps her clients excited and interested in coming back to her. Her signature, healthy hair always includes dimensional, blended color, and cuts that complement a client’s face shape. 

“I am very passionate about my work, and I often attend seminars and hair shows because I believe, you can never learn too much,” adds Hillman. “You can always better yourself!” Sounds like soon, she’ll be a six-star stylist.


Inside Scoop:

Must-see Hair Show: IBS Las Vegas

Fav Online Education: Guy Tang videos

Best Money Saver: Shop the Beauty Supply Stores for sales

Best Add-on Service: Deep-conditioning treatments. A 10-to-15 minute treatment brings in $15 to $20

Average Charge/Color Retouch and Cut: $100. This always includes the blow out—I like to finish details by dry cutting hair.

Schedule: 4 or 5 days a week for 6 to 8 hours. I may work 10-hour days during the holidays when I am very busy or when I am getting ready to go to Europe and want to accommodate time off.

Favorite Tool: The Paul Mitchell conical curling wand.

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