Business Builders: How to Find a Niche with Hair-Loss Clients
Before and after service with Jeffrey Paul.
Faced with thinning hair, many clients don't know where to turn, or they are too ashamed to ask for help, but the beauty industry is filled with tools and products to give clients back the confidence that comes with a full head of hair.
Kelli Yoder has a family history of hair loss. Along with her grandmother, mother and sister, she suffers from androgenetic alopecia, also known as female pattern baldness.
Yoder, who is a master stylist at Maggie the Salon in Pembroke Pines, Florida, began attending hair-loss seminars and researching why hair thins and what solutions exist to combat the problem.
“I had such a personal connection to the hair-loss clientele and wanted to help clients who don’t know about the tools out there to help them,” Yoder says.
For years, Yoder took courses and became more and more knowledgeable about hair loss. But something was stopping her from moving forward and building a thinning-hair clientele.
“She was apprehensive,” says Maggie the Salon Owner Maggie DiFalco. “She understood it, but she didn’t know if she could talk to clients about it.”
That all changed with an invitation to MODERN SALON’s first HAIR+ Summit in 2016. DiFalco was unable to attend due to a prior commitment, so she sent Yoder and another stylist instead.
“My co-worker Jen and I were listening to a panel on stage, and at the end, they took questions from the audience,” Yoder says. “Jen encouraged me to ask the panel how to get over my fear of working with thinning-hair clients.”
Yoder explained how she felt intimidated by all the different types of adhesives and glues, and also nervous to approach a client about such a sensitive subject.
“I wanted to feel confident in knowing what I was doing,” she says.
Jeffrey Paul, founder of Jeffrey Paul Restoring Beautiful Hair Salon and Wigs for Kids, was sitting on the panel and saw potential in Yoder.
“I asked her if she had a scholarship and the opportunity to be coached, would she take it?” he says. “And once I did a complete interview with her, I saw she had the knowledge and confidence—she just needed a blueprint for a successful hair-replacement center.”
Paul told Yoder it would take 12 to 24 months to complete the program and encouraged her to decide how she wanted to build her business—with her current clients or in a specialized hair-replacement salon.
“That was the start for me,” Yoder says. “I went to Jeffrey at his academy and spent three days that were totally life-changing.”
IMPLEMENTING A DREAM
When Yoder returned to the salon, DiFalco knew it was time to jump on board and approached her with a plan to turn an unsuccessful treatment room into a mini salon specializing in hair-loss clients.
“We had a facial room that wasn’t taking off,” DiFalco says. “I decided to cut our losses and sell the equipment. If you’re not being productive in one thing, stop doing it and go for something else.”
The result? K&M Hair Systems was born. The room was no longer part of the salon—it’s now its own entity.
“It’s a business that has nothing to do with Maggie the Salon,” DiFalco says. “Kelli and I own it 50/50.”
Because it is located within the salon, they didn’t have to take on rent or most overhead costs that come with launching a business.
“So we ordered a sink for that room and created a self-contained salon with a station, mirror, glues, a styling head and samples,” DiFalco says. “Privacy is important to the hair-loss client, and Kelli can do the whole treatment in that room— we even have a little fridge to we even have a little fridge to offer a beverage.”
The duo also invested in a logo and website for a grand total of about $4,000 to get the business up and running.
Convincing a color client to try a new service can be as simple as displaying a beautiful model shot. A woman who gets a great hair cut is going to tell all her friends who did it. And before-and-after photos posted on social media help promote keratin services.
But these tried-and-true marketing techniques fall short when it comes to clients with hair loss. These guests aren’t telling their friends about a new hair system that’s supplementing their real hair, and they probably don’t want before-and-after shots plastered all over Facebook.
DiFalco and Yoder knew marketing was going to be one of their toughest battles, so they started by asking the staff at Maggie the Salon to talk to guests with thinning hair about the new business and make appointments for Yoder to do consultations.
“I talked to all our stylists and put my cards at the front desk and color table,” Yoder says. “One of our stylists has a guest who is trying to prevent hair loss and was asking what he should use to thicken his hair. “The stylist recommended talking to me, and once we were connected, I was able to do a consultation and eventually order him a custom hair piece.”
This client was ready to start wearing a hair system, and Yoder says having the private space was crucial.
“He doesn’t want anyone to know he has it, and we will work him into more hair in years to come—maybe add an inch every year so it looks like he’s regrowing his own hair,” she says.
Yoder and DiFalco also hosted a party where they explained how some of the hair systems worked, and Yoder did demos.
“We already had a live audience we thought would be interested,” DiFalco says. “So we targeted them and got four or five clients right off the bat from our own Maggie salon guest list.”
They also launched a website and became active on social-media platforms with the intent of educating potential clients.
BY THE NUMBERS
Pricing for hair systems varies greatly depending on the products used, how much hair the client is replacing and whether it’s a custom piece.
Yoder uses hair systems from Jeffrey Paul, orders tapes and adhesives from distributors, and uses Maggie the Salon’s product line, Eufora.
Although she has a few hair pieces for clients to see and touch, she does not keep many in stock because all orders are customized.
Clients can spend from $600 to $2,200 depending on how much hair they want, the quality and whether it’s custom.
“That price is about four times what we pay for it,” Yoder says. “Average maintenance is about $85-$100 monthly.”
The price is based on an hourly rate, which Yoder says she determined through a learning process.
“In our area, there’s only one other person who is doing any hair replacement,” she says. “I am working on getting every type of piece available. I want to be able to offer my clients whatever they are looking for.”
As she works on getting her budding business off the ground, Yoder falls back on her own experiences to have the tough conversations with clients.
“I feel very connected to my guests because I’m a hair-loss client, too,” she says. “I want to get the best option for them.”
DiFalco has no doubt her business partner will be successful. “Kelli is strong in customer service and conversations with guests,” she says. “And she’ll only get stronger as she services these new clients and listens to their problems.”