Let’s be honest. Haircolor trends come and go, but the ombré remains. It’s been called many things and no matter how you achieve that shadowroot, blurmelt or sombre, transitional color is a staple in the salon. Clients consistently bring images of soft, rooted colors in all tones, magazines and movies feature glorious tresses with shine melting like butter, and even with pastels, we are seeing this blurred edge to haircolor.
Not to worry, this isn’t about reinventing the ombré wheel! I was thinking about the bigger picture, about the haircolor industry as a whole and it brought up some interesting questions. In searching for answers, I found opportunity to understand just what it takes to be successful in this industry. If you’re a curious creative type who wants to build a rad career, read on.
I bring up ombré because every one of us has been touched by its presence over the past 5 years (or longer…see 1990’s supermodel Claudia Schiffer!) That kind of widespread, long lasting trend could be considered an epidemic, except that it is making everyone lots of money, and even making some celebrities!! This made me think beyond the artistry of balayage and to the business and marketing of trends and brands.
Full disclosure, I educate for a major brand and we have amazing techniques and colors to support any effect one could want to create, but I’m not here to write about that side. I want to share some insights I found about building a successful brand, making money behind the chair and away from it, and living a full, balanced life. I interviewed several inspiring humans in the industry, all very successful business owners, stylists, and educators and it was fascinating to hear all their stories.
Most interesting fact….No one got there alone. From day one, teamwork and the idea that sharing information and success would elevate everyone involved were evident in all the success stories I encountered. Imagine your favorite band without roadies, costumes, fans or great hair! Not so awesome right? In the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, he discusses the idea that practice and effort do in fact prepare those who achieve success for that role. It takes 10,000 hours to master any one thing.
So, how do we begin to master the art of marketing in an industry that is constantly changing and evolving? Some will outsource to professional marketing companies and agents, some will conquer the social media mountain alone, and others will simply be at the right place at the right time, but there is a common denominator, to be seen and heard. Why does that motivate us? Aside from money, it seems to be a desire to be recognized by the community and also, to share knowledge.
AS A STYLIST BEHIND THE CHAIR
When we start any journey, there is often a map or guide to help us along the way. In the salon, that is the consultation! A simple little conversation that sets the stage for any service from major transition to routine maintenance.
Another impactful way to share stories is visually, using any of the social media platforms available today…. How many times a day do we post the fun events, share selfies of our fabulous lives and even enjoy the luxury of a filter or two? The answer is often and so do our clients! Think in terms of referrals and new clients. With each post you make on social media, you reach a specific audience. When you repost a client selfie, the audience is double, their friends and yours.
Now add in hashtags and recognizable brands, using the power of the internet as a giant networking party. Clients are looking online for their next style and stylists are advertising themselves online. Those making a splash have a visible presence and relevant content. Salons too are on the bandwagon with Instagram pages and websites highlighting stylists, events, clients and even featured products and services.
The key to all of this social media is understanding that it’s a calling card…it’s creates accessibility and open doors for the community and makes networking easy. Think back to the business mixer. A group of 20-30 somethings awkwardly gathered to try and find common ground to support each other’s endeavors.
Now, look at today’s business mixer. An almost unlimited group of 20-80 something’s, searching for specific information and open to new ideas at the same time. Those who have a presence will be seen and have continued opportunity to grow. This leads me to volunteering in your community. With exposure comes opportunity and using that to empower and inspire others is part of the deal. Use your voice to raise up the community around you, inspire new apprentices o and give back more than just money. From volunteering at school plays to offering services for battered women restarting their lives, there are 1000 ways to get involved.
AS A SALON OWNER
It’s no longer just a great haircut. There is more value placed on the experience and teaching clients how the service can be recreated at home everyday. That’s the key…. Consultation and education! How we execute the service behind the chair is equally as important as how the client replicates that hair at home. We need both the technical and business side to be successful and must incorporate all aspects of our business within those experiences. Everything has to be on purpose!! Having the technical skills is important but remember that a client will forgive and forget an uneven haircut or a toner mistake, but chances are, they won’t forget a bad experience or customer service. Would you?
As my business coach Liz Rose says “Your heels have to be the have same height if you don’t want to topple over.” Take a look at the balance and make adjustments as necessary. Nothing happens overnight but taking the first steps to managing your business will give you noticeable results. Setting goals and achieving them is exciting!
For the modern salon owner, social media serves one purpose….the new referral. It’s not the amount of followers…all clients and friends are your referrals and those intentional followers are the most important. Make sure you are following clients and vice versa, their friends can see their posts and you! Connect with the actual clients sitting in your chair! The number one way to grow business remains referral and retention. Keep your social media pages totally professional and hair related. Have the most people in your community seeing your work by networking with local businesses and making sure that clients are tagging you and your salon when they visit.
All these things are great, but if everyone is doing it, how do we stay competitive? Remember….the price directly corresponds to the EXPERIENCE. Think about relevant pricing in a saturated market. What’s your demographic and desired clientele? Set prices based on that and create an experience for your clients. Research shows that 85% of clients stay with a salon because of experience, not technical service. A client does not know the difference between a good hair cut and an exceptional haircut but they certainly know the difference between good service and exceptional service. It goes beyond offering coffee and a few magazines…consistent offerings of retail, remembering birthdays, listening more than talking, and suggesting subtle changes to keep things fresh are 4 major things clients look for in a salon experience.
AS AN EDUCATOR
Whether you are a freelance artist, educating under your own brand or an artist for a consumer brand, there is a clear advantage to having a strong social media presence. The exposure is expanded beyond your community of clients and friends, to a larger community of stylists, a national, even global network. Many artists share education videos on YouTube, Instagram and even Facebook to get even more brand recognition outside of salon education. Quick tutorials for colorists, upstyles clients can do themselves, empowerment and coaching can all be found at the click of a button.
What sets these artists apart is basic, but nonetheless important. Number one, the images used are cultivated and curated to set the tone, essentially beginning the experience with one glance. Look at your favorite hair gurus and beauty pages…what do they make you feel? Secondly, there is an authenticity to the pages that comes from being open to sharing all aspects of professional and sometimes personal life. Sharing individual style and how that plays out in real life is an important way to connect with a digital audience. Showing your audience that you give back to the community, empower others, and come from a place of gratitude creates opportunity for instant connection.
Last but not least, an affiliation with major brands remains a common denominator. If you use them, tag them. If you love them, share them. It’s not about working for the brand or being a brand ambassador, although that is a nice job if you choose it! More importantly, affiliating with the brands and trends clients and stylists are searching for will lead them to you. Connecting the dots between education, stylist and client is a great way to look at the mystery of hashtags. There are over 14 million public posts under #hairstylist and 9.9 million for #ombre!! Check out brands like #loreal with 3.3 million, #wella with 2.4 million, and #paulmitchell with 1.4 million. That’s a lot of shared experiences and tapping into the network is as easy as using the pound sign.
Back to where curiosity all began, the ombré…it’s one trend, one style, and almost 10 million people are talking about it. Did you know trends have an average lifespan of about a 12 months? The first wave is usually the fashionable, the hipsters and everyone on the fringe, willing to try something new and unique. The second wave is the urban sprawl, where the trend reaches the masses and explodes. Everyone is on board and there is no escape. At this point, the trendsetters are already looking ahead and creating the next first wave. By the time a trend is on its way out at the end of the year, even those without access to digital media have been exposed to some extent. Right now, in the Middle of Nowhere, USA, stylists are doing ombré.
So, where are you in the social media trend? Are you just getting started? Great! Are you a seasoned blogger with a cultivated following? Awesome, I want to follow you!! Have you found something new and exciting on the horizon? Fantastic, I want to follow you too! Using the power of social influence to grow your roots not only behind the chair, but across the industry makes us all stronger and elevates the craft of hairdressing.
No matter where you are in the social media game, it never hurts to get stronger from the ground up. Start with creating an exceptional client experience, build relationships within your community, be courageous in asking for support and remember, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Get inspired by others leading the way, challenge yourself to take risks and let the client experience you deliver speak for itself. Be consistent and celebrate your progress as well as your challenges! You’ve got this luvvies…
Special thanks to @lizroseredken, @chrissulimay, @hotrollergirl for their inspiring contributions and @ihatetomhuynh, my number one photographer.
@curlygirlontheroad offers custom, in-salon education for stylists, by stylists.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and booking inquires.