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2017 was the best year of my life professionally without a doubt.  

That doesn’t mean it was all rainbows and sunshine, believe me, I had some real lows.  I overworked myself herniating 3 discs in my neck rendering me completely useless for over 3 weeks.  I overstressed myself and ended up with the shingles (worst thing EVER!).  I traveled for a total of 24 days more than I promised my family I would and ended up having to make it up to my hubby and babies who were missing me terribly.

Even through all of that, this was by far my best year yet professionally because of all the lessons I’ve learned.  I am stepping in to 2018 SO completely differently than I’ve ever headed into a new year and I want you to do the same.

Here are the biggest lessons I learned in 2017 and how you can apply them to your business as a hair stylist:

 

You don’t know what you don’t know

I came to term with the fact that even though I’ve accomplished a lot and have taken a ton of education, I still have SO much to learn.  No matter how successful or educated you are, you don’t know it all and you aren’t running your business perfectly.  I paid the big bucks (way bigger than however much you’re imagining right now) to participate in a very high end coaching group and every single time I met with my group I walked away mind blown at how much I didn’t know.  These people were pointing out problems that I wouldn't have even seen in my business had I not opened myself up to their coaching.  There is always somebody out there more effective, efficient and successful than you and you’ve got to humble yourself and be open if you really want to level up.

Feel the fear and do it anyway

I am now not afraid to try anything.  Sometimes I try things and they end up a hot mess, but who cares, life goes on.  My biggest successes this year came when I tried things that scared the sh*t out of me and, oh my gosh, did they explode my business.  Nobody became successful playing it safe.  Push hard and get outside of your comfort zone.

No personal electronics after 8:30pm

This happened on a whim and WHOA, game changer.  At 8:30pm my laptop closes, cell phone goes off and they are fully off limits until the next day.  I instantly started falling asleep faster, sleeping more soundly, and I now spend the entire evening connecting with my family or reading a great book instead of mindlessly scrolling Instagram or answering random emails.

Be present at least 3 times a day

You probably go days and days without being present and you don’t even realize it.  As often as I can I slow down and just watch in detail how my baby plays games with his race cars, I soak up the sound of my daughter’s laugh and the way her eyes squint as she smiles, I talk a walk holding hands with my husband without ear buds in and I listen to the leaves crinkle beneath our feet and watch trees sway in the wind as we talk about our day.  See what I mean?  It’s really easy to let life happen around you vs tuning in and fully being present.  

Say no to anything that doesn’t light you up

I said no to some killer, once in a lifetime, dream opportunities in 2017 and I have zero guilt.  In fact, I’m super proud of myself for putting my personal happiness before work-related trips or engagements.  This doesn’t mean I love every single task I do, but I’m super in tune with my priorities now and I’m finding the more I say no out of obligation or FOMO, the happier I am overall.  

Don’t ever compare yourself to others, you never know what their journey is really all about

Confession, I used to get jealous just like everybody else.  I would see somebody who had more followers than me or who was given some awesome opportunity and I would say “why not me”.  This Summer I put blinders on and started focussing on just myself, my tribe and my students and holy sh*t life became so much happier.  I am on my own journey and the less energy I spend wasted on wondering what somebody else may or may not be doing, the more time I’ll have to design my own dream life.

You’re never going to be everybody’s favorite and the only opinion of you that matters is your own

I heard through the grapevine that somebody didn’t like me and then spent the next 48 hours tearing myself apart to figure out where I had gone wrong.  Literally, WTF.  What a waste of time.  Not everybody has to like me and I certainly don’t like every single person I meet, so who cares!  If you hear anything negative about you, somebody makes fun of you or a mean rumor starts, let it run it’s course and roll off your back.  Who freaking cares! The only person who matters at the end of the day is you.

You are enough and perfection doesn’t exist

I. Am. Enough.  This was big for me.  I spent a lot of time the first half of this year feeling like I needed to jump through hoops or rise to every single occasion and I was killing myself (and giving myself shingles and herniating my neck) and never ever did I reach the final hoop or feel like I accomplished it all.  It actually wasn’t until I came to terms with the fact that I am enough did I find true happiness.  I need to be balanced, fulfilled, say no, love myself and quit comparing if I am every going to truly be happy.

I hope my best lessons of 2017 can help to bring you some peace and guidance as you head in to 2018 too.

Be sure you join me for my totally free, totally online goal setting workshop coming up the last week of December so that we can ensure your 2018 is the best year it can possibly be.

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Salon walk-out's happen every day and I'm constantly messaged by blindsided salon owners who are left to pick up the pieces.

Salon owners who send me messages like this one:

"Do you have any advice on what to do when your staff leave to open their own salon? I now need to find all new stylists with a following and experience. What can I do, PLEASE HELP!"

or this one:

"This summer I had a mass exodus of my nearly full staff. One girl snuck around behind my back, started her own salon literally a block away from me, and she took over half of my booth renters with her. Obviously, this was traumatizing and devastating to my business. I have been very lucky to find 3 more booth renters rather quickly. But I still have 3 booths to fill. Do you have any advice at all? My salon is one of the top salons in the area, and has nearly perfect reviews and a great reputation. I just don't want to appear as desperate as I am, but i've considered reaching out to individual stylists via messenger asking if they are interested" 

 

If you know me, you know I don't mince my words.  When there is a walk-out in your salon, it is your fault.

I'm sorry to say it, but it's true and here's why.  Nobody joined your salon in hopes of leaving one day.  They really and truly didn't.  They thought you had a pretty good salon to work at, joined hoping for the best and at some point you didn't meet their expectations and they started looking elsewhere.

Now, this wasn't always the case.  For years salon owners held all the cards and eager stylists just felt lucky to have a decent and fairly happy salon. 

Sometime around 2011 that all changed and this new generation of stylists flipped the script and turned the industry on it's head.  We are now living in a world where it's never been easier to open your own salon and walk outs are all too common.

Don't panic yet....I promise I have good news.  Most of these stylists really, REALLY don't want to have to leave you.  They would prefer not to have the stress and overhead of salon ownership and would much prefer to just be a happy booth renter or employee making great money with good people.

If you are a salon owner who is hoping to avoid a walk out or recover from a recent exodus, here are the 5 reasons why stylists choose to leave you:

 

The team doesn't feel like they can talk to the owner

As a former Salon Director myself, I know first hand that even the happiest of employees or booth renters still have things to complain about.  This is the nature of the beast.  As humans we show up to any situation with our own ideas, style ideas, inspiration and  preferences and it's human nature to think that our own ideas are the best ideas and to want to share those opinions with the world.

I have talked to so many salon owners who have said:

"If one more stylist complains to me about something, I'm going to lose my mind"

Not me.  I wanted to know ALL the feedback.  I wanted to know what stylists were unhappy and complaining in the backroom, who was secretly stealing tubes of color, which stylists were finding inspiration on social media that could help our team as a whole and any other concerns that my team might have.

Does that mean I took all of their advice and fulfilled every request?  Heck no! Not even close, but I fostered an environment where my team knew that they could 100% trust me, I would always listen to their ideas, my door was always open and I would never judge them for their suggestions.  

The other cool thing is that your team might have some BRILLIANT ideas that don't cost a bunch of money or take a lot of time.  The more feedback you can get the better.

The end result was that I knew ALL the secrets and we didn't ever have a walk out.  The team felt like I was giving them the absolute best of my abilities and that was good enough.

If you get upset when stylists offer feedback, don't have structured meetings (even with your booth renters) or you aren't checking in with your team often, you're losing touch and creating the gap.

The stylists feel like they have outgrown the salon

If you have a truly open door policy like I did, trust me, your team will tell you about ALL of their "brilliant ideas"

My team was always showing me the Instagram accounts and websites from other salons they admire.  They talked about cool new marketing strategies and came to me in support of their efforts which I always dove in to head first.

Salon's today need to be leveling up each and every year.  Seriously.  Every....single...year you've got to shake it up.  Sometimes it's a fresh coat of paint, new modern wall hangings, upgraded amenities, a fresh website, a new retail line.  

If your salon isn't evolving and improving, logic tells us that it's slowly dying.

We work in an industry that requires we stay current, modern and on point with our Target Market.  

If you've settled in and not much has changed, stylists will start looking elsewhere for the next hot spot.

The salon doesn't offer all of the options that the stylists feel like they need

We are working in such an incredible time because there is no shortage of specialty service options for stylists today.

Stylists are doing extensions, specialty texture services, conditioning treatments, braiding, up-dos, bridal styling, make-up, tanning, waxing, micro-blading, the list goes on and on.

Real talk: the owner of my salon wouldn't allow the stylists on our team to offer makeup services and that was the closest we ever got to a walkout.

A group of three amazing and talented ladies were headed out to open their own salon because they liked the idea of offering makeup and tanning because they loved both.

Seriously.  That was the reason.  

They would have taken on massive overhead to do it, their families would have invested tens of thousands of dollars, but it felt worth it to finally have what they wanted.

Sure seems way easier to be open to them offering makeup services now, right?!?

There isn't a strong team or family dynamic

Gone are the days of the truly independent stylist.  Now, that doesn't mean that everybody wants to be an employee, but it does mean that we are craving a world where we are part of something bigger.

Stylists are dying to work at salons likes Nine Zero One where it looks like all of the stylists are having a blast and are truly friends.  I was just hearing a story the other day about a stylist who was paying thousands of dollars and hours of time hoping to become an educator with a brand specifically because she "wanted to be a part of the movement".

We often spend more hours with our co-workers than we do with our own families each week, so we better be having a damn good time doing it!

Think about this.....if you got in to two squables; one with your sister and one with some girl you've barely gotten to know in the past year.  Which relationship are you going to nurture and try to resolve?  It would be easy to let the girl you barely know fall to the wayside, but falling out with a family member takes a toll.

At my salon we were a family.  Through good times and bad times, we had each others backs and that is a HUGE part of the reason I was there and also the reason we had commission stylists producing over $250K behind the chair each year and choosing to stay on commission.

They weren't there for the money, they loved our family and didn't want to turn their back on the love and relationships we'd all built.

Stylists feel like they can make more money by going elsewhere

When you ask anybody in any industry why they work where they work, money is never the top motivator, but at the end of the day it is a reason why we do what we do.

As I've already explained, if you've built a strong team, listen to their concerns, allow them to grow and support their ambitions, they'll actually take a pay cut to be a part of that, but when any or all of those perks fade away the money really does start to talk.

If you do things like reduce retail commissions, 1099 stylists instead of paying their employee taxes, apply product charges before commissions are split you can expect that your team will question their compensation package.

The irony of all of this is that most stylists who leave a salon saying that their reason is "because I think I can make more money" really aren't leaving for that reason.  That is the easy rationalization, but if the salon they were at was a modern team with innovative marketing, carried a well established and trending brand and they were given room to grow, money wouldn't be a factor.

See why money really can't ever be the rational reason?

 

If you're reading this post-walk-out, please know that my heart aches for you.  I get it and I know the pain of feeling like you're living on the edge of losing it all.

The beauty is that now you know why this happened in the first place and we can start working to prevent it from ever happening again. 

 

 

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Mo money, mo problems is a real thing.

Trust me, I remember being 22, newly licensed and dreaming of the day I was a stylist making six-figures spending my Summers sipping cocktails out of coconuts with tiny umbrellas and twirly straws.

Seriously, that’s what I thought it would look like when I made it big.

The reality of a successful stylists life somes has a touch of that, but it comes with it’s fair share of struggles too and it’s time we openly talk about it.

While I want you to keep pushing hard for success, I want to prepare you for the tough times too and set you up for happiness in the years to come.

Here are the 6 big challenges that successful stylists today face and how to overcome them:

Your peers may become upset, judgmental or cold

We all know that change is scary and generally speaking nobody likes change.  Any stylist who is successful today will tell you they’ve heard the dreaded “you’re just not the same as you used to be” which unfortunately has such a negative connotation.

The ironic thing is that our goal as humans IS to grow and change.  If we aren’t growing, we are slowing dying so it’s funny how as we change often those around us become saddened rather than celebrating our success.

Often when our peers seem disappointed or disheartened by your changes, it stems from jealousy and disappointment in themselves.  

Try and keep in mind that in 20 years you’ll only look back and reflect on your own choices.  You won’t care what anybody else thought any more and you’re fully responsible for the life you’re creating.  This life is about making yourself happy, never forget that.

Your clients will begin to leave you

The fear of losing clients is the reason why most stylists put off price increases, stay in bad salons for way too long, delay schedule changes that they so badly want to have.

Here’s the reality….clients will leave you.  Period.  Very few clients will be loyal to you for 30+ years and follow you for your entire career and that is totally okay.  In fact, this is a great thing because you’d probably be completely bored doing the same 100 heads of hair over and over and over month after month for 30 years.

As you raise prices, change locations, change your schedule some clients will leave you BUT you’ll also become even more appealing to new clients who want to pay more for services or value the lifestyle changes you’re making.  

You’ll need to break up with some of your clients

Funny, but so true because you really will have to let some of your clients go.  You may not have experienced it yet, but successful stylists do hit a point where they’ve done three price increases in a year, their entire clientele pre-books and they still have no room for new guests so they need to start prioritizing their efforts.

When this happens a stylist does sometimes choose to eliminate all clients who don’t get color services or maybe take every Saturday off and just start enjoying more free time.

This will leave some clients high and dry but you can totally navigate this.

The best thing you can do is to make your guests feel well cared for.  Be open and honest, don’t beat around the bush.  

I’ll be sharing some great verbiage you can use when making the announcement here on my Facebook live page today at 10:00am PST.

You can become obsessed in an unhealthy way

Listen I proudly say on the regular that we are working in the best industry on the planet. How lucky are we that our job in a nutshell is creatively doing hair, making people feel beautiful and showing off our work on social media.  I mean, that freaking rocks.

The problem is when your love of the industry becomes an obsession because you will miss out on life around you and it’s a really slippery slope.

I’ll never forget the email I received from a stylists spouse earlier this year begging me to ask her to please put her phone down, leave the Instagram alone and focus on her family for a change.

It breaks my heart when I ask stylists where they last went for vacation and they say “well I haven’t been on a real vacation, but I did go to a great hair show this year and that’s my kind of vacation”.

I question this industry when stylists say they feel guilty about calling in sick or taking a two-week trip because they are worried their clients will be mad.

All of that is true insanity to me.  What are we doing this for if it’s not to support a beautiful personal life.  There has to be a life beyond our work.  You must have passions and interested outside of hair, because one day you won’t be doing the hair anymore and the life and memories you’ve created will be all that you’re left with.

You’ll burn yourself out and hit a breaking point

Often a stylist who starts reaching great success don’t want to tackle the three things I mentioned above, so instead they bend over backwards to make it all continue to happen.

I’ve coached incredible educators who are still behind the chair 5 days per week, hop on a plane Saturday night, teach Sunday and Monday and show up back behind that chair on Tuesday.  By the time they call me they are burnt out, over it and desperate for a solution.

I’ve coached incredible stylists who technically work only 3 days a week but are pulling 12-14 hour days to squeeze every last butt into that chair.  You can maintain that pace for a while, but trust me, you will burn out.

I don’t think anybody got into this industry to be overworked, exhausted and resentful which is exactly where you’ll be if you don’t regain control quickly.

You’ll hit a glass ceiling and feel lost in the world

You’ve probably heard me say before that you’ll never max out as a stylist and your income potential is limitless.

That is fully true, but often successful stylists do hit a point where they crave more.  Having a maxed out schedule or being a successful educator and making great money is fulfilling for a while, but as humans we are generally looking to work for the next goal.  

So what do you do when it doesn’t feel like there is a next goal?  When you feel like the only way to grow is to just take more clients, or teach more classes or open a salon of your own and none of that even feels fulfilling?

Tune in to my Facebook live and we’ll talk about that at 10am PST.

 

As somebody who has coached hundreds of stylists who are 10, 20, 30 years in to this industry, my best advice is for you to spend a few years working like most people won't so that you can spend the rest of you life working like most people can't. 

Throw a tiny umbrella in that coconut cocktail and celebrate the beautiful life you've built more often than not.

XOXO