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Finding your hustle and building a clientele

I'll never forget that bittersweet feeling of holding that beautiful cosmetology license in my hand.  All my hard work had paid off and it was time to leave the safe bubble of school and step out in to the scary cold real world.  Okay, it's not that scary, but I was pretty terrified.  I had already landed my dream job but I knew that was the tip of the iceberg in my journey to become successful in the industry.  My mind was spinning and I was overwhelmed thinking about the uncertain future laying out ahead of me.  

I think the best decision I made was in going to a salon that offered an incredible assisting program.  I had class 6 hours a week, worked an additional 40 and loved every second of it.  I was completely immersed in their culture and felt like I was learning every second of every day.  By the time I had completed the one-year program I had learned more about haircolor than I thought was humanly possible, I knew a dozen hi lighting patterns and I could finally cut confidently with a razor.  Every body hugged me and cheered as I got my graduation certificate and the next day I walked in, stared at my station and panicked.  How was I ever going to fill this chair 5 days a week.  I had just moved to the area and all my family and friends lived at least an hour away so I couldn't even count on calling in favors to at least feel busy for a while.  My salon rarely got walk-ins and none of the existing clients were jumping at the chance to see the brand new girl.  I had two choices.  I could either cry or get busy.  I chose to hustle.

I worked tirelessly for a year and at the end of my first year styling I made almost $35,000 in commissions and tips.  Not bad for a brand new stylist who wasn't taking walk-in's.  If you are ready to get your hustle on too, here is what filled my chair that first year:

  1. Mail out postcards to everybody.  I pulled out my address book and mailed a postcard letting every single person I'd ever known that I was doing hair.  If you don't have mailing addresses, email works too.  Just have a graphic designer help you put together a cute JPEG you can have printed at a local print shop or online printing company or email out.   I'll tell you that my postcard was so ugly and looking back I could have done a way better job.  I mailed out about 125 cards and got 3 clients this way which I could have at least tripled if I had put more effort into my image.
  2. Ask close family and friends to give your card or postcards to their coworkers.  My husband is the most amazing man on the planet for many reasons, but one of the reasons is because he was always giving out my card for me.  Your friends and family love you so make them do a little work for you.
  3. On Sundays we wear top knots.  What I mean is I was committed to looking great Monday-Saturday and then on Sunday I allowed myself to throw on yoga pants, leave the make-up off and throw my hair into a top knot.  The rest of the week I had full hair and makeup so that I looked fashionable and ready to hand out a card to the cashier at Safeway, the server at our restaurant or the adorable girl helping me at Nordstrom.  I literally got 3 cashiers at Safeway to start seeing me, no joke.
  4. Let your hair be a conversation piece.  My hair is currently beautiful, but boring warm brown.  When I was building my clientele my hair was a gorgeous and vibrant red and I was glossing my color every 3 weeks so that it was always nice and fresh.  People would literally stop me on the street to compliment me on my color which was opened the door right up for me to hand out a card.  
  5. Hit the streets.  If there wasn't a client in my chair I was going door to door at the local businesses handing out my card and a gift certificate for $20 off a clients first visit.  I got a ton of clients this way!! It is intimidating at first, but you never know who is looking for a new stylist and the worst thing anybody can say to you is "no thanks".  The key to this technique is to be confident and, trust me, it works.  
  6. Never say "no" when the receptionist asks if you can take a client.  I see some new stylist now cringe when a men's cut walks in or turning down a haircut at the end of the day.  Listen, I was tired of scraping loose change from my car to buy my morning Starbucks.  I was eager to take any client that wanted to sit in my chair.  Be the person who always says "yes" and it will grow your business.

Above all else, smile and be confident.  These are just a few hot tips.  Commit to trying at least one new technique this week. I have a lot more, in depth marketing ideas so tune in for more. xoxo