Refined Beauty
Naperville, IL
Suite Owner/Stylist- Jennifer Alvarez


Meet Suite owner, Jennifer. We connected about a year ago through facebook. As you will see below, her work is truly incredible. She has such a natural talent and an eye for detail. Beautiful, both inside and out, Jennifer is also very intune with the business aspect of this industry. As you will learn from our interview, she gives great insight on how to grow your business behind the chair, how to know when it's the right time to transition to a salon suite, and how to keep your clients coming back for more. 
As always, we hope this interview will motivate you, inspire you, and encourage you, to continue to share your love and passion for the beauty industry. Enjoy and be sure to follow her social pages and check out more of her awesome work! 

1.    What advice would you give to a stylist coming out of school? Be clear on what you want out of your first salon. Is it education? Flexibility? Creativity? When you interview make sure to ask the owner questions, so you know what to expect for your experience working with them.

2.    What should they expect? It will take time to build a steady clientele. You should continue to work on mannequins to perfect your craft during this slower growth phase. Success doesn’t happen overnight!

3.    What makes you a stand out in the industry? I have quite the drive to be the best I can. I love sharing my passion with others and I am a student for life. I’m always trying to grow my skills.

4.    What is your specialty.? The makeover! I can look a person and I just know how I can make them look more attractive.

Refined Beauty


5.    When did you know this would be your career path? Once I was in beauty school is was affirmed I was in the right place. School was difficult for me, but beauty school just felt so natural. I excelled (yep, over achiever. Student of the year... competition winner lol). I loved it!

6.    Can you give some tips on how you utilize social media platforms to grow your business behind the chair? Being consistent and connecting with my audience. Constantly posted inspiration, quotes, my work. It’s a great way to reach potential clients.

7.    Besides giving a great cut and color what do you feel is also important in terms of providing a 5-star experience? Being authentic and genuine. I truly care about the people I serve and want them to feel really good on the inside as well as the outside. I also think educating them on their hair. If we don’t, who will?

8.    Using only 4 words. Describe the most important attributes of a successful stylist? Education, Authenticity, Perseverance, Mentor

9.    What is the biggest misconception people have about hairstylists? That it is easy. We wear many hats. This is a business and we must treat it that way while we serve.

10.    What do you do to keep your clients coming back? I book their appointment ahead of time. I create goals for their beauty and I always treat everyone kindly and give them a full service. I always consult with each of them prior to their service even if I have seen them for 12 years! How do continue to wow your clients year after year! I educate myself to stay on top of trend and technique. I tell them about the classes and travel that I do. I fill them in on my career dreams and passion for the industry.

11.    How did you decide to go from a commissioned salon to a booth rental salon or suite owner? I have been dreaming about my own salon since school. I even won a competition for developing a salon concept (lol over achiever). This experience was a bit forced…a leap of faith. Honestly, I felt like I had no choice. After being with a company for 11 years, I was being pushed out because of our different values and dreams. Most of the salons in my area (in my eyes) are the same; They are all good. However, I knew that good was not good enough. I knew I had so much to offer. Why jump from one salon to the next when it would be a similar experience. How would I grow? I knew the grass was not greener on the other side. I contemplated for 2 weeks on what to do with the next chapter of my life…To give up or preserver? It was embedded in my head that salon suites/ booth rent is a dead end. But was it? I made up my mind that I would change this view point and it started within myself. I made my mind up I would succeed!

12.    How did you know the timing was right? There was a brand- new salon suite that was built 5 minutes from my house. It was outside of the 4.1-mile radius from previous salon (per my 1 year non-compete). It was beautiful, great parking, clean. It was like it was built for me. I wasn’t prepared though. I didn’t have any of my client’s info or products or marketing material. I just had to have faith I was doing the right thing. Many tears and prayers later…everything turned out better then I imagined.

13.    Have you ever felt like giving up on your career? There were 2 times in my career I almost gave up doing hair. The first I had many personal obstacles that I was overcoming (An abusive relationship). I was really lost, literally hurt, and lost my remembrance of why I wanted to be in the industry. After moving around, I finally found I salon that I was able to call home. It was safe (I was safe! Thank you Jesus) and I was able to grow my education and career for 11 years. The second was when I left the salon I was at for 11 years, the comfort zone. I thought: where am I going to go, maybe there is something else I am meant to do…. I cried, prayed, had a lot of thoughts for two weeks. Thankfully my husband allowed my brief craziness then encouraged me to give the salon suite down the road a try. We looked at it four times, lol! Trust me going in the direction of the unknown is scary. He encouraged me (Along with my clients, friends and family) DON’T GIVE UP!

14.    Tell us something not too many people know about you? Well I feel like I have been an open book so far. I have had successes and failures just like everyone else and maybe I’ve experienced more of them then others. You will miss 100% of the shots you do not take. I have had so many great mentors in my career from being a platform artist with Aquage for 6 years working alongside Luis Alvarez, Ann Bray, Eric Fisher and the entire talents team. I have won the Presidential Scholarship twice allowing me to train in London at Vidal Sassoon and a week  with Viviane Mackinder in her home in the Hamptons. I have won the Stars Chicago Photoshoot 3 times and the Leo Passage Award, with the help of my talented friends and photographers. I have entered NAHA 4 times and have NOT been nominated yet, but the learning experience has been instrumental to me. I’m currently training to be a Davines Educator. So, fingers crossed that works out! I’m super passionate about this industry. I take it seriously and I love helping young artists and even entrepreneurs grow their career. I feel like I have just started in the industry even though to most I am seasoned. My dream is to open a salon and grow a team, so I have quite busy with that!


Photo #1 and #2
Photographer: Robert Beczarski
Stylist: Jenin Paradise         

Photo #3 and #4 Photographer: Gene Alvear Clothing:
Dane Vintage Assistant: Kasey Surges Nails: jessica MOnzalvo

Nina Tulio

Oracle Salon
Denver, CO
Meet Owners Bri B. & Hailey H.



I just love these two. I asked them to be my salon blog feature a few months ago and I knew they were fabulous but, come on. I opened my email one morning to find this awesome video THEY created answering some of my blog questions.....with wine in hand! They work together as partners in their business and they share a bit about how they make it work. They are also incredibly talented stylists behind the chair and it shows through their work and through their accomplishments. 

Bri is an award winning work-a-holic that is constantly challenging herself to take everything to a new level, she takes part in many local fashion/hair shows including staffing/organizing the hair and makeup teams for Denver Fashion Week. she takes/teaches continuing education classes at least once a month, styles hair for designers at New York Fashion week twice a year, she specializes in color correction, balayage/hair-painting, vivid hair color, and more! Check out her instagram for more of her work. (Denver RAW Hairstylist of the Year 2014, Colortrak’s Best Mermaid HairColor, Colorado Hairstylist of the Year 2017, Nominated for 2018 and Nominated for SouthWest Colorist of the Year 2018.

Hailey is a Denver local and a mother of two. She is a third generation hair-activist and she has been going steady with the industry for almost 8 years. 
She is a Platinum Color.Key (Educator) for COLOR.ME by KEVIN MURPHY. She has participates every season in Denver Fashion Weekend from styling hair to production team. As a Beauty Underground Artist she has styled hair backstage at NYFW: THE SHOWS for the past 3 seasons. Additionally she has assisted backstage at NAHA alongside Beauty Underground. Check out more of her work on instagram!

As always, we hope this interview will motivate you, inspire you, and encourage you, to continue to share your love and passion for the beauty industry. Enjoy and be sure to follow their social pages and check out more about their salon and their awesome work! xo, Nina

  1.   What has been one of the biggest challenges you faced when opening your salon?
    Bri: Change always comes with challenges. And with challenges comes serious anxiety for some, myself included. Fear of failure is never a reason to move forward, because if you don’t continue on with the next step, then you will only ever be in the same place. And I know there’s many business owners and artists out there who know that if you’re not growing you’re dying. When I opened my first salon in March 2016, I was leaving a salon I really loved with an owner who had been a huge help in getting my business established, I was terrified, but it was time for me to move on. That same weekend I was moving into my new space, I actually had a good friend's wedding booked in New Orleans. I couldn’t cancel on her, she’d been planning this for over a year and I had only just decided to move on that December. But I also couldn’t mess around, I had a full week of clients (typically booked out 6-8 weeks, with no where to put them had I needed to cancel) so the salon had to be ready for us when I got back. I remember landing back in Denver after my trip and my phone wouldn’t stop ringing because the plumbers drilling into the concrete for my shampoo bowls were disturbing the other tenants in the building. The first of many small challenges with that space! Thankfully I have an amazing support system, and my mother and my boyfriend helped me every step of the way through that journey. I worked alone in my 300 sqft salon for about a year and a half before a good friend and travel buddy of mine was looking for a new salon home, and I invited her into my space…our new challenge was trying to fit two stations and a waiting area into that small space. We managed for almost a year while keeping our eyes out for a larger space, when randomly one day, thanks to Craigslist we found our new location in November. It was too good to be true, already being turned into a salon space- we wouldn’t have had to cover the build out, just furnish it. Well the former building owner is one of the worst communicators we’ve ever experienced, and was also the one doing the build out before he was going to sell the building, so we tried to be thankful and stay positive even through his b.s. The lease signing alone went back and forth for two weeks before our lawyer gave us the go ahead to sign. After everything, the building has a new owner and our move in has been smooth sailing- but like Hailey says in the video: There’s always something! 

2.   What 1 piece of advice would you give to other salon owners who are looking to open a hair salon?
We’re just taking it one day at a time. There are definitely going to be salon owners reading this that have experienced way more and have much more knowledge than I do on this subject. Like I said in the video though, do your RESEARCH - because it is insane how much information is out there for you to learn. Run the numbers. Outsource for the skills you don’t have. Keep your overheard as low as possible for as long as possible, and truly give a shit about what you’re creating. Pin point your “why” because that’s the only thing people will follow you for, our guests will return for. If you have a beautiful space but no substance to it, no connection for people to relate to or desire- then it won’t matter. 

3. Tell me the top 3 things that new salon owners should focus on to grow their salon business? There are a few things we would not be where we are without and that is: 

1. Define your culture, again pin point your “why” and build your atmosphere around that.

2. Client Experience, there are literally 100’s of salons to choose from, and details are what makes you stand out. How can you provide amazing hair + an unforgettable experience that keeps them coming back? What is your point of difference?

3. Build Your Ideal Team and make the environment for them, they are what matters most. Listen to your team, let them be heard.

Also, Online Booking (less work for you, and more convenient for your clients and new clients)

4.  How do you make your partnership work? How do you divide the work up between the two of you?  
RESPECT & COMMUNICATION! We began our friendship backstage at NYFW with The Beauty Underground. Since our first season together we have traveled all over the country and a little of Canada together for continuing education. We had a foundation of friendship, mutual respect, and caring to build our business relationship on. We both have the same ideals, belief systems, overall business goals, and we are both very empathetic and intuitive people. BUT our energy’s are totally different which balances us out, our styles are different, I would never want to be in business with someone exactly like me- I would be so annoyed by that person. Going from doing it all alone, to now with a partner I can confidently say that I am so grateful I have someone to share this journey with. As far as division of work goes: We divide the expenses 50/50, (I would say profit too, but we haven’t gotten there yet! ha) and we have no business loans or investors helping us at this time we are operating completely on our own monetarily. I handle a lot of the more technical stuff with the salon, I built and operate the website, all the social media accounts, advertising, etc. Hailey handles the salon itself in terms of ordering product and color, inventory, groceries, weddings, etc. I am a recovering control freak and a serious workaholic (sometimes in an unhealthy way) and Hailey is really great at telling me when to pull over and let her drive for a while. Open and clear communication is the only reason any relationship works, we are always very clear with each other and any time one of us is feeling low- we let the other know, and every time we help each other through it. It is so important to communicate your feelings in a constructive way as you’re feeling them, otherwise those can get pent up and you’ll find yourself acting in a passive aggressive way, and that NEVER does any good. We’re both very into psychology and how the brain works, being educators we believe it’s important to understand why people do what they do, and because of that, we have a very unique understanding of each other. It’s funny in the video how Hailey says, “I can’t read your mind!” Because the longer we work together, the more we learn to predict the other person’s thoughts and feelings, and the better we communicate based on our observations of each other. 


5.   You are a certified, sustainable salon. Tell me why that is important to you and why you made the choice to incorporate this into your salon brand?  
Sustainability is so, so important. For our future, WE DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE. Much like we need to take care of our bodies in order to keep doing hair, we HAVE to take care of our planet in order to have life continue. Fast fashion, oil and plastic are such an integral part of our assets within our daily routines in professional beauty. By joining the network of Green Circle Salons, we can divert around 70 to 90 per cent of what we used to send to landfill. And that is just the beginning.

6. You both are educators. Please talk about the importance of continued education for both new and seasoned stylists in our industry. 
This is HUGE! Especially in other states where its not required, Colorado is one of them. In most other states you are required to log a certain number of hours of continuing education to keep your cosmetology license, this isn’t the case in Colorado, once you pass your state boards you just pay a fee every 2 years. A lot of people don’t know that! Someone can be behind the chair for 30 years and never take another class, this thought sends chills up my spine! But this also gives the people who are hungry for knowledge and do take classes a leg up on the competition. Become an expert in your craft, claim responsibility and take as many classes as you can. Hailey and I have traveled around the

country for education (as educators + as students) so that we can bring that knowledge back into the salon and to our clients. We have an area in the salon where we hold/host classes at least once a month. Don’t just go through life, grow through life. There is always more to learn, I don’t care if you just graduated school or you’ve been behind the chair for 40+ years. Also, TAKE PHOTOS OF YOUR WORK!! How else can you see how much better you’re getting? 

7. What is the most rewarding part of being a salon owner? 
Creating your ideal environment, it is the ULTIMATE FREEDOM! But with great power comes great responsibility, and being successful does not come without A LOT of hard work and sacrifice. But it 100% worth it.

8. Your presence on social media is incredible. Can you give stylists and salon owner your top 3 tips on building a brand and brand presence and also how to attract new business behind the chair through social media?

  1. POST GOOD QUALITY PHOTOS, AND OF WORK YOU’RE PROUD OF (If you don’t like the photo, it’s possible that no one else will, BUT get a second set of eyes, because we are our own worst critics)
  2. Hashtag your location with your ideal client in mind ex. #denverhair #denvermom #denverbalayage #denvervivids #denverbride etc. but also describe the photo ex #pinkhair #pastelminthair #structuredhaircut #creativecolor etc.
  3. Take social media classes, be active in hair forums, pay attention to what other successful salons are doing, and watch videos from @brittseva, @jamiedanahairstylist, and look outside the industry at people like @hilaryrushford









Nina Tulio