FEATURE SALON OWNER APRIL EDITION

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

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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