It wasn’t that long ago that someone I was with, someone I loved and trusted told me that being a hairstylist wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t good enough for her, and that I would never make enough money to ever support a family.
She then continued to tell me that it was time for me to grow up and be an adult. That if I wanted to be with with her, I had to get a real job. What seems ridiculous to me now, at the time, I believed her. You see, I had just started at a new salon and wasn’t making much money, and frankly, my own limiting beliefs kept me from seeing my own potential.
In a last-ditch effort to “grow up” and make her happy, I quit doing hair altogether and got a big boy job at a large corporate firm, of which I hated every day. My relationship failed regardless, and after three years of life in a stuffy corporate environment, I found myself clinically depressed and financially ruined, even though I was making more money. I spent money to try to find happiness from material things, and eventually had to declare bankruptcy.
Now at rock bottom, a light bulb went off and I decided to create a plan. Whether I was eager to prove my naysayers wrong or just overcome with my innate entrepreneurial spirit, I decided it was time to fight. I picked myself up off of my parent’s dining room floor where I had been sleeping (I couldn’t afford an apartment) and got a part-time job at Starbucks. I found a cool, little salon to work at - mind you I had zero clients), and got to work promoting myself. Yes, I worked hard at first, but most importantly I focused on working smarter. I built a system for success, and once it started working, the dollars starting rolling in. No longer was I just a hairstylist that could never afford to have a family.
Fast-forward to today - Being an Educator is something I’ve always aspired to do, which is why I created Masters of Balayage (our International Training Company) and BalayageOnline.com (our online training). I never want someone to feel the way I did while I was scraping the bottom of life. If I can provide world-class education and unparalleled business acumen, so that others can succeed without suffering, then I’ve made a positive impact in our world.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Our biggest challenge was getting others to believe that what we teach is valuable. With only a few thousand followers on social media, and little to no track record of success, “selling” your brand to others is difficult. For the first handful of classes, I had to practically beg salon owners to let me teach a class to their staff, mind you, at a highly discounted rate.
It’s really no different than when you begin your job as a stylist, or as a real estate agent (which I tried also). No one is going to trust you sell their home if you’ve never sold a home. Experience is what sells your worth. But how do you get experience without someone giving you a shot? So I begged and pleaded until someone let me teach.
Today, as our brand grows, our experience and track record of positive reviews and testimonials continues to pave the way. We are now grateful to have salon and venue owners reaching out to us, in hopes that their salon will be one of our next stops.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
One of my favorite books of all time, one I consistently refer to when stylists and salon owners ask for my recommendations, is “The E-Myth, why most businesses don’t work and what to do about it” by Michael E., Gerber. Very easy to read, this valuable handbook for success is discusses what it takes for a small business to succeed in a highly competitive environment. With real-world examples, it nails down the do’s and don’ts of necessary elements that entrepreneurs must embrace. One of the biggest challenges in our creative world of hair, most stylists and salon owners refuse to think of themselves as entrepreneurs or “salespersons”. Unfortunately, to be successful, that’s exactly what you have to be. And this book tells you not only why, but how. I would also recommend, “Suite Success: How To Make 6-Figures in a Salon Suite,” which I wrote. How could I not plug my own book?
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
When I first started doing hair, there were celebrity hairstylists and then everyone else doing hair, and the chance of reaching massive success as a non-celebrity hairstylist was rare.
Although my goal was to reach celebrity status so I could rake in the big bucks, my friends and family just saw it as a phase, often asking when I was going to get a real job. Without the support of your parents and peers, your mind takes a beating, and soon you believe that this may just be a phase. Thankfully, I stuck to my gut and stayed the course. No, I wouldn’t have changed anything at all because it got me here. I will, however, support my kids (we have our first due in October!) in whatever venture they choose (unless their goal is to be a famous YouTuber).
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
My entrepreneurial spirit. Without it, I don’t know where I’d be. As an entrepreneur, failing is the norm. But so long as you learn and grow from your failures, the more chances you’ll succeed big in the future.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
Self-comfort. If I could change one thing about my past self, it would be to allow my true self to shine through at an earlier age. Being comfortable with who I am, with all my quirks and idiosyncrasies, make life fun and worth living, and adds a relatable human element to our brand that our supporters respond to.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Never give up. As cliche as that may sound, it’s true. You could fail 99 times out of 100, but so long as you learn and grow from your discoveries, that one success may be all you need. Also, make it a mission to surround yourself with positive, supporting people. As many say, you are the average of the five people you associate yourself with most. So choose those five people carefully.