Getting Back to Basics
Wednesday. This day is always a crap-shoot at the salon. Some Wednesdays are hopping…but many are so very, very slow. For most of 2013, going to work on Wednesday was like whizzin’ in the wind. I worked on other things a lot on Wednesdays, and that was the reason I chose hump-day for a blog post. I can bring my laptop to work and blog away during the down-time, but slow days always get me thinking about getting back to basics.
So far in 2014, every Wednesday has been booked solid for me. I’ve been slow on Tuesday, or Thursday, maybe even on Friday (???), but Wednesday has been great. I’ve enjoyed that, for a change.
My Dream Job
I’ve been working in the beauty industry since I was in college. I told Madre, starting at about age 11, that I wanted to be a hairstylist. All of my Barbies had rockin’ haircuts, and so did some of my other dolls. Madre always told me that was fine, I could do whatever I wanted as soon as I finished college. That was never negotiable with her, so I didn’t protest too much. I wouldn’t trade my college days for anything, and I know my education has helped me along in this business.
At the beginning of my junior year of college, I transferred to a University in a state that allowed anyone to become a shampoo assistant, as long as that anyone tested negative for tuberculosis, had a passport photo taken, and mailed that along with $30 to the state. I was so fortunate to be able to work in a salon for my last two (and a half) years of college, and I have to say it was definitely the most fun job I had ever worked up to that point. Where I live now, anyone can be an assistant as long as that anyone completes 1500 hours of cosmetology, which is the same amount of hours required to actually take the state boards and work behind the chair. As you can imagine, there aren’t many assistants in the small-town Deep South.
I loved assisting in the salon so much. I learned how to shampoo (which is harder than you think when you’re unfamiliar with it), rinse and neutralize perms, run colors through the ends, and how to give a great scalp and neck massage. I also helped keep the stylists’ day moving by printing off their schedules, mixing their colors, getting what they needed from the dispensary, and greeting (and obviously shampooing) the clients. I met so many wonderful people there, and made lasting friendships. The salon where I worked was within walking distance of the campus, and many of my professors were clients. I might have made a better grade than I deserved in my finance class, because my prof was a huge fan of getting a shampoo. I might have scrubbed a little longer, massaged a little more intently….you know.
The best part about working in a salon was that I learned one of the most important lessons in the industry…it’s feast or famine. Some weeks are hopping, some are like whizzin’ in the wind. But one thing’s for certain: if you are not in the salon, you are not going to make money. When first starting out in this business, the time passes slowly, the clients are few and far between, and it’s really tempting to say ‘to heck with it’ and cut out early – but that is not the way to build a business. Being present is key to drawing new clients.
My first week behind the chair, I made $98. I was pretty disgusted, but it didn’t take long to build up to a more do-able payday. After two years in my first salon, the owner closed it and we moved together to my current location across town. I’ve been there for fourteen years now, and I can honestly tell you that referrals from co-worker’s clients went a long way in building my business. These clients saw me there every day, at my station, ready to work. They watched me work, and saw my satisfied customers leaving the salon. They were aware of the three-week waiting period for their own stylist, so many would recommend me to friends and family, and I heard things like, “Well, Betty Sue told me Shuh-wanda is really good, but she’s so busy, and Betty Sue has seen your work and she just loves you to death, so she told me to try you! Now who’s your Mama and Daddy? Where do you live?..” Sorry, I got carried away, but you get the point. I was there, I was friendly, and I certainly wasn’t above shampooing for other stylists to help them out. After all, that’s what I was used to!
Getting back to basics, year after year!
Eighteen years later, I am in the process of reminding myself of all of these important lessons. Life definitely throws curves, and I have had my share for the past few years. Various health problems (that have now been resolved), and the loss of some very important people in my life, have worn on me to the point that my business has suffered somewhat. Some of those losses have been clients; long-time clients who have left a void in my heart, and in my chair. The business is hard in the fact that close relationships are formed, and when someone you have seen every week or even every day for the past ten or fifteen years passes away, it can be very devastating.
But, I will persevere. I have decided that 2014 is going to be my rebuilding year, and I want to kick it of with some rewards programs. I have some of the most amazing clients in the universe, and I want my main priority to be letting each and every one of them know what they mean to me. So many times, businesses will offer incentives with the catch that only new clients need apply…I have never understood that. Yes, I am taking new clients, and I have some plans in store for that, as well, but why would I reward only new clients and leave my time-tested, faithful friends to wonder where the heck they went wrong? I want to let each and every person who chooses me as their stylist know that I appreciate it, and that their part in putting food on my family’s table is not something I take for granted
I don’t have any specific details to share about the rewards I have in mind. I’ll be sharing some specials on social media sites, including my Facebook page, A Hair In My Biscuit, and the salon page, A Head Of Times. I am going to go with the flow, running specials as I see fit and maybe even having a few contests. I appreciate you more than you know if you made it to this point in my little soliloquy, because learning the history of Martie’s career may not have been how you wanted to spend the past 15-20 minutes. I appreciate my readers, just as I do my clients, and I hope to keep you all for a long, long time. Stay tuned, and please join me for The Best Year Ever…it’s going to be a blast!