Family Legacy and a Commitment to Success
Profile by Sara Altizer
The Huffstutter family legacy spans more than eight decades and four generations. It has included stylists, salon owners, distributors, and most recently, cosmetology school owners. Read on to discover how the legacy began and how partnering with Summit Salon Business Center is ensuring the legacy lives on for many generations to come.
Viola was the first person in the Huffstutter family to prove that being a stylist is a recession-proof business. She opened a salon during the Great Depression and was able to earn a salary that was equal to that of a doctor. She discovered that when times get tough, people will hold off on large expenses, but they will pay to have their hair cut and styled. Looking their best makes them feel better about their current circumstances, and that is worth every penny.
“Viola is a legend in our family,” her great-grandson, Luke Huffstutter explains. “She was a working woman, a believer that ambition paid off and she proved that herself! That lady had strength and gumption to step up and lead for her family. She taught me that family is worth everything and to always help anyone who is willing to help themselves. She was also a believer in education; she left a college fund for my dad, which I know influenced how he and my grandparents set aside money for family to go to college.”
Viola also trained her son, Kermit, to be a hairdresser. At the time however, it was easier for a man to grow a career in the distributor side of the business, and that’s just what Kermit did. As he grew more and more successful, Kermit worked with Viola to convince his son, Vince, to join the family business. He did, and as a result, Vince met Shelley, a hairdresser. Vince and Shelley both shared a love of the professional beauty industry, and it wasn’t long before they fell in love with each other.
“Many, many times during the next twenty years of helping people to look better and feel more confident by embracing workshops, classes, and shows, I felt pride and love for this business,” Shelley explains. “It stood me in good stead during my various life experiences and paid my way through good and bad times. When asked to work with my husband, Vince, I hesitated, but then dove in. I saw that I could help my sister stylists receive more education and find more fulfillment and money in their work. I found myself feeling even more connected to them. I felt I knew them even when I hadn’t met them. Nothing beats a big measure of optimism.”
Vince and Shelley had seven children, all of whom would work in the salon industry. Three have made it into a career, including Luke, who would go on to own and operate Annastasia Salon; Chris who became a cosmetology school owner; and Keith who is the Assistant Vice President of Business Development with SalonCentric.
“I admire my family’s legacy, because it was always about the people,” Luke says. “They took care of their own and were loved and respected by their employees and industry peers. Because of our legacy of helping salons as a distributor family and having the inside scoop from my mom’s stylist years, we thought we had an amazing business plan to open our own salon company. To our surprise, we did not.”
“My dad, Vince, who had sold Jacob Miller Barber and Beauty Supply ten years earlier, asked me if I wanted to help the family get back into the business,” Luke explains. “My number one reason to do it was to create a relationship with him like he had had with my grandfather. That feeling of partnership and empowerment is hard to resist. I am consistently blown away that I can be in partnership with my family with no concern of something going wrong. There is space to disagree, compromise, and an unspoken rule that we will not make a big decision without everyone’s okay. These types of values made it easy to work with my parents.”
“I opened Annastasia with a strong business plan, but the plan was about the business, not the people,” Luke says. “That was a big piece of humble pie. We needed a business plan that matched our family values of bringing people along with us. My brother Keith (SalonCentric) heard I was struggling and called to tell me about The Summit. I signed up a few days later and ten months into ownership we were in Minneapolis. Once we had a business plan that was based on the motto ‘We Grow People For a Living’ everything started to take off. Now, like my father, mother, grandparents, and great-grandmother, I serve those in my company, just as I expect the team to serve our guests.”
The three initiatives from the Summit Salon Systems that had the greatest impact were the defined career path, monthly one-on-ones and the Summit Salon Associate Program®. “The defined career path empowered self-accountability and infinite potential,” Luke explains. “Every team member knows what they need to do to grow their career, income, and position in our company. If they want it, they can have it. One-on-ones created consistent and supportive communication with all of our team. The Associate Program has completely built our company. We are creating citizens who make a difference.”
In eleven years, Annastasia Salon grew from three commission stylists to twenty-six. “The professional beauty industry is unlike any other,” Luke says. “You can literally have it all in our industry. Fifteen years ago, my grandfather was inducted into the Oregon Cosmetology Hall of Fame. To honor all of the stylists who have helped our family achieve so much, he and my father started the Huffstutter Family Stylist Scholarship fund in Oregon. It is for applicants with the highest financial need. As my brother, his wife, my wife, and I take up the banner, we want everyone to know it is possible to come from nothing and build a successful career, have a family, and make a difference. What is more powerful than that?”
Summit Salon Academy
Summit Salon Business Center pairs the Summit Salon performance-based system with the best technical training at the cosmetology school level. By teaching service providers the best practices in growing and maintaining a clientele, money management, and financial planning, students will be poised to the get the most out of their career in the professional beauty industry. The Huffstutter’s passion for growing people extended into the school environment, and they knew that the Summit Salon Systems would not only provide the greatest future for their students, but it would also allow the family to build a very profitable business itself.
“By using the Summit Salon Systems, we have been able to make a bigger difference to our stylists at the salon level,” Luke says. “Therefore, we know there is opportunity to make a real difference at the school level. It is a symbiotic relationship with the salon company as well. If we want a 10 million dollar salon company, then the school is a huge part of that, because we know they will be trained in preparation for our top tier salon.”
“We have already seen a big difference since becoming a Summit Salon Academy,” school owner Chris Huffstutter explains. “Having our Summit Salon Academy Consultant, Nicole Mitchell, come out to look at the changes we are making and give us feedback and mentorship has made a huge impact on our floor sales. Our retail is up every month, and we have increased the student’s average ticket by more than $3 in three months. Additionally, we have increased the number of services done by almost 20 percent over last year. Now there is a lot to be said for the team getting behind our goals, but our consultant has earned their trust and they know that she has each and every one of our best interests at heart.”
Looking Towards the Future
As for whether or not future generations of Huffstutters will join the beauty industry, Luke has this to say: “If we can continue to teach our children and grandchildren to treat one another as partners and empower them to create our family’s future, I can only imagine what’s next. Our nephew just enrolled in beauty school last month. Our niece works at the salon’s front desk. Our other niece is finishing her senior year at University of Oregon. We will have the fifth generation sucked in soon enough. And then we will support them in dreaming big so that they can continue to serve others in ways we haven’t even considered yet.”
Are you interested in implementing proven salon business strategies into your company? Click to view upcoming Summit Salon Business Center Programs.