Profile by Sara Ren Altizer
Elayne James Salon and Hair Color Studio
Years in the Industry: 3
Favorite SSBC Products: Over the Top! by Michael Cole
Leah’s journey into the professional beauty industry began in April 2014 at Paul M. Hodgson cosmetology school in Middletown, Delaware. Her older sister was a hairdresser, and Leah grew up hearing her sister talk about how much she loved her work. “This inspired me to become involved in the industry,” Leah explains. “My passion is to help people feel confident in their own skin through expressing my artistic ability. When I got accepted to the cosmetology program, I realized that this is not just a job. I had found my career.”
“Starting out as a cosmetologist was rough,” Leah recalls. “In school, I felt like I was not catching on as quickly as everyone else and this feeling continued when I graduated and started behind the chair at Elayne James Salon. Building a clientele was more challenging because I did not have close friends and family near the salon. The reality is, you cannot just sit in the break room and expect clients to get handed to you on a silver platter. You have to push for everything you want. You learn how to rely on yourself.”
With few contacts in the community near the salon, Leah turned to social media. Posting on Facebook and Instagram significantly helped her grow a clientele. “Social media is my biggest chunk in building referrals. I would not have half the clients I have now if it were not for my professional Instagram, @hairby_leahk. I post tons of before and after pictures, as well as promotions and any openings I have. Hashtags help to increase my visibility and make it more likely my pictures will be viewed on the explore page.”
A Little Help from SSBC
Behind the chair, Leah relies on guidance from Summit Salon Business Center to help her set goals and grow clientele. “The specific goals laid out in the Summit Salon Systems motivate me to work harder to move up and earn more money,” Leah explains. “The Summit Salon Planner keeps me focused each day on only competing with myself and bettering my best. If I have spots open, I do whatever I can to fill them with add-on services.”
To stay inspired, Leah watches educational videos online by other hair artists, like Sam Villa. She also attends the monthly staff meetings, classes to learn new techniques, and daily huddles to stay engaged in team-oriented and sales-driven salon culture. Jessica Luppold Galoff, owner of Elayne James Salon, also serves as an inspiration for Leah. “Jessica is one of my biggest role models!” Leah says. “When I first started as a stylist, I was very shy and awkward. She taught me how to open up with clients and be myself. She makes me feel confident and inspires me to continue growing and to pass it on!”
In the three years that Leah has worked at Elayne James Salon, she has earned four promotions and has quadrupled her income.
How does she do that?
Average Retail/Client $13
“It is really important to educate clients on products.” Leah explains. “Tell them about the awesome ingredients and compare it to the drug store stuff they are using at home. Ask them what they like/dislike about their hair; it makes it easier to know what you should be showing them and educating them about. I always show at least three products to each guest to ensure they walk out with at least one. It is also important to fill out the RX pads to communicate to the front desk what you used so they are able to remind the guest about the products.”
Average Ticket $102
“My favorite additional services would have to be Redken’s PH bonder and the Shades EQ clear gloss. The PH bonder is a great offering because many of my guests frequently change their hair color and choose to go lighter. The PH bonder keeps their hair healthy and ready for their next change. The clear gloss adds shine and and refreshes tone in the ends of the clients who are only scheduled for a base color. It is also a great way to introduce my haircut guests to hair color services.”
Top 5 Tips for New Stylists
- Push yourself! If you want to become bigger and better in the industry, then do not stop! It is easy and tempting to become lazy, but do not let that happen!
- Always think positive! A negative mindset never allows for growth. If you screw up, which you will, just know it is a learning experience.
- Stick with it! You may have mixed feelings about staying in the industry because you might not be catching on as fast as others or getting clients easily (like me), but the beginning is the hardest part.
- Put yourself out there! Always have your cards with you when you go out. Post content on social media and do not be shy about showing off your work. If you do not believe in what you do, how will anyone else?
- Treat your guests like royalty! Going above and beyond in customer service is what keeps them coming back to you.