AHP Indie Stylist

Volume 1, Issue 2

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N ot a m e m b e r ? J o i n at a s so c iate d h a i rp rofe s sio n a ls .c o m 17 Opening a salon has never been easier. However, operating a legal and profitable salon has become more challenging. Not to minimize the accomplishment of completing beauty school, but graduating from school does not compare to—or prepare you for— signing a lease, purchasing equipment and products, and spending limited resources and countless hours on your craft. Your investment marks the point when the real work begins, which is why I encourage new licensees to seek salon employment as their first position after beauty school, especially if they aspire to salon ownership. Despite my best efforts, I have not enjoyed much success promoting the benefits of employment. Granted, there are a limited number of salons that employ, but that's not the primary reason that many reject the option. Instead, too many in the salon industry lack patience and overestimate their abilities and worth. While naive optimism might sustain them initially, optimism can also mislead. How else would you explain those who persist in our industry while struggling financially and professionally? After my experiences as a booth renter, I transitioned to working alone in my own salon while eight months pregnant. Eight years later, I moved again and expanded to employ others. But as the main service provider, challenges remain—even with employees. As an independent, you must consider: How does your business function without your physical presence? What happens when you get sick, have an emergency, get called for jury duty, or take a vacation? Even as we seek career stability, more beauty pros are choosing the uncertainty of working alone. What does this growing trend mean for our industry when we already segment ourselves according to license type, specialties, brand preferences, and geography? If the last time we surrounded ourselves with colleagues on a daily basis happened in beauty school, I worry for the future of our industry. In the absence of real-life opportunities to come together, like beauty trade shows and educational events, we increasingly rely on social media and virtual interactions for professional support. Despite the convenience and affordability, technology cannot replace the quality and depth of more direct interactions with other beauty professionals. While avoiding conflict and having control may be reason enough to work alone, some would acknowledge that they feel lonely, uninspired, and burdened. In that very real sense, independence may limit professional growth and decrease job satisfaction. We cannot allow the increasing number of independents to damage our collective identity, or place individuals at further disadvantage. Isolation does not serve anyone well when we need quality information, access to resources, and more representation. Collaborating with others, even while maintaining your independence, could be the change you need to engage in the industry more fully. If you're waiting to discover the perfect salon, business partner, boss, employee or coworker, why not create that experience for yourself and others? There is no amount of time, training, or money that qualifies someone as a "good" salon owner; there is only progress toward creating the best possible work environment where professionals thrive, clients receive excellent service, and owners meet all their financial and legal obligations. Collaborating with others, even while maintaining your independence, could be the change you need to engage in the industry more fully.

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