Independent Hair Stylist Insights For The New Year

Independent Hair Stylist Insights For The New Year

According to Beauty Launchpad, in the United States, the number of independent hairstylists is well above half a million and is gradually increasing every year. Christina Russell, CEO of Radiance Holdings, knows a thing or two about the status of independent stylists. “There is no shortage of demand for hair services and every other kind of personal care service,” she tells American Salon. Her company owns the Woodhouse Spas with over 76 locations and the Sola Salons studios which will end the year with over 654 locations. She spoke to AS about trends and insights she sees with beauty professionals in the future.

Independent Hair Stylist Insights from Christina Russell

Independent Hair Stylist Insights For The New Year

“We’re continuing to see record-high occupancy – the independence trend is strong, and we don’t see that slowing down. More non-hair professionals are coming into Sola… They are coming in better educated about the pathway to independence, and they are masters of social media and promotion of their artistry. They are demanding more from their studio providers, and it’s our honor to deliver on their behalf.”

Are there regional differences you can cite?  

“People are craving experiential investment in themselves, and beauty is a great place to be regardless of market – there is no shortage of demand for hair services as well as every other kind of personal care service. That’s where we see the biggest regional differences – we’re still 85% hair at most of our locations, but some markets are moving closer to 50% hair, and 50% other beauty and personal care. The biggest surge in NON-hair services on the coasts – California, Seattle, Phoenix, and some of the areas in the northeast. We see everything from aesthetics, brows, lashes, waxing, spray tan, medical aesthetics, and even services like teeth whitening.”

How do you see the salon business as we move into 2023?  

“We see the ecosystem continuing to evolve, and we believe independence will always have an important place. Many stylists aspire to work at the more premier salons. Others will aspire to independence. And many aspire to careers beyond the chair – education, launching their own brands, becoming industry influencers.”

Are there any changes that were brought about by the pandemic that will remain in our future? 

“It reinforces the power of the studio model. The power is in the balance of freedom and community. Stylists could control their environments and decide their own comfort level, while also benefiting from guidance and support from our national team, as well as the thousands of other stylists sharing their experiences and ideas on social media. We had a strong community coming in, but it brought us even closer together. We opened some of our educational and support resources to the larger community of independents, and that turned out to be a great way to support then entire sector when so many of our smaller competitors didn’t have the resources. It was the right thing to do…”

How can franchise owners build their businesses during an economic downturn?  

“We just wrapped our annual Sola Summit…our franchisees reported that they are not deterred by the coming downturn. Despite the gloom and doom in the media, most economists are projecting a relatively short and shallow recession, and consumers are going into it with a lot more savings than they had at the start of the last recession, and with higher incomes than ever… There will, no doubt, be some challenges, but for the most part, our franchisees see the next couple of years to push forward where others may slow down.” 

What can they do to attract the customer who is affected by inflation and other financial woes? 

“We don’t anticipate a major downturn, but we know some of our stylists will feel this more than others, depending on their clientele. More economically sensitive clients may go longer between appointments, or they may turn to DIY color for in-between root touch-ups – that’s what we saw in the last recession. It will take a little courage for stylists who are used to having full books to get back out there and build new clients into their mix, but our stylists are a tenacious group of entrepreneurs…That’s the great thing about going in strong – you come out of these challenges even stronger.”

For the full article, visit American Salon.