Guest Blog: Andrew Carruthers on Collaboration with Other Stylists



Often, the message we hear pertaining to success in business is to capture the market away from the competitors. This builds an “us against them” type of message that we feel has been destructive to our industry. If you follow any of our content, you’ve probably heard us talking about “Artists Supporting Artists” and “Brands Supporting Brands.” Well, let’s take that even one step further. Instead of just being supportive, it’s time to collaborate.

At the moment, I’m sitting on a flight headed home from two days that could seem like an odd choice for the Sam Villa brand from an outside set of eyes. Sam and I just finished up creating video content with Matt Beck, the owner and educator behind Free Salon Education (or FSE). To many, FSE is probably seen as our most direct competition in the market of digital education. Sure, we are both wanting to attract a similar audience… in fact, we found out that Matt feels that he speaks to the exact same audience that we do. It’s the true working-class hairdresser! The stylist that loves their job, provides for their family, and wants to continue to grow and have fun at the salon. Neither of us believes that the attention of this audience is limited, nor do we believe that it would be necessary to pull the attention from one brand to the other. It’s just the opposite. We KNOW that by working together, we have the ability to fulfill our mission of educating and supporting our industry on a grander scale than if we were working alone. And we are also aware that no single brand or educator will connect with every student, so if someone stumbles across our YouTube channel and just doesn’t click with us, the best thing we could do for that person is to refer them to another option that might fit their needs better.

Plus, all of us walked away from our time together with discoveries that we would not have had if we’d stayed bottled up within our own walls.

I’d imagine some of you are thinking… “This may work in the education world because people will go to more than one resource to learn. But what about in my small town where the salon down the street is trying to grab the attention of my clientele? Salon guests don’t typically go to more than one salon.”  Well, we would again suggest that maybe it’s time to collaborate and build a relationship with that salon. Fighting over clients just starts a negative cycle that will be destructive to both salons. Imagine this, you invite that salon to join your location for a class… by yourself, maybe you don’t have enough stylists to justify the cost to fly in an educator, but if both salons split the cost and come together for the day, now it’s affordable. During that day, not only do both of your salons gain valuable knowledge, but you get to know each other. You discover that each stylist has their own unique strengths. You discover that the other salon has a very different vibe and focuses on a certain style of clientele. Just like the education world, there is no one salon or one stylist that is right for every client. I know this sounds a little nutty, but can you imagine the rapport you could create if you admitted to someone that there was a better fit for them at the salon down the street? That client is going to spread the word about your honesty and kindness. And guess what, when that salon finds out you were willing to refer a guest to them, they are going to return that favor when someone walks through the door that is a better fit with you.

This is a departure from the old school thought of eliminating the competition and needing to be the only game in town. That perspective was born from a fear of scarcity. We must shift our belief to one of abundance. There are plenty of heads of hair to go around, there is plenty of attention to go around, and there is plenty of wealth to go around if we are willing to move towards a community of support and collaboration. Be the disruptor in your town! Go out and start the movement.

Love Life!


(Andrew Carruthers, Education Director for Sam Villa)

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