Ellen Devine (@ellendevinehair), Sam Villa ArTeam and Master Stylist at Lunatic Fringe, shares her tips for how to take the fear out of relocating to a new salon.
Have you ever thought about moving across the country and starting over? This can be a daunting thought for a hairstylist. We basically start from zero every time we move states…or maybe even salons. I have moved from Illinois to California and then to Utah. I’ve started fresh a couple times now ,and it’s not as intimidating as you may think. It doesn’t have to be frightening. In fact, there are a few things you can consider to make the transition a bit smoother.
Take Care of Your Current Guests
Let’s think about the loyal guests you currently serve first. If possible, give them as much notice as possible and set them up for success. Each time I’ve moved, I’ve found a stylist that can take on new clients. I simply type out a general text and give my clients 3 options for a new stylist. I attached the new stylist’s number and Instagram so they can check out their work. If there is a specific stylist I think would fit their vibe, I recommend that person directly. This is not necessary, of course, but it’s a nice thing to do. I often still visit California and do “pop up” hair dates for many of my clients there. They come see me in between visits with their new stylist. I love that I’ve kept a relationship with them and am still honoring their loyalty.
Do Your Research
Before moving to Utah, I visited to make sure I liked it, but I also checked out a bunch of salons before outreaching to them. The first place I went was social media. Look on Instagram to check out salons in your new area, so you can get a feel for their vibe and the type of work they do. If you’re a blonding specialist, you may want to find a salon that focuses on just that. This is the beautiful thing about starting fresh — You can truly reinvent yourself or change your focus. I also like to check out Yelp to see client reviews and experiences. It gives so much insight into the guest experience. If there are negative reviews, it shows how the salon has handled them, which can say a lot about a staff. I found doing this weeded out non-contenders and helped me focus on a handful of businesses that I thought would be a good fit for me.
Have a Resume and Digital Portfolio
I like to keep it old school and print a hard copy of a resume to physically take into the salon. If you need help writing a resume, there are tons of websites that have templates to help create a clean professional document. Write down all of your professional experiences, including any photo shoots, awards, product sales %, your guest retention rate, etc. You want to sell yourself on what you excel in! Back in the day, I would have printed a portfolio too, but now just make sure you update Instagram with all your hair work. Instead of reaching out directly through email as my first contact, I prefer to physically go into the salons, introduce myself and ask for a tour. This really lets you see firsthand what the salon has to offer and how they run the ship. Sometimes I’ve gotten lucky, the owner has been there and I was able to have an interview on the spot, so be ready!
Interview the Salon
When entering these salons, dress to be authentically you and appropriate for the salon you’re visiting. During your interview, don’t forget you’re interviewing them as well. Make sure to ask any questions that are important to you. How much of a commission % will you make? Is there room for growth? Does the salon provide advanced education? Is there a set schedule? What is the salon policy on taking time off? It’s important to have a clear understanding of the salon and how it operates. It’s also a great time to figure out if there are any conflicts of interest.
Strategically Build Your New Clientele
I got extremely lucky and moved into a salon as a master stylist right as another was moving on. This set me up to have appointments on my books immediately. Once my start date was set, the salon opened my online booking, and I was able to be fully booked right away. I’ve also had to join a salon and start 100% from scratch too. I found the best ways to build my book was to ask the clients I was getting to send me friends and family. In return, I would hook them up with complimentary treatments or, if they sent me lots of guests, eventually a free haircut. Now, posting on social media is an immediate in. You can start by just tagging your new location on posts and try to build up while in the moving process.
All of this can be overwhelming, if you allow it to be, but now that I’ve experienced relocating salons and areas multiple times, I find it can be extremely empowering. I know that, because I’ve done it before and was successful, I can do it again and all will be well. Keep a bit a savings for your fresh start, make a plan and you will thrive in a new area. This is an opportunity to reinvent yourself as an artist and focus on what you want your business to look like. Jump in and enjoy the journey!