If you’ve ever had a hair stylist you liked in an overpriced or disorganized salon, there is a new studio concept that may be for you.
A Sola Salon consists of several smaller salon spaces in one large retail space. Each space is owned and run by a different stylist. Instead of waiting for your stylist in a large open space with clients waiting for other hairdressers, you see in your stylist in a separate space with an entrance.
The stylist pays rent for the business space, instead of for a chair in a salon owned by someone else.
Why It’s Different
At Sola, hair stylists don’t rent a space in a studio owned by someone else. They own the studio space they work in and set their own hours and prices. Their salon will have furniture, music, products, and an ambiance that reflects their personality.
The subdivided salons are like small offices in a co-working space. The hair stylists are one-person businesses, with an office. They don’t need to follow the rules or business hours set forth by a salon manager. They set their own rules.
Hair stylists receive many amenities with a Sola Salon franchise, including
Wi-Fi, electricity, gas, and water. The company offers several different layouts for its salon studios. Oversized mirrors, hydraulic chairs, customized cabinets, shampoo bowls and retail shelving are included in the studios.
Salon studios also have insulated walls to keep out noise from adjoining studios. This padding is a relief for any stylist or client who has had to overhear chatter from other customers in a large, open studio.
About the Company
One of the best franchises on Forbes’ 2015 list, Sola Salon Studios have 10% turnover as opposed to 100% for a traditional salon like Supercuts. Founders Stratton Smith and Matt Briger opened their first “co-working”, individually owned salons in 2003 in Denver.
As of 2018, the company has over 400 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, and over 10,000 independent stylists at those locations. Sola Salon actively recruits the top-grossing stylists in a given area.
Top stylists may have their opportunities limited by a salon owner’s rules or the salon location. Many high-earning stylists may not want to open a traditional salon. Owning a salon is usually the only way a good hairdresser can exercise more control over their income. A co-working arrangement allows hairdressers (or barbers) become entrepreneurs without spending money on buying or renting a full salon.
Some franchises may offer benefits for stylists, such as disability, medical insurance, and life insurance, even though they aren’t technically employees.
Most stylists can expect a 50% to 100% increase in take-home pay after opening a hair studio with this ground-breaking company. Stylists also receive a retail credit to stock the shelves with products appropriate for their clients.
Advantages for Stylist and Client
As a customer, you go to the salon to see your favorite stylist. (It’s rare that all the stylists employed by a salon will know how to do your hair the way you like.) When the stylish moves to another location, you go to the stylist’s new salon, unless it is too far for you to travel.
The advent of “mini-salons” in one location lets more stylists with large followings start their own business without opening a traditional salon. This business model gives stylists and clients lots of reasons to work in (or visit) the franchises.
Some stylists and estheticians bring in coffee machines, flat screen TVs, or other amenities to make clients more comfortable. Stylists and their customers can enjoy their time together, without contending with other stylists and their clients, background noise, and piped-in music or TV they can’t control.
Stylists and clients can have long, one-on-one conversation without being interrupted by other stylists or customers, or having them eavesdrop on the discussion.
Stylists and manicurists can sell retail products and receive much more than the customary 10% commission they’d get in a traditional salon.
For everything from eyebrow threading in Virginia to hairstyling in Lubbock, Texas, you’ll speak (or text) directly with the person performing the service, not a receptionist who may not be able to answer your questions.
More Freedom Makes Stylists Happier
Stylists at a Las Vegas location personalize their spaces and do some of their own decorating, molding the ceilings, and painting the space any other color they like. The salon suites let manicurists, masseuses, and waxing specialists rent spaces, so every location has a variety of beauty services available from different providers.
A Boston Globe article highlights the experiences of an immigrant from Nigeria, who once worked in a traditional studio, but now loves the creativity and freedom he gets from working in his own studio.
A stylist contacts clients directly if he or she needs to reschedule or cancel an appointment due to an emergency. This approach is much more personal than if an intermediary does it
All locations have an overall manager to receive rent and make sure the building and studios are maintained properly. Each stylist is responsible for decorating and maintaining their studios, advertising for and retaining clients, learning new styling techniques, setting appointments and managing websites and social media pages.
Stylists can contact their closest location about studio rates, and individuals interested in opening franchises can email the company or fill out their website contact form.
Tips for Stylists Going Solo
The company offers lots of tips for stylists and estheticians going solo. The blog on their website is constantly updated with information on the day-to-day operation of a salon, new styling and beauty techniques and marketing techniques.
Recent entries coached beauty entrepreneurs on how to do taxes, relieve stress, get more client reviews, and use the company’s app. They also offer ongoing educational seminars to keep stylists, manicurists, and others informed of the newest techniques to improve their business.
Even though each stylist is responsible for their social media and website,
the company features stylists on their website regularly. This publicity boosts the hairdresser’s or esthetician’s profile and helps them attract new clients.
New clients who want to visit one featured stylish, from North Carolina, have to wait two to three months she is so busy. A barber with 30 years’ experience in a traditional setting pays his rental with money from selling retail products.
A happy stylist means a happy client, and the spotlight pages show that the entrepreneurs at these “co-working” spaces are satisfied with their decisions to work for themselves.
Beauty industry websites and publications feature coverage of the company’s events and interviews with its executives and stylists.
American Salon published an article about the partnership with Eyes on Cancer, one of the salon suites’ many endeavors in the health and charity field. Stylists were trained to recognize signs of skin cancers on clients’ heads and scalps.
Modern Salon featured an interview with Randall Clark, the new CEO of the company. He talked about expanding education and community for the 10,000 plus members in the salon’s franchises and continuing the fun atmosphere for stylists and their clients.
Salon owners from Park Ridge, Illinois gave several reasons why stylists should own a hair studio in a Behind the Chair article.
What Clients Think
The reviews critique the stylists, not the salon or salon management, so you’ll find fewer poor reviews. Clients go to a stylist, not a salon, and this fact accounts for the mostly excellent reviews.
Every location has several top stylists recruited from the corresponding city or region, and poor or unmotivated stylists won’t last long, or won’t get recruited in the first place.
Yelp reviews of a franchise in Irvine, CA compliment several stylists and 72 reviews have an average five-star rating.
Estheticians and stylists have their own websites, phone numbers, and payment methods. All private salons have their own rules, and you contact the stylist or technician you want directly.
Most stylists offer online booking and cancellation, so you don’t need to waste time on the phone to make an appointment.
The quality of service, the cost, studio cleanliness, and décor varies, according to the stylist in the studio suite, and to a lesser extent, with the franchise owner who oversees each location.
Most beauticians who work in these salon suites are highly motivated, and wouldn’t commit themselves to such a business arrangement if they weren’t – that’s why you see so few poor or even average reviews for stylists in these “co-working” locations.
Clients no longer need to waste time at a salon they hate to get their hair, nails, or eyebrows done by their favorite beautician. The reviews on Yelp and social media concentrate on the stylist and their skills.
Customer reviews of traditional salons often have nothing to do with the beauty treatment, like rude or incompetent receptionists, long waiting times and similar factors. A salon suite run by an independent stylist eliminates these frustrating and time-consuming issues for the consumer.