March 2011

Retail Matters

Retail Matters | by Steve Sleeper

Making a Big Splash in Beauty

So, you have finished school and have set out to make your mark on the world.

Landing that first job behind the chair is really only the first step in getting your feet wet. The beauty industry offers a vast sea of opportunities for salon professionals to make a big splash with salon owners, professional peers and potential clients.

A common mistake many young professionals make is assuming they know all there is to know about the beauty business right out of school. Talk to any of the big names in the industry and they will all tell you the same thing: Like life, you will only get out of your career what you put into it.

By nature, the beauty profession is all about open lines of communication. Without the ability to communicate effectively with clients, you would not be able to give them the look they are so eagerly looking for when they sit down in your chair. The same goes when you are progressing through the various stages of your career.

Members of the Professional Beauty Association often state that one of the biggest benefits of belonging to the association is the strong network of industry peers they have created through their membership. We believe strongly in creating opportunities for professionals to come together with industry peers to network, learn and share ideas.

Attending industry events is a great way to create strong networks of like-minded colleagues who can help when you have questions, as well as give you advice as you progress through the various stages in your career. There will be many career milestones for you to navigate through, and these colleagues can lend an ear or offer advice along the way.

To spark up a conversation more locally, look in your community for networking groups or start your own group with other stylists in your salon. Networking and sharing ideas aloud will hone your active communication skills.

It is true that your technical savvy and profound understanding of helping your clients discover their inner style is essential to being a successful stylist. However, many young professionals just starting out do not have a true understanding of the real profit center driving the success of the salon. It may be surprising to learn that retail actually makes up an astonishing one third of the professional salon industry, bringing in nearly $2.5 billion annually.

Retail plays an important role in your salon's success and understanding that role is critical. In order to be a successful stylist and progress to new heights in the industry, you must be able to use, recommend, and sell professional products to clients.

Here are just a few tips to help you set your retailing skills apart:

Be confident. Clients are looking to you, the expert, for advice on the right products for them. This process must be included with every service, every time. Without it, their salon experience just is not complete.

Be a Lifelong Student. The most successful people in any industry know that to be truly successful, you must be a lifelong student. In an industry where trends and innovations are constantly changing and evolving, this is especially true for beauty professionals. Seeking out and attending continuing education not only fulfills a necessity to progress as a licensed stylist, it offers salon pros both the inspiration of those that have lived the beauty dream and the insights of the most successful minds in the industry to help you reach your career goals.

Look to industry events for hands-on education on the newest techniques and trends. Beauty organizations offer a distinguished line-up of industry events dedicated to offering salon professionals at all career levels focused, relevant education to help them and the entire industry strive in today's marketplace and prepare for tomorrow's innovations.

Besides the many beauty events happening year-round, web-based education has become a favorite among professionals from all beauty segments. Many industry organizations offer online education, including major manufacturers and associations, like PBA's new BeautyU learning platform. This growing trend often offers professionals 24/7 access to education, such as marketing and business classes, and some of the biggest beauty icons from across the globe often lead sessions.

Most importantly, never lose your footing as you set your sights on your beauty adventure. Stay committed to your career goals. Set new goals. Award yourself often for achieving those goals. Then set your sails, hang on and enjoy the ride.

Steve Sleeper is the Executive Director of the Professional Beauty Association | National Cosmetology Association (PBA | NCA), a non-profit membership organization made up of beauty professionals, salons and spas, distributors, and manufacturers dedicated to improving their careers, individual businesses and the industry as a whole. For information, visit or call 1-800-468-2274.