October 2012

Jerry Tyler

Blue Highways | by Jerry Tyler


Finding Your Niche in the Beauty Industry

The burning question of most creative artists is, "How can I make a living doing what I love"? – Steve Supple

As we roam the blue highways of our amazing industry I often encounter seasoned and newly licensed professionals that want to go from the ordinary to become extraordinary.

The experienced professional often feels they have taken their path as far as they can go. The future professional wants to know how to grow to reach their goals.

Nevertheless we all started with a common bond — our love of the beauty industry — and began our first step to achieve our goals. The common ground for everyone in our industry is that we all went to school, passed our state exam, and received our license to practice our new found craft.

Now if we looked at the people and businesses that really are extraordinary we would find they all share another characteristic. They all found the answer to that question, how they could make a living doing what they loved; they discovered their niche, something that made them unique and special.

A niche can be a situation or activity specially suited to a person's interests, ability or it can be a special area demand for a product or service.

To truly find our niche we need to find those unique things that make us special, so we can be perceived as unique and forward thinking. This is what will set us apart. This is taking the next step in becoming a specialist or expert in a particular service or part of our industry.

To do this it may take investment in additional training to gain specific knowledge. You can start now developing a new network of resources to support your unique area of expertise or product offering. You might discover you will be filling a long needed void or overlooked demographic and meeting their specific challenges.

In doing so, we will "differentiate" ourselves from the mainstream. When we promote our specialty this is called "niche marketing." This is where we market the unique features and benefits of our specialized brand.

The real challenge is to stay ahead of the curve to remain a niche market. Because once your specialty train leaves the station, if you are perceived as the next trend, everyone will want to get on that train.

Differentiation is the key in creating a specialty brand or product. It is what sets you apart and the visible positive difference is what defines you as a niche brand.

All the recognized business brands in our industry started as niche brands. Vidal Sassoon, Redken, Paul Mitchell, Dermalogica, Aveda, Bumble and Bumble all initially brought something fresh and different to the industry that we were all eagerly waiting for and we may have not even known it at the time.

They are trend setters not trend followers. Their challenge was and is how to continue to grow their unique brand while not over saturating the market and diluting the high standard of their business models or products. This requires constant innovation to maintain their specialized foothold in the professional marketplace.

Our question to answer is will we be prepared to go the distance in becoming and maintaining our niche position in the industry once we have arrived. Will we go the distance?

By discovering our uniqueness and expanding our horizons, we all have something new and different to offer our guests and therefore advance our industry forward. All it takes is the action to find the difference we want to make as either individual or collective brands and create our niche in the marketplace to become that new reality.

Jerry Tyler's column Blue Highways is his "Road Less Traveled" perspective on the solutions and challenges facing the beauty industry. With over 35 years in the salon industry as an industry leader, educator and artist. He is currently "Director of Industry Relations for Carlton Hair , former Board president of the California Board of barbering and Cosmetology and hosts his weekly radio show talking texture, hair and beauty on TEXTURERADIO. www.textureradio.com Tuesdays and Thursdays 9pm PST