When we as stylists aren’t thriving in our lives and our careers, it can sometimes be easy to assume that the problem is our current salon. Whether you aren’t having success in building your clientele, you’re having a hard time maintaining a steady income, you’re feeling burnt out, or you just aren’t feeling fulfilled, it’s tempting to think that the problem can be solved by moving on to a different place.
And yes, sometimes in order to thrive you’ll need to leave your current salon in order to find a workplace that offers greater fulfillment and growth opportunities.
But before you move too fast and make a change, it’s important to first understand exactly what is causing you to feel the way that you do. Unless your current salon is a truly toxic work environment, there may be steps that you can take to set yourself up for success without needing to leave.
Below are three steps you should follow before you decide to leave your salon.
Steps to Take If You Aren’t Thriving in Your Salon
1. Get to the root of your dissatisfaction.
Before you decide to make any change, it’s first important to understand exactly what it is that you’re feeling and why you are feeling that way. If you don’t understand the root of the problem, then there’s no way to know that you won’t be hopping right into another similar situation. You also might find that by understanding the situation, you can take corrective actions that won’t require you to leave.
Make sure you aren’t acting out of pure emotion and frustration. It’s easy to get angry and make changes in your life that end up putting you in a worse position. I see this often with people who have not addressed what the actual emotional reaction is from.
For example, is the issue that you just don’t get along with someone else in your salon? Leaving the salon would certainly be a way to remove yourself from the situation, but we shouldn’t allow people to have this much control over our lives. Decisions need to be made because you believe it's better for your growth and what you personally desire for your life, not just because you think it’s the easiest way out.
Exhaust all options. Change is hard, but if you haven’t tried changing anything and you're ready to leave, I would first ask yourself why you feel the need to close this door. It’s okay if that is the answer that gives you most peace and you want to pursue other things, but remember there will be struggle in all work environments. Don’t move on because you think something may be easier.
2. Look for ways to reignite your passion.
Sometimes, the issue isn’t so much that anything is wrong; it’s just that you’ve lost some of that passion that made you love the hair industry to begin with. When this happens, the temptation to leave and start over somewhere new can be strong because it will bring at least a sense of novelty with it. But the truth is that there are many other ways of reigniting your passion that don’t necessarily need to be so disruptive to your life.
One great way of reigniting your passion is to build up a strong community of like-minded individuals who you know will support you in the good times and bad. Reaching out to a stylist that you look up to can be a great means of doing this, as can joining an online community (like the SALT Society Facebook Community!).
Pursuing education and building up your skills and expertise can also be a great way of reawakening your passion. Not only will you get better at your craft; you’ll also potentially learn skills that add variety to your day. Online education can be a great place to begin if you’re uncomfortable with in-person classes.
Whatever you decide, I would recommend that you write out a list of your goals, as well as the steps that you can take to reach each of them. Start with the smaller steps and begin working toward the bigger ones; while the big picture might seem overwhelming, it’s the small actions that collectively bring us where we want to go!
I also recommend being careful about the clientele that you accept intp your chair. By finding clients that mesh with you personally, you’re likely to find yourself much happier and much more content.
3. Make the decision that’s best for YOU.
Maybe you really are done with the industry. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Being able to walk away takes a lot of strength. Admitting this isn’t where your heart is anymore is an emotional journey.
But if you aren’t ready to say goodbye to the industry, leaving your current salon to test out the waters somewhere else may also be the right move for you. Leaving is hard. It’s awkward for everyone and can create a lot of bad blood, but it doesn’t have to. Some environments you may need to leave quickly and attempt to call your clients on your own. It’s always good to try and respect both your clients and the salon you’re leaving.
It’s important to remember we don’t “own” our clientele. People are free to go where they please and I can guarantee they will. If you have put in the effort to build trust with your clients and they respect you, they will follow you. It is not necessary to fill their heads with negativity about what’s happened. Keeping things exciting for your clients and giving them assurance they will be well taken care of is key.
In my opinion, if you’ve made the decision to leave your salon, you should reach out to each of your clients (especially those that you’ve got a strong relationship with) and notify them about the change one-on-one. Walk them through the options of finding a new stylist at the current salon, if that’s what they’d like to do, or of where you are heading in case they would like to follow you there. This is especially important for anyone who may already have an appointment with you in the coming weeks or months.
Only after you’ve taken care of this one-on-one outreach should you post about the move on social media. There is nothing worse as a client than to not feel included.
Be prepared to lose some clients, but focus on the fact you will build a stronger one that is more connected to you also. Do not take it personally. People have many different reasons for not following a stylist. It is not always about you directly.