In anticipation of our upcoming Master Classes, we are running a series of interviews with our guest educators so that you can learn more about them and walk away with tips that you can use to improve your salon business.
This week, we sit down with Olivia Smalley (@OMGArtistry), celebrity hair and makeup artist, who talks about her career and offers tips that stylists can use to get the most out of their client consultations (and more!).
1. What inspired you to pursue a career behind the chair? Did you have a different career before pursuing hair? If so, what finally helped you take the leap?
I have always been working in salons, ever since I was 13 years old. My mom works in the industry and she put me to work young to teach me the value of a dollar. I would fold towels and wash hair, but I always loved it.
I actually went to college with the intent to graduate with a major in business and a minor in film, but my family was struggling financially so I left school to help them. That’s when I made the decision to follow in my mom's footsteps and enroll in cosmetology school. Because of my background working in salons, it was a natural fit!
2. What advice do you wish you had when you were first starting out? / What’s one mistake that you see new stylists make all the time?
Don’t rush! I see so many young stylists run to work behind a chair as soon as they graduate from school. Take your time to study under other stylists and learn their techniques. Be a sponge and soak in all the information you can while you are still mold-able and before you have settled into bad habits.
3. If you could change one thing about your career’s trajectory, what would it be?
With my busy lifestyle, I’m unable to fully commit to opening up my own salon. Having my own space has always been a dream of mine, but the timing has just never been right for me. Maybe if I had done it a bit earlier on in my career it could have worked out, but I don’t know if I was mentally ready at that time.
4. What role does social media play in your business? Has the way that you use social media changed at all in the past few years?
Social media IS my business. It has changed everything for me, from how I book my clients to how I create brand relationships. Without social media, I would never have the opportunities that I’ve been given. I now see social media as a necessary business tool, not just a way to share photos.
5. Did you ever doubt or question whether or not you were cut out (no pun intended) for this business?
Never. This has always been my passion and I know this is the path I am meant to take.
6. Can you speak to just how important the consultation is to making sure that stylists are giving their guests the results that they’re looking for? Why is it so important?
You need to make sure you are on the same page as your client to ensure their happiness at the end of their appointment! We should never assume that we know everything, and make sure that we listen to what our client are saying to us. Otherwise, there may be a mismatch between expectations and what is ultimately delivered.
On the other hand, you also need to educate your clients on the fact that they shouldn’t assume that you know everything. The consultation is two-sided and needs to thoroughly executed!
7. What are the most important questions that you make sure to ask during your consultations?
The first thing I ask is to see a photo of what the client is hoping to achieve. It’s one of the best and easiest ways to make sure that we’re on the same page.
I also try to get a thorough hair history of at least the last five years! I want to know about all the chemical services (not just color) that the hair has gone through. This will help me anticipate the different tones that may be revealed during a lightening, along with other considerations.
I also ask about how the client is taking care of their hair at home, because I want to know if there is any type of product buildup on the hair which could alter my formula.
8. It happens to all of us. Sometimes a guest comes in with unrealistic expectations, and we have to explain why it won’t work. Do you have any advice or tips that others can use to navigate this tricky part of the job?
Just be honest! Tell them why it’s unattainable, but try to not get too technical because it can get a little confusing. They will appreciate your honesty in the end.
9. Many stylists offer both digital and in-person consultations. Do you think one is better than the other? Why do you think so?
In person is always best! When people message me online, I try to get a basic idea of what they want and the current state of their hair, but I always have them come in for a consultation. It’s just good to really see the hair in person, because in a world of filters, you can’t always get a perfect understanding of their hair from a photo alone.
Also, it’s good to have that one on one interaction with a new client right from the beginning, before any treatment actually begins!
Want more tips about Salon Culture? Check out our Salon Business Bundle!
- Why/how you should secure client information
- Cancellation policies
- How to create your own salon policies
- Salon culture success
- How salon culture effects your policies
- How to approach rebranding your salon