On June 10th 2014, I opened a salon suite in Las Vegas. My business partner and I signed the lease, renovated our space, and opened for business in less than a month. It felt like it happened over night, but in reality, salon ownership was a long time coming for me.
Taking it Back
Since childhood, I’ve loved doing hair! Some kids played sports, some did ballet, others were into art, I braided hair.
Fortunately, I got the opportunity to attend cosmetology school when I was 16. By the time I graduated high school, I was a licensed cosmetologist.
Despite my passion for hair, I never imagined I would turn hair styling into a career. I was so young when I entered the industry- I got my first job in a salon at 16 and was cutting hair behind the chair at 17. The idea of selling myself to a career in my teens did not sit well with me. Especially a career that involved working Saturdays! Plus, my mom had always drilled it into my head that I needed a real job. Which to her, meant one that offered benefits. I did’t know yet what I wanted out of life but I knew I wasn’t going to find it on the inside of a salon in my hometown.
College and Las Vegas
I looked at doing hair as a way to pay for college. At some point in my youth I picked up the idea that earning a degree was the only way to escape the cycle of paycheck to paycheck living I’d grown up in.
I was unable to get into a four year university because I had missing credits due to my high school allowing my cosmetology courses to satisfy basic credit requirements, like chemistry. This pissed me off at first but in reality, I would have had to have gone to community college anyway because of finances. After one year of living with my mom (who was still pushing me to get a full time job with benefits as opposed to doing hair and going to college) and helping with my sick grandparents, I had to get out of town.
I packed up my Chevy Cobalt and moved in with friends in Las Vegas. In less than a month I landed a job at a local salon and enrolled in community college.
By the time I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in elementary education from the University of Nevada- Las Vegas, I had been doing hair professionally for five years. With my focus on school, I had managed to build up a steady clientele without even realizing it. During my final semester of college, which for an education major is student teaching, doing hair was my reprieve from teaching. That’s when it became apparent that I belonged in the salon not the classroom.
Transitioning Career Paths
Becoming a Redken Certified Haircolorist gave me the confidence to move to a more prestigious salon. A few months into working at the new salon, a fellow stylist approached me about opening a studio salon with her. At first I thought she was nuts, I was only 23, had just started at a new salon that I loved, and was in the middle of planning a wedding! Intrigued about the future possibility, I met with her to discuss our options. Within a month we picked out a space, renovated it to perfection and opened for business!
The Salon Suite
The salon suite became my home away from home. Everyday I woke up excited to go to work. It didn’t feel like work. It felt like I was entertaining close friends in an adorable sitting room everyday. To say I loved it is an understatement! It was my baby. It provided me with more fulfillment, freedom and flexibility than I ever dreamed a job could.
I learned a lot from it too. That first year I was schooled in accounting when I owed a ton of unexpected money in taxes. Paying for my own health insurance sure took me back to those conversations with my mother about the importance of getting a job with benefits. But I would pay tax bills and health insurance premiums over and over again for the freedom that accompanied self-employment!
The salon was a dream come true…
Until I wasn’t…
My schedule at the salon was steadily booked which brought in an abundant income. I lived in a nice, new townhouse, drove a brand new car and had the latest tablet, phone and computer (that I somehow justified needing by saying they were for the salon.) I was going out on The Strip all the time which meant new clothes, new accessories, fancy dinners and expensive cocktails.
My travel opportunities and the time I had to spend with the people I loved decreased as my obligation to maintaining my material possessions and new lifestyle increased. Over time, I had become bound to the salon that had once made me feel so free.
Every step I took tied me tighter to the material lifestyle I was creating. I knew if I kept going, one day very soon, turning around or changing direction would no longer be an option.