As a third generation cosmetologist, Artyce Dozier grew up surrounded by beauty. In fact, she’s known she wanted to be a hair stylist since she was just 8 years old. Dozier even worked to get her cosmetology license as she attended high school. She’s recently opened Hair Meets Art in Alexandria, Virginia.
Dozier says her family history helped her achieve her goal of being a business owner. “My grandmother was a cosmetologist. My mom was a cosmetologist. I watched women come in the salon a little down or stressed and a hairstyle could make them feel like they could conquer the world. Once I saw that happen and learned that you can play with someone’s hair and change their mood, I became very interested in the industry,” said Dozier.
Double duty: Stylist and owner
Being an owner as well as a service provider is something Dozier always dreamed of. But she says when buying a beauty salon, a good owner doesn’t have to be a stylist themselves. “If you love people, if you love to learn, have great customer service and stay up to date on trends, you can do it,” says Dozier.
She got her experience managing a large salon franchise in the area for four years before branching out on her own and opening Hair Meets Art in 2014. This experience helped her understand how to manage clients, stylists, schedules, budgets and how to make a salon run smoothly. She says being her own boss is harder work, but worth it. “Even when I’m having fun and spending time with my family and friends, I’m thinking about my business. I’m always asking myself: Is it running right? Are there things I can change? How can I grow my business?” said Dozier.
Financing a dream
Opening her own salon was truly a labor of love for Dozier. She’s been saving every penny she could since she started cutting hair nine years ago. Her savings, in addition to a small business loan, financed the venture. She had about 30% of her budget saved up, but recommends having even more, if possible. “If I had it to do over again, I would have saved up at least 40% of my start-up costs. I also would have tried to get a couple of investors so that there are more people to help take the load off instead of relying on just myself,” said Dozier.
Location is everything
Hair Meets Art rents space in a building in Northern Virginia that was once a salon, so Dozier did not have a lot of build out expenses. Of course, there were things she had to do to make the space her own, including some tweaks to the layout to make it more spacious. She says one important thing to consider is to have a break room for employees so that they have some private space from clients.
But she cautions business owners on trying to do it all right at the start. “I wanted everything to be in place from the beginning. I had a vision, but I realized the perfect space isn’t actually a short term goal. It’s a long term goal. Hopefully, you are going to be in business for the rest of your life. So, you have time to tweak it. Just make sure it’s comfortable for your clients and stylists. You can always add paintings and flower arrangements later,” said Dozier.
She also recommends that future salon owners consider parking as a major consideration when choosing a location. “I wanted accessibility. I wanted my clients to be able to park anytime and anywhere and not have to worry about paying for parking,” said Dozier.
As a manager of four stylists in her salon, Dozier says having good people skills goes a long way because an owner will be managing her staff as well as her clients. Dozier also lists accountability, goal setting (she writes hers down daily) and the opportunity to learn in both business and the beauty industry as major skills someone looking to get into this industry should have.
It’s an important part of a salon owner’s job to maintain quality stylists. Dozier does this through social networking and word of mouth. Because she works side-by-side with her stylists, she says that can be a fine line. “I try to always maintain balance between a friend and a business owner,” said Dozier. She admits this is one of the hardest parts of transitioning to owning her business. “I want to have fun with everybody, but I also have to be accountable for the business. I have to make sure everyone looks and acts the part of beauty professionals,” said Dozier.
Dozier looks for go-getters when hiring stylists. She wants someone to be able to give a client an experience that they wouldn’t be able to get at the salon across the street. “I look for people who are great listeners and don’t always give their opinion. I want someone who is constantly learning new techniques or posts pictures of their work even though it may be their day off,” said Dozier.
Stylists at Hair Meets Art pay a weekly booth rental of $270 per week and average about 12 clients on a busy day. They also work together as a team to grow the business on slower days usually at the beginning of the week by passing out flyers and spreading the word about specials through social media. Dozier is also experimenting with Groupon to bring in new customers.
One-stop beauty shop
Dozier emphasizes personal relationships with clients as a way to book repeat business. It also helps to be able to recommend quality products sold at her salon. Retail sales are a great boost to a businesses’ income. In fact, Dozier’s retail sales can account for 15-25% of each day’s sales. “Clients love that they don’t have to go to the store. They can get quality products to keep their hair looking great right here,” said Dozier.
Hair Meets Art also offers waxing, makeup applications, eyelash and hair extension services. Dozier says it’s important for a business owner to be able to offer any service related to beauty, even if they aren’t providing the service themselves. “You have the client in your salon. You already have their attention, so you should be able to offer them any beauty service that they want,” said Dozier. “If you don’t know how to do it yourself, make sure that at least one staff member knows.”
Dozier has big long term goals for her business, including locations in bigger cities like New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta. She loves transforming her clients, and she hopes to do the same for her business one day. “Any business will have ups and downs and headaches, so make sure you love it before you get into it. If you love your job, you’re working when you’re not supposed to be working. When you are working, you are thinking about more work. So, make sure this is an industry you truly love.”
If you're looking to jump steps ahead and buy a salon that already has a customer base, jump ahead and buy a salon.