Owning a Business - Advice from the ladies of Vivid! Salon
Two interesting facts about Kayla, co-owner of Vivid!
I am literally obsessed with Halloween.
I would like to pursue wedding planning and design in the next year or two as a side job.
Two Interesting Facts About Lydia, Co-Owner Of Vivid!
I used to be a model.
Surprisingly, I grew up on a farm and used to train horses.
Two Interesting Facts About Allie, Stylist at Vivid!
I'm an artist (painting, drawing, sculpting).
I have lived all over the country.
Kayla and Lydia, y’all are successfully owning and operating a local salon in Columbia, SC. Many people are inspired by what you all have done with Vivid! Color Cut Style and would like to hear more about how you got where you are now. Start off by telling us about your business. What makes it unique? Do you have a special motto? What parts of your personal style do you incorporate into your salon?
K: I feel like Vivid! is a true extension of Lydia and I. When we decided to open the salon, we sat down over a couple beers and talked forever about our ideas and what we wanted Vivid! to be. Our goal was, and is for Vivid! to be a fun and chill environment. We want this to be a place where people love to come “hang out” and get their hair done. And of course, we strive to put out a great product every time. Vivid! encompasses our personalities and style perfectly. It is bright, but edgy.
L: Frankly I came into the industry never wanting to own a hair salon. So that actually largely influenced my business model. Salons normally take advantage of their stylists. If you work for a great salon you're normally not making maximum money, the salon is. I wanted to create a unique environment where the Vivid brand helps individual stylists promote their own brands within and outside of the Vivid brand, make lots of money, and enjoy their passion and enjoy coming to work. With that being said, we can all promote our own style and have creative freedom. Vivid! Color Cut Style is about being fashion forward, edgy, and out of the confines of the social norm. I wear what I want, I say what I want, and I do what I want. It's very freeing but that also comes with huge responsibility because we do still want business. Ha!
How did you meet? Was it business at first sight?
L: We met in cosmetology school at Paul Mitchell Columbia. I was one of the first of the students to approach Kayla when she switched from day to night school and we were friends throughout. It was weird that we didn't know each other before because of our circle of friends. After school we lost touch for a bit but we worked a block away from each other. When you say business at first sight, upon reconnecting later it totally was. I was initially working on my own brand. I knew I was going to open a salon and I got a call from Kayla with an opportunity literally TWO days before I signed a lease on another building. We met a day later, talked about our vision, and that was for sure business at first sight.
Allie, how did you find your place at Vivid! Color Cut Style? Tell us the story of you joining the Vivid team.
A: I met Lydia when I was fresh in school. I noticed her teaching some of the more advanced students a really sweet techniques and I walked up and started watching. I was mind blown by the way she spoke and how she taught her work. Later on in school, I started posting my work on social media to get my name out there. Lydia saw my work online and contacted me asking me if I would work for them. After reading that message, I instantly started freaking out because I couldn't believe that I had the opportunity to start my career at somewhere as awesome Vivid working under Kayla and Lydia. They were very welcoming and still help me, teach me new things, and provide me with everything I need to this day.
What were the first steps you took when deciding to open a salon?
K: My first step was calling Lydia! I knew I couldn't do it alone. We just sat down together and went over business ideas, how we wanted our salon to run and feel. We had all of the same thoughts on how we wanted it. It was such a good feeling. Once we decided that this was something we wanted to do, we came up with the name, and started getting our ducks in a row. The first big business move, was filing for our LLC. And we were so excited to walk out of the office with that piece of paper.
L: Like I said before, I was already diligently working on my own salon brand and was going into the plans of renovating a space and working out finances. By myself and working from scratch was super overwhelming. I was making floor-plans, business plans, and trying to get a $30,000 business loan. Horrifying to say the least. I'm really good at budgets, big pictures, and goals but I'm not so great at the design, small details, and actually taking those steps to do the in between. I was stressed but I knew it's what I wanted to do. So moving down to a smaller scale when kayla called me was a huge relief. We really are like yin and yang when it comes to business owning because our strengths and weaknesses compliment each other. I used what I had figured out ahead of time to apply to what we started. We came up with a name, the space was already up-fitted for a salon (which was not the case for my preliminary endeavor), we budgeted accordingly and started advertising.
What challenges have you faced owning your own business?
K: For me, the biggest challenge has been trying to stay financially stable. Trying to balance the salon's overhead while keeping my personal life in check. It's been a struggle, but I am super grateful for all of the support we have. For anyone considering starting a small business, my biggest advise is to be very aware of your finances, and have a good support system.
L: I feel like I have a hard time feeling successful without having clients calling/walking in non-stop. We definitely have a draw but I want more coming in and I'm not good at advertising. I'm also TERRIBLE at social media. Which is a huge part of business growth in this generation. Finances are also a huge challenge. I feel like my success is definitely measured in much more than money, however if you're going solely off of that, learning to budget and stretch what you've got and actually start to turn profits is really hard and I'm nowhere where I want to be, or Vivid to be, yet.
What is the most rewarding part of owning your own business?
K: I don't think I could name just one. I still have to pinch myself occasionally to make sure it's real! HahaI never thought that I would own a business by the time I was 22 years old. It's unreal, but it really is rewarding. Also, the freedom of working for myself and setting my own schedule is fantastic. Don't get me wrong though, I work...a lot. And the salon is on my mind ALL OF THE TIME.
L: For me it's weird. I get off to being a catalyst to other people's success and happiness. It's why I love educating and creating better stylists than myself. It's why I love to produce that spark in my client's eyes on a bad day. If I can make a living off of making people successful and happy then that's so cool to me.
When it comes to marketing, what works best for Vivid! Color Cut Style? What do you do to keep customers coming back?
K: Marketing is one of our biggest struggles right now I think. We are still trying to figure out what is going to work best. Our number one thing, is always going to be recommendations. We appreciate all of our clients and family that send us new business. Social media is also super important for any business these days. We aren't the best at keeping up with our social media outlets, but it's a work in progress! We are in the process of setting up some really cool things like a rewards program, referral program, and some other things! So be on the lookout for that!
L: I always tell other stylists that the best marketing tool is referrals. I would rather have 10 loyal clients who come back and will constantly be telling everyone around them that I did their hair than 50 random people who will never come back and never mention my name. That's a stylist's job security. Like I said before, marketing is so different now. You can't just run a billboard, paper ad, or put a sign up. I can't ask my granddad, who has owned a business for 40 years, how he did it because it doesn't work that way anymore. Instagram is a huge thing. We have been trying to pump that with fun, interesting and helpful posts so that retains followers and attention. Just getting your name out there is the most important. If you are good at what you do, you will grow exponentially.
What are your Goals for Vivid!? Where do you see yourselves in the future?
K: Our main goal is to make our clients happy. In the end, that is our #1 priority. We want our clients to enjoy coming to Vivid! And to leave loving their hair every single time. Right now, our main focus is for the three of us to have a steady, reliable client base, and focus on making through our first year. We do hope to expand in the future, but at this point we don't have a timeline for that.
L: My goals are to produce successful stylists and if somebody says “I work(ed) at Vivid.” it will mean something. And I'm not gonna lie, I want to retire early, more than comfortably, and still make money. I don't want to have to worry if myself or family will be hurting when I quit working. I would love for my business to be able to sustain itself and grow enough to continue being a place where people can have fruitful careers after I decide to step back from behind the chair.
How has social media played a role in your business?
K: Social media has been a priority for us in our business for marketing and advertising. It is such a huge part of business these days. Our goal with social media is to draw in people that maybe wouldn't have known about us otherwise. We just try and get our name out there. We also use it as a resource to relate with our clients. For example, my client Katie* posts a picture of her husky on Instagram, and I see that. It gives me a fun topic of conversation for the next time I see her, because I have a husky too! So social media is great for business in that way.
What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs?
K: My biggest advice is to follow your dreams. You can do it. But also, be smart, make sure you know what you need to do to be successful before you jump straight in.
L: Budget. If you don't have the money, don't buy it. Your credit is your lifeline. I know that sounds lame and I should probably say something to the extent of, “never give up on your dreams, anything is possible” and it is, but you have to have a plan. Not all of us get a “small loan of a million dollars”.
Allie, what is your favorite part about working for Lydia and Kayla? Do you prefer working for a locally owned business?
A: My favorite thing about working for them is how much they do for me. I'm still very new at everything and they have been more than helpful. They work with me and don't expect me to know everything and if I am lacking in anything, they challenge me to do better. I absolutely prefer working for a local business. It's very relaxed and it gives me the freedom to express my style and personality, which is extremely important to me because I am an artist. --- It's just so much fun working here that It doesn't feel like a job.