What You Could Learn From a 22 Year Old Salon Owner
Emily Jane Pitt, owner of Salon Blue in Bridgnorth, became a salon owner aged 22. Now aged 24 she reflects on what she’s learnt from being a young salon owner and the advantages and disadvantages her age has given her.
What are the advantages of being a young salon owner?
I definitely think there are advantages to being a young salon owner, I am more in touch with trends, I am fit and well and think I have a lot more energy. I find it easy to facilitate social media and stay in touch with clients easily. I think the biggest advantage of becoming a salon owner at a young age is that I don’t have any other big commitments. I have been able to give my business everything it needs. I have been completely present, without having other commitments such as children.
There are also some disadvantages I suppose. Because I have achieved so much at such a young age, I find I put pressure on myself to keep learning and achieving. I am constantly wondering what I can do next, and how I can grow my business. Its never-ending. I think it’s just who I am, I am definitely someone who likes to be achieving. The other disadvantage is that I will struggle with time off when I do deicide to start a family. I am at the salon so much and worry about delegating and taking a step back.
Because I have achieved so much at such a young age, I find I put pressure on myself to keep learning and achieving. I am constantly wondering what I can do next, and how I can grow my business.
How did you become a salon owner at a young age?
Being a salon owner had always been something I had aspired to, but I never dreamt I would achieve it at such a young age! I still can’t believe it sometimes. After qualifying as a hairdresser, I actually moved to a different salon and became part of a team on a rent-a-chair basis. I think I was desperate to be my own boss! I worked on a self-employed basis there for around four years. And then I was approached by my previous manager, the lady who had trained me, and taken me on at the beginning of my career. She was coming out of the hairdressing industry and offered me the opportunity to purchase her business as a going concern. I was totally shocked, scared and excited all at the same time. After a lot of thinking, talking to loved ones, looking at the pros and cons, and questioning myself and my ability a thousand times I decided to go for it. It was a stressful 6 months getting ready for the takeover of the salon, but I really enjoyed it. All of my ideas and everything I had dreamt of were coming to life, I couldn’t quite believe it! I launched my new business on the 7 January 2017, with so much love and support from everyone around me. The best feeling ever!
I was approached by my previous manager, the lady who had trained me […] She was coming out of the hairdressing industry and offered me the opportunity to purchase her business as a going concern.
Do you ever find that some people patronise you because of your age? If so, how do you assert yourself? Are there any examples that you could give of this happening?
This doesn’t happen so much now, but it used to. When I first started, I used to feel like people would take advantage. Especially some brand representatives, they would try and put pressure on for me to buy certain things. I have always been on the ball with this sort of thing though because I knew it would be the case because I was so young. There has also been occasions when older clients have been rude, but I am very professional so just sort it out appropriately.
Are some of your staff older than you? Have you ever had instances where staff have thought they have known better about certain things because they are older?
I have and still do have staff that are older than me, and when I first became a manager, I found it hard to be assertive. But I have started to find it easier, especially since I’ve had a business coach and learnt more about the business side of things. One of my older team members is in fact my cousin. Because we all get on so well at work, and are also friends, it’s sometimes hard to switch from friend to boss. I make a point of sitting with my team once a month to insure we are all happy and to throw some ideas around. I certainly don’t claim to know everything, and its nice to listen to the teams ideas because they often come up with some great ideas.
I have and still do have staff that are older than me, and when I first became a manager, I found it hard to be assertive.
How have you made sure that you get respect?
Firstly, I always respect others. From team members, to clients and everyone in between. I am always grateful for everything I have achieved and never take it for granted. However, my team and my clients see how hard I work to make everything I do a success, and I think that’s the main reason I have respect. I have great professional relationships with my brand reps, and that certainly helps with the running of things. I have a very strong personality, and am true to my brand values, so as long as I stay true to that and keep showing up as that, then I don’t think respect will ever be a problem.
What advice would you give to aspiring salon owners, whatever their age?
Go for it! It is hard work, but so rewarding. Be clear on the direction you want to take your business, and never be under the impression you can’t keep learning. I learn something new every day, and never think I know it all. Be clear on your ideal client, know your niche and who you want to attract, don’t be under the impression that you are perfect for everyone out there, so be clear on what you are good at and brand your business to that. You want to be known for something, instead of not being recognised in an overcrowded industry.
Be clear on the direction you want to take your business, and never be under the impression you can’t keep learning. I learn something new every day, and never think I know it all.
What do you think salon owners who are older than you could learn from you?
You can never stop learning, our industry is always evolving and you can easily get left behind. Set yourself a budget every year to spend on growing your business. I also think I am good at thinking outside the box, at ways to stand out and stay motivated in business. I set goals every month with a clear plan of what I will need to do to achieve them.