Episode 43: The truth about owning a salon

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Owning a salon is a crazy adventure, and definitely not as glamorous as it sounds. In this episode, Elizabeth and the amazing Lexi Lomax have an honest AF conversation about the struggles of solopreneurship and the unglamourous side of owning a salon. 

2:05 - “Watch Me”

Lexi has been doing hair for 11 years, and owning her salon for even longer. Her full-service salon is located in San Diego and she says booth rental has been her model since the beginning. She likes the idea of stylists being able to run their business within her business. Even though at the beginning, brand reps would come for a visit and find out she was booth renting and say she wasn’t going to make any money, she was like, “Watch me.”

Although the doubters are not what eventually made her succeed, she said it helped her keep going. 13 years later, no one comes into her salon anymore and tells her what can’t be done.

Whatever it is that you’re doing, you have to believe in whatever you are doing. Otherwise, any nasty comment or doubter will derail you.

After having success with the salon, she finally took the leap into coaching hairstylists a year ago. Elizabeth and Lexi talk about how amazing it is to do things that seem scary to reach your dreams, when it also is giving others permission to reach for their goals.

“You never know who you are going to impact.”

8:53 - You’re In The Hot Seat

What has been the scariest or worst moment of your career?

When Lexi opened her salon in 2007, and while 2007 was a great year - the financial crisis hit in 2008 and 2009 and things went downhill. Lexi and her now-husband also graduated college in 2008, and although everyone was full expecting to jump straight into good jobs, that was not the case. Lexi went from making so much money she didn’t know what to do with it to not being able to pay a huge chunk of property taxes on her building during this time. She remembers her parents taking her to the assessor's office and getting on a payment plan. Although she’s caught up on property taxes now, she said it took the better part of 4 years to pay it all back and it was really, really challenging. 

She remembers feeling during this moment, “Holy shit I can’t do this.” and wanting to crawl into a hole and be done. However, she somehow made it out, things are better now, she is stronger because of it, and she learned a HUGE lesson!

15:10 - Ask for help!

Elizabeth says when she went booth rent with her salon, she didn’t think at the time it was a big enough business to require a CPA or accountant. In hindsight, she says it would have been so helpful for her to have someone to help with taxes and finances back then. 

She says her accountant now had such a huge mess to clean up when she started with him, and she is so grateful that she works with an accountant now!

Lexi agrees and says that hiring experts to handle the things they are good at ALWAYS pays off in the long run. Even if you are good at bookkeeping as a hairstylist, that is still valuable time you are spending that could go elsewhere to help you grow your business further. The same thing applies to people who aren’t accountants. Elizabeth remembers her first time getting a housecleaner, and how much order it brought into her life. 

When it all comes down to it, you just can’t be your best self and focus on what’s important to you without the help! So find help & ask for help where you need it.

19:06 - Hot Mess Moments

Lexi shares a personal “hot mess” story where she realized she needed help.

She loves fashion and clothes and girly shit. In her first year of business, she made a ton of money. After the recession, she eventually began to make money again, but she was still just a one woman show and didn’t have anyone monitoring her.She wasn’t the best at saving at that time, and would spend a lot of money on clothes and fashion things. She remembers her closet being such a mess and so full of things she didn’t need, that she couldn’t see the floor. 

After college she was going through her overflowing closet getting ready to move out, choosing purses that she was going to give away. Much to her surprise, delight, and most of all - horror - one of the purses she opened up had $2000 in cash inside of it. She was happy to find a surprise two grand, but she also remembers feeling so irresponsible for not keeping better track of her money. She remembers telling herself, “Yikes, you’ve got to get this under control.”

Now Elizabeth shares her one of her worst “hot mess” moments, which was a huge lesson for her about delegation.

Last year Elizabeth’s son was experiencing some issues and had to get pulled out of preschool. Elizabeth thought it would be fine to run Hair Love Retreat events, continue coaching full time, and be a stay at home mom to take care of her son, who was now at home all day every day with her. She remembers thinking, “This will be fine.” It was not.

She was working in her home office, that has a big window looking out into the front yard so she could keep an eye on her son as he’s playing in the yard. With a busy workday ahead of her, she had a one on one with Strider, letting him know that she was going to be pretty occupied in the office and that he needed to be good.

At some point during the workday, Elizabeth let her dogs out into the backyard to go potty. She sees her son crouching down behind a pillar in the backyard, and she’s like “What is he doing?!” She comes outside to realize that her son, who has always been good about using the toilet, took a huge poop right on the ground. She freaked out, scared her dog Strawberry who then runs out of the backyard. Strider starts crying, and runs in the opposite direction. 

Elizabeth was then left with the decision to chase after her five year old having a meltdown or her dog who is three pounds, and hard to see on the road? She went after the dog first. She tracks down her dog, who her elderly neighbor picks up and scolds her for letting her dog run free. When she tracks down Strider, she gets scolded again by a different old lady about “letting” her son roam the neighborhood. 

When they finally make it back to the house, she finds her other dog running around in the backyard with her son’s poop in his mouth. 

Needless to say, more crazy shit happened that afternoon, but at the end of it Elizabeth decided it was time to hire a nanny. 

37:03 - How Lexi made it work

Lexi comes from a family line of entrepreneurs, so it was all she ever knew. Post-college, she had an opportunity to buy a building and came to her parents with a business plan to start a salon. She loved the business aspect of owning a salon, and piecing together the puzzle of making it work. Doing hair came later on, and now she helps coach stylists to do the same. 

Fun fact: Lexi and her mom also run a wine company!

At the end of the day, running a salon (as fun as it is) works just like any other business. 

44:40 - Let’s wrap it up

#1 Don’t give a shit what your neighbors think, hire help!

Ask for help when you need it! Get experts to help you with parts of your business. 

#2 Believe in yourself first, and stand firm regardless of naysayers

#3 When you feel overwhelmed, try your best and let those moments push you forward

Thank you for chatting with us Lexi! Be sure to follow this total boss babe on Instagram here.


Elizabeth Manuele