Attracting a multiethnic clientele is just plain good for business.
African-American hair stylist Susan Clayton always felt comfortable working on any woman’s hair texture. “My father was a hairdresser, so I learned different techniques from him,” she says. “And at school I worked on a lot of Caucasian clients.” Race wasn’t an issue until she started thinking about opening her own salon. “I was concerned that if I opened my own shop, being a black woman, I might lose some of my Caucasian clients.” Around that time Clayton met Madeline Bayard, a Redken educator, and they realized they wanted the same thing—an intimate salon where people truly got to know each other. And, being two different races, the duo inherently created a multiethnic atmosphere. In 1994 Clayton and Bayard opened the Clark-Morley Salon in downtown Baltimore. After 21 years in business, the benefits of having a multiethnic environment has become abundantly apparent. “I’m pulling in so much more business than my father ever did,” says Clayton. “And the benefits aren’t just monetary; you learn more about people, you open minds, and you create a place for healthy conversation about differences,” says Bayard. Here, Clayton and Bayard offer their advice for creating a multiethnic salon:
- Think of hair as fiber “That way you won’t freak out when you start working on vastly different hair textures. Everyone’s hair type has its pros and cons. It’s your job to work with that particular fiber—be it fine, coarse, curly or straight—and make it look its best. The bottom line is, hair is hair,” says Clayton.
- Encourage conversation “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve noticed one of Madeline’s clients trying to discreetly watch when I’m working on a client of another race. Go ahead and explain the differences and similarities. Just make sure your client is comfortable and show everyone that it’s really no big deal,” says Clayton.
- Enhance your styling product Selection “Your current array of shampoos and conditioners will most likely work on a variety of hair textures. But styling products, that’s where you need to have a larger assortment. Products that work on straight hair, naturally curly hair or relaxed hair can differ greatly,” says Bayard.
- Don’t take offense “Sometimes, when a new Caucasian client meets me for the first time, I can see a look of apprehension. I don’t let that bother me. I just make them feel comfortable and show off my skills. They almost always rebook,” says Clayton.