Life has a funny way of sending you signals when you least expect it. That’s what happened for educator and hairstylist Ash Fortis (@xostylistxo) when she was shopping in her local beauty supply and had an overwhelming urge to check on a vacant space a few doors down. Eager to invest in herself and take ownership of her business, it didn’t take long for Fortis to make an offer on the space, and today, the 4,000-square-foot studio houses her second salon location, Xo Hair Lab.
Though the name closely resembles her first salon (Xo Hair Studio), it’s what her clients asked for. “I put out an APB on my Instagram story and got tons of amazing name suggestions,” Fortis says. “We were actively working to identify our brand and also tie in our spa, so when a few of my followers suggested Xo Hair Lab, it felt perfect,” she adds. “It’s just another reason I’m so grateful for my social media community and the power of connecting with others.”
Fortis, who built her brand from the ground up, credits social media influence for her continued success. “When I graduated beauty school in 2011, I started an intensive apprenticeship and eventually moved to a booth rental,” Fortis says. “I grew a lot during that time because all of my marketing was digital. By utilizing social media, I was able to create a community of people who shared a common hunger for education, and I found my platform.”
Even though building a brand outside of the digital realm posed a new challenge, Fortis knew exactly what she wanted her salon to be like. “From the outside in, you are fully immersed in enchantment, from our custom-made hanging florals to the fairy lanterns that light up every corner,” Fortis says. Adding to the ambiance are an enormous grass wall that acts as a backdrop in the waiting area, custom woodwork and 14 concrete floating hair stations. “It’s a true escape and unlike anything else in the area,” Fortis says. “I felt that a one-of-a-kind design would create the opportunity to not only elevate the service experience, but also the stylist’s experience with their guests.”
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