I received an interesting letter recently from a student at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. Erica Hampton wrote to make a point I've heard many times before.
Erica's roommate Kelly wanted to have her hair cut and styled, but was concerned that none of the salons in the area would know how to handle her type of texture. "Kelly looked through the phone book to find a stylist close to school who could do her hair," Erica wrote. "There were only two salons listed that rendered services to African Americans. She picked one that she had heard about from friends. When she got there, she noticed there were no other African Americans in the shop, but brushed it off as the stylist went to work on her hair. After two hours, the stylist turned Kelly around to the mirror, and what she saw left her speechless. Her hair was dry, brittle and destroyed."
As Erica noted, there's a clientele that's definitely underserved, leading her to question why more stylists haven't tapped into this potentially lucrative market. "Most hairstylists migrate to urban areas because there are more clients and a greater chance for revenue," she wrote. "But there's also competition. In smaller areas, the unsatisfied clientele will immediately migrate to the salon that will cater to their needs."
The message in this letter keeps getting louder: To be successful, you need to be able to service any client who comes through your door. Demographics are shifting, and not only do you not want to turn business away, you may find clients who need what you can provide. So don't limit yourself by what you don't know.
Our talented cover stylist understands the rewards of being able to work with all hair textures. New York salon owner Ted Gibson styles hair for fashion shows and magazines, and keeps celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Rosario Dawson looking gorgeous. For our story , he worked with models who had natural and relaxed hair. "Nothing upsets me more than stylists being afraid of textured hair," says Gibson. "Regardless of hair type, I can make anybody who sits in my chair look and feel beautiful."
Of course, education is the key to this success. I encourage you to look into the learning opportunities available in 2005. One not to miss: the International Beauty Show New York (April 17-19) will include an educational track on Global Texture as well as mainstage education from Luis Alvarez, Brent Borreson, Robert Cromeans, Jill Leitz, Martin Parsons, Scott Cole, Ruth Roche, Sandra Smith, Linda Yodice and Sandra Yu. Visit www.ibsnewyork.com, or call (800) 427-2420.
Also, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Can one salon service all clients? Have you ever had to turn a client away? Do you have a stylist on your team who specializes in multicultural hair? Send me an e-mail and we'll share your thoughts in a future issue.
—Robbin McClain, Editor-in-Chief, E-mail Robbin at [email protected]