Posted on January 10, 2018
Sola Salon Studios
When you work hard, you catch people’s attention, and when you make an impact and a lasting impression, you deserve some recognition for all your efforts. This is why we’ve created the Faces of Sola. Each year we select 10 salon professionals in the Sola community who have done just that; individuals who have earned the opportunity to be acknowledged for what they’ve done well. They are beauty pros that are excelling not only in the careers but also in their Sola studios.
We invite you with the opportunity to meet this year’s 2018 Faces of Sola not only on a beauty professional and a business owner level but also a personal level because we, the Sola community, are a community of truly unique individuals who can relate to each other on many levels.
There is so much to say and learn about Polly. For starters, Polly is 73 years young and has spent 50+ years of her life behind the chair. We are honored to have the first black hairdresser and first black salon owner in Cherry Creek (a neighborhood of Denver) in our Cherry Creek Sola and a 2018 Faces of Sola. During our interviews and at our photo/video shoot, she shared stories with us about cutting hair the day Martin Luther King Jr. spoke, opening up her salon to cut white women’s hair for free that day alongside her black clientele. Her spirit, and passion for people, and her outlook on life is utterly infectious and frankly, we could all use a little Polly in our lives. Here are some more interesting things about Polly:
Polly The Person: When she’s not giving top-notch service and care in her salon, she mentors inmates at an all-women prison. Polly has created a 12-week program that teaches these women about strength, and self-love, finding your purpose, and learning how to navigate life. She is devoted to her faith and helping her community.
Polly The Beauty Pro: She was a bit of a trailblazer and pioneer in the ‘60s for the hairdresser community. Actually, she’s the reason you can charge $65 for a haircut. Polly was one of the key players in making it so that hairdressers could raise their prices.
Polly The Business Owner: Her best business advice is this: “Make sure you understand the working side of running a business, and not just focus on the styling side of it all. Spend time and surround yourself with people who are excellent at business development. I honestly think that’s what makes Sola so successful.”
Where do we even begin with Chris?! He’s chock-full of passion, charisma, drive, experience, knowledge, connections, and…an amazing, down-to-earth and warm personality. Chris has a born-to-give spirit. From helping impoverished people in other countries to cutting hair for the homeless to having dreams of becoming an educator to help others expand their knowledge and skills (whether that be in hairdressing/barbering or in business & marketing), we knew the minute we interviewed Chris Matthews for the first time, that making him one of our 2018 Faces of Sola was an obvious choice. Here are some interesting facts about him:
Christopher The Person: On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, he generally works as an attorney and a small business start-up strategist, primarily with social enterprises. Then on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, he works in his shop as a barber/hairstylist. To say he’s mastered the art of balancing work and passion is an understatement!
Christopher The Barber: He’s was that kid who used to cut all his friend’s hair before he was even old enough to drive. Being a barber through college is what helped him, in his own words, not to live a college life on Ramen Noodles. He was half-tempted to give it up altogether once he took the bar exam after law school, but his passion for the craft and his outstanding portfolio is what has kept him in the game.
Christopher The Business Owner: During our interview, we asked him if he had 10K to invest in his business/brand, he said, “I would look into getting a larger suite, along with an assistant, and would add a serious coffee/espresso station. I’ve always wanted to do a hipster coffee shop/barbershop. I want to serve espresso, and create lattes and latte art, while someone is shampooing hair, and give them a macchiato.”
Have you ever met someone who radiates confidence, creativity, and compassion? Well, meet Ashley, because she’s the real deal, and we’re thrilled to have her as one of our 2018 Faces of Sola! When she’s not in her Sola studio, this certified color master is an educator for MATRIX and a true foodie at heart. So much that she has this unbridled desire to own a gluten-free food truck and even centered her entire honeymoon around Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives spots. Here’s what else makes us adore Ashley:
Ashley The Person: When we asked this educator what kind of class she would like to teach someone that was NOT related to the hair industry, she said, “Oh definitely the art of storytelling. This class is the only class I have ever taken after high school and outside of the beauty industry. This has done so much for me in terms of helping me express what I’m trying to say and even knowing how to talk to people in a setting that I’m not very comfortable in. That’s something I would love to teach someone else.”
Ashley The Beauty Pro: During a MATRIX workshop, she had the opportunity to work with an improv instructor who taught her the importance of being interested and not interesting. “For someone who talks way too much like me, that was really eye-opening and it has totally changed the way I do consultations with new clients, especially being in my own studio,” she shared. “When new people come to me through either Sola website or through my booking website, I always go back to that ‘be interested, not interesting’ and it has totally changed the amount of stuff I have learned about that new client in our first meeting.”
Ashley The Business Owner: Imagine being able to pay your Sola studio rent in retail profit. Ashley does just that. She has mastered the art of retailing and has established a strong relationship with her sales consultant. Making product knowledge a top priority and educating her clients on how to use them, and creating a remarkable retail area in her studio, is her not-to-secret secret.
Alex has this certain energetic and endearing quality about him that makes him completely approachable and genuine. He’s absolutely adored by everyone at his 33-studio Birmingham Sola location and his personality is carefree and versatile. We’re pretty sure that if Alex wasn’t standing behind the chair, he would most likely be a personal trainer and/or nutritionist because the healthy lifestyle he leads is beyond impressive. See what else we found interesting about Alex:
Alex The Person: He’s a single dad who has mastered the art of time management and creating routines in his personal life to help him succeed in his professional life. When he’s not in the salon, he’s making memories with his adorable 5-year-old son, Hudson.
Alex The Beauty Pro: Teaching and mentoring others are some of his proudest passions. When he’s not working for Paul Mitchell as an International Educator, he’s collaborating and educating with Antonio Heath, one of our 2017 Faces of Sola.
Alex The Business Owner: He’s always been a big risk taker and strongly believes that in order to succeed, you have to take risks, market yourself, your brands and put yourself out there and show the world your work in its raw essence.
Ashley Lewis is someone who has definitely caught our eye. We’ve been watching her just absolutely killing it on social media over the course of this past year, and knew she needed to be one of our 2018 Faces of Sola. During her interview, we learned a lot about the colorist who has an ongoing “closed” book (she’s not accepting any new clients!) and learned her secret about how to make your client’s Instagram photos look professional and vibrant. No, it’s not investing in a good ring light (although yes, you should use a ring light), but everything to do with painting a wall with a high-reflective white paint. It truly makes a difference. You can see more Ashley’s Instagram shots and her how-tos, HERE. See what else makes her pretty special:
Ashley The Person: When she was in Key West, on vacation with her husband, and 26 weeks pregnant, she prematurely went into labor. Fortunately, she was able to be transported to Miami and had her son at 28 weeks, who is a healthy and happy 2.5-year-old today. During her three-month stay in a Miami hospital, Ashley learned a lot about perseverance and staying focused. “Instead of having to worry about what was to come, I had to face it as it came,” she explains. “I’ve always been pretty laid back, but this experience made me realize that nothing is a big deal. I will always find the light in any situation. I am a true optimist, and this experience only enhanced that.”
Ashley The Beauty Pro: When she’s not making her color clients’ dreams come true, she’s an educator for The Business of Balayage. After continuously engaging with them on Instagram, and after applying to their open call for educators, she has been teaching her techniques and providing tips to colorists who want to take their skills to the next level.
Ashley The Business Owner: Ashley only offers color services to her clients. That’s it. By doing so, it has made her happier to be in the salon, while also making her business exceptionally profitable. She has found her true passion and area of expertise and she is laser-beam focused on cultivating that day in and day out. In fact, 85% of her business is…you guessed it…balayage!
An aspiring health coach, Morgan is totally killing it as an esthetician with a focus on organic, environmentally friendly products and of course beautiful skin (she's currently taking clients seven days a week!). She is a beaming ball of positive energy; an all-around lovely person with a charismatic draw about her. Maybe it has something to do with her desire to lead with kindness and her empowered spirit to heal and help others. Here are a few other standout qualities and facts about Morgan:
Morgan The Person: When we asked Morgan what her best life advice would be for others, she shares this: “It’s a quote that I read, but it makes so much sense. ‘Every answer that you seek and everything that you’re looking for and everything you need is already within you.’ It’s within yourself—you already know what you should be doing. Also, struggling is good. Struggling is what makes you come out on the other side feeling accomplished and important. Don’t look at your struggles as something that is negative.”
Morgan The Beauty Pro: We all have those rewarding moments in our careers, and for Morgan, making an impact on her client’s lives are more than just rewarding. “My business isn’t so much about skin care, it’s about building my community,” she shares. “If somebody isn’t comfortable in who they are because they have bad skin or they need to get their eyebrows done or something, they cover their face more and their shoulders come in and they walk a little bit lower. I have clients that have extreme acne or extreme pigmentation and when you know that you’re doing something that also builds them up and then they’re happier, and then they’re like trickling their feelings throughout the community you live in, I would say that’s the most rewarding thing about doing what I do.”
Morgan The Business Owner: Morgan has also mastered the art of retailing so much, that she also pays her rent in retail. She even has big dreams of starting her own product line. If Morgan had 10K to spend on building her business/brand, she said that she would use this money to do just that.
Not gonna lie, Amanda had us in tears during her interview. She spoke so eloquently about her father, who had passed away, expressed such love and gratitude for her husband who has helped her along her Sola journey, and shared highlights and struggles she’s embraced to achieve what she has today. She is a true example of how sometimes you just have to chase your dream and take a leap of faith. For her, it was opening up her Sola studio, and it was the best decision she could have ever made.
Amanda The Person: When she spoke about her father who she lost to cancer, she learned a lot about herself during the grieving process and shared this beautiful outlook on experiencing trauma and loss: “I view trauma like a puzzle that just kind of falls all over the floor. I’m going through life right now with intention and putting together this 1000 piece puzzle, piece by piece, trying to figure out what that picture is going to look like.”
Amanda The Beauty Pro: When we asked Amanda what would be the best career advice she could give someone, her answer was quite simple: “I would say, ‘Why not?’ Why not just try and explore it. Don’t let anything or anyone hold you back. Just do it. You’re not going to know unless you try it.”
Amanda The Business Owner: Amanda is passionate about her clients on a much higher and mental level. When we asked her if she could teach her clients a class, her answer had nothing to do with product knowledge, styling, or after-care. It had everything to do with self-care. She would tell them they are enough and teach them how to love themselves. That their hair is there to celebrate who they are.
LaShonda is one of the best and well-known natural hair care specialists in Atlanta, Georgia. Her passion is not only to provide outstanding hair care services and styling to her clients but also to help build their self-esteem and confidence. As a young mother, LaShonda began her career as a hairdresser while raising her son. When he was only 10 years old, LaShonda opened her salon at Sola – and in the blink of an eye, 11 years later, she continues to thrive and grow, year after year. Let’s get to know Lashonda a little more:
LaShonda The Person: She became a single mom at the age of 15 and was able to balance young motherhood and cosmetology school and a big life move from Ohio to Georgia. She absolutely beams when she speaks about her son, who is now graduating from college and becoming a research scientist. Remember her advice next time life gets you down: “I think life is full of obstacles and you have to push thru. You can either let the obstacles consume you or you can use the energy and push forward. It will pass eventually, but it is up to you on how you’re going to pass thru it. Do you let it take advantage of you and let it get the best of you, or do you accept it for what it is and grow from it and push thru? It’ll pass, but you have to look towards that light. Just keep moving.”
LaShonda The Beauty Pro: Many of you can relate to LaShonda’s biggest career obstacle—leaving a commission-based salon. Taking that leap of faith and accepting that level of risk was one that she struggled with, but…she pushed thru and followed her own advice, and frankly, it was the best decision she could have ever made.
LaShonda The Business Owner: One quality that is endearing about LaShonda is that she has the ability to describe her salon and if it were a person. It is a true testament that she flawlessly knows her brand and business inside and out. Can you do the same? Here’s how she describes hers: Tress Elite is knowledgeable, but one that isn’t for everyone. She is for someone who not only wants the best but is willing to invest in the time and effort to get there. She’s going to give you what you want, but it takes patience. If you don’t have the patience to get through the journey, it’s ultimately not for you. She is reliable and resourceful, trustworthy, and you can relax, be comfortable, and be yourself around her. You never have to worry about being judged. You will leave feeling empowered and being informed on what to do at home. She’s always around to answer your questions and will follow up and make sure you left the salon completely satisfied. We are going to have a partnership to work together to achieve a goal.
What’s interesting about Jennifer is the fact that she never had big dreams of becoming a hairdresser. But now that she is, Jennifer is making a big name for herself in the Ann Arbor area and amongst the Sola community. Her Instagram is growing, and her color, cut, and styling are completely flawless. Frankly, she’s an up-and-coming force to be reckoned with. Here are a few facts we’ve learned about Jennifer that have left us wanting more (and because we want more, we’ve made her a 2018 Faces of Sola!).
Jennifer The Person: She is a 1st generation immigrant who came here to pursue the American dream. Jennifer came to the United States from the Philippines with several other friends to work in the IT world. After a while though, she grew tired of her day-to-day work and found it quite impossible to continue down the IT path. After hearing about a beauty school that offered night classes, Jennifer made the decision to enroll, because she knew it was something she could learn and make a business out of it for herself.
Jennifer The Beauty Pro: When people say, “I wish I could clone myself” well, Jennifer has done just that. She has hired and trained an assistant to multiply herself in the salon. It was a strategic business decision to make better use of her time. To make sure she covered all her bases in regards to training, she educated herself beforehand and took the 2-day Paramount Business Class offered by UNITE Haircare.
Jennifer The Business Owner: She is tenacious about making sure each and every single client has a luxurious experience in her Sola studio. Even to the point of installing a dimmable chandelier and turning off the overhead fluorescent lights during the shampoo portion of the service.
Mahogany truly is a breath of fresh air and is intoxicating to be around. She has a vibrant personality, a wicked sense of humor, and is an incredibly talented and well-educated hairdresser who has this unrestrained desire to share the wealth of knowledge with others. She is a national educator for John Paul Mitchell Systems and when she’s not teaching other beauty pros, she’s teaching her two sons how to be the best little humans they can possibly be. How could we not have her in our 2018 Faces of Sola?! Here’s what else we find fascinating about Mahogany:
Mahogany The Person: Growing up, her mother had a friend who worked at the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis who used her as a hair model on a regular basis. It was during this period in her life, at a very young age, that she learned that she was going to have to work extremely hard for what she wanted in life. “I was always told I could do whatever wanted by my mother, and that I would probably have to work harder than the person sitting next to me because I was a girl and because I was bi-racial,” she shares. “My mother never put any limitations on me and always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do. I feel like that absolutely has led into every aspect of my life.”
Mahogany The Beauty Pro: One of the biggest obstacles Mahogany overcame in her career was how others saw her ethnicity. In school and at the beginning of her careeer, she had to work hard to prove she was capable of doing all types of hair. “A lot of people didn’t expect me to be good at doing their hair because of my ethnicity,” she adds. Once the word was out about her skills and personality, she had no problem building a thriving, robust clientele based on referrals. "I don't advertside and I feel very accomplished to have acquired such a diverse clientele."
Mahogany The Business Owner: Who has made the biggest impact on her business? In addition to Paul Mitchell Systems, it would have to be Nina Kovner. Here’s why: “I don’t think I have enough words for what that woman has done for my self confidence and my self respect. Even though I have confidence, it does take dips. Her whole philosophy and doing things you do for yourself so you can do better things in the world has resonated with me. She has great advice and she makes you work for it. She pushes you to be a critical thinker and makes the right choices for you. She helps me to see more opportunities and what it is to be a hairdresser; the soul of hairdresser and beyond just the hands of a hairdresser. Nina has helped me see my real value.”