Posted on February 13, 2018
When I moved to Sola Salon Studios almost 15 years ago - as the first-ever Sola salon owner - I had no idea that I was about to fall head over heels in love with not just my career, but every aspect of my life, too! In a nutshell, here’s a look at the things that make my life with Sola a life to truly cherish.
Becoming an Entrepreneur
I signed my lease with Sola after meeting Sola’s co-founders, Matthew Briger and Stratton Smith, in a coffee shop way back in 2004. It was their passion and vision that allowed me to see myself as a businesswoman for the first time — ever. With their help, I took a leap of faith that many of my friends and former co-workers didn’t quite understand. I’m pretty sure they all thought I was crazy, actually! But right away I felt empowered by the possibilities and my studio quickly became a safe platform for me to grow as both a stylist and an entrepreneur.
Family First - Period
Over the last 15 years at Sola, my personal life has evolved. I was single when I signed my original lease and was focused 100 percent on growing my salon business. My priorities shifted as I got married and had a beautiful daughter, Evie. I realized at Sola I could juggle and do it all. Last year, I evolved again into the role as a single mother. Sola gave me the flexibility I needed to create a new routine that worked for my family and the freedom to tweak my plan as Evie grows up. Shifting from a dual-income household to having all the financial responsibility on me has given me a new appreciation of being an entrepreneur because there is so much opportunity and no limitations. I feel more empowered than ever to grow my salon business, increase my income, be a role model for my daughter and leave a legacy that she will be proud of. Evie is my inspiration and my family focus really does come first thanks to Sola.
Creating Space for "Me" Time
Alone time is very rare in my world. But that’s OK, because what fuels me is my passion for hair. When you love what you do, your job becomes your hobby, and so for me personal time is often spent exploring other aspects of the industry I love. Most recently, I’ve been inspired to give back by helping to raise money for the PBA Disaster Relief Fund, both on my own and also with Sola. I also like to volunteer my time for the future of the industry at events like the PBA Beacon and Paul Mitchell School's The Caper Experience.
Speaking of Paul Mitchell, I’ve been a National Educator for Paul Mitchell for 27 years! The company started its “Focus Salon Program” in 2004 — right around the time my interest in Sola peaked. Talk about the stars aligning! I opened my salon as a Paul Mitchell Focus Salon, and my business continues to grow year after year through that partnership. Paul Mitchell has been essential to my career, but there are plenty of other potential partners for Sola salon owners to consider. In my experience, the most important thing to look for in an industry partner is connection, or vision alignment. Sola really encourages salon owners to link up with the best in the industry, so if you need help finding the right partner, don’t be shy about asking someone. Your studio manager and fellow Sola professionals are great resources!
My Sola Flag
In 2013, I joined Sola’s corporate team, mainly to help build relationships within the professional beauty industry. I have to give a big shout out to our marketing team because they’ve included me in developing some of the most innovative programs in the industry, including Sola Pro (an exclusive educational app), the Sola Sessions (live education events), the Sola Blog, and SolaGenius, a cutting-edge scheduling app. Last year, I signed on as Sola’s Culture Ambassador and Director of Industry Relations, and it’s hard to describe just how fun it has been to represent Sola at industry events while connecting with the Sola family that inspires me every day. I fly my Sola flag proudly!
I can’t talk about what I love about Sola without mentioning my biggest success story. I learned that if I can pay my lease with my retail income, then I’m able to use my service dollars for my salary. This tactic has boosted my bottom line like you wouldn’t believe, and it has given me the opportunity to save — for vacation, continued education, retirement, and most important, my daughter’s college tuition (not always saving for these at the same time, but prioritizing and determining how to delegate savings). The best part is, retailing product can be so simple when it’s done right. My focus has never been on “sales.” Instead of trying to sell my clients something, I simply talk to them about the products I can’t live without. My customers look at me as an authority and I strive to never let them down.
I love getting my tech on, and that’s something I never thought I’d be saying! When I opened Kim Bennett Studios, I didn’t even accept text messages on my Nokia phone! Fourteen years later, I’m a SolaGenius fiend. This user-friendly app has catapulted my business to a whole new level. Seriously! It feels like I have hired the best assistant money can buy. My clients love it, too. Utilizing the marketing and branding tools Sola offers has made my salon look and feel more professional than ever before.
I wear many hats - and do a lot of things - but being behind the chair is where my soul comes alive. At Sola, I feel like I really can do it all. Now that's a #SolaLifeToLove!