Posted on April 20, 2017
Sola Salon Studios
We’re kicking off our Faces of Sola series with a social media savvy brow specialist from Brentwood, CA who caught our eye on Instagram! From her severely stunning and stylish salon to the beautifully executed before and after shots of her clients, Shaila Paredes @browsbyshaila is a top-notch artist and we are thrilled to have her in our Sola family.
Shaila was among the first to sign a lease at her Sola– a brave leap of faith as a brow artist in a community made up of over 85% hairdressers. We’re extremely honored to have Shaila as one of the 2017 Faces of Sola. She is super forward thinking, exceptionally creative and committed to her craft, and even developed her own line of products. Shaila embodies the formula every young entrepreneur must possess: drive, risk and conviction.
Get to know Shaila by reading her in depth interview with Sola below!
Your #MySola graphic states you feel creative in your Sola. Let’s talk about the creative process and creative thought you put into the designing and decorating of your Sola space.
As far as the colors go, I’ve always really been into black and white stripes, and when it came to decorating my space, I knew that I wanted to do everything in white, with an accent wall featuring those black and white stripes.
I wanted to keep things primarily white because it makes everything look very clean. I feel that’s very important for when a client comes in—they want to see and be in a space that is very clean.
When it comes to that pop of red you see, I have always worn red lipstick, and a lot of people and clients know and remember me by that. So since red is my favorite color, and because I have this thing for red roses, and because clients know I always wear red lipstick, I knew I had to include this pop of red in my space.
It’s funny because when I first got my Sola space, I was like, “Oh decorating this is going to be easy,” because it was a smaller, but it took some thinking to figure out where I was going to place furniture and everything.
I love my space, and I have tried hard to make it to where it represents my personality. I’ve incorporated everything that I love and what my clients would love as well.
You’ve done a great job tying it all together, and what a great backstory on why red is such a signature component of your personality and overall look, not just in the salon, but also for you! As far as your accent furniture and your decorative mirrors, glass shelves, the curtains, and all the cute and stylish containers you keep in your station, where did you go to purchase these?
When I first moved in, I was on such a tight budget and I couldn’t spend a lot of money on furniture, so I took a friend of mine who is an interior designer, and we went to IKEA for most of the furniture and accents in there. I even found that mirror above the roses at IKEA.
When it comes to the glass shelves and the glass jars on my station that I store my Q-Tips and cotton rounds in, I got all that kind of stuff at The Container Store. Some of those items are meant to be used as bathroom storage, but I just removed the lids and made them work for my station.
That chair came from a friend of mine who has a salon. She gave it to me, and I had it reupholstered because it was originally blue. It worked out perfectly.
Keeping everything looking clean and sanitized is extremely important to me.
I think it is safe to say that you have a bit of love and knack for interior decorating. What other creative outlets do you like to explore outside of your Sola studio? Any hobbies?
You know what? It’s kind of funny because I find creativity in all different forms. I love music, and I try to go to concerts as much as I can. On Instagram, I follow a lot of tattoo artists because I love clean lines and their use of color. My father is a music teacher, and for fun, he likes to paint, so I’ve always grown up in a creative environment. My fiance is also a drum tech.
I would have to say music is a very important thing in my life. Even in my Sola space. After I walk in, turn on my lights, and set up my station, I turn to my music. It puts me in a really good place and gets me excited to start working.
That’s really interesting that you said you like to follow tattoo artists. Much like a tattoo artist, a brow artist also has to be so precise with the lines she/he is making on a client’s face. Do you sketch or draw?
[Laughs] What’s funny about that is I am awful at drawing! I so wish I was good at it because I would really love to do it! I also do permanent makeup, so I will sit down and practice drawing brows and brush strokes. But I am so, so bad at drawing, which is funny because my dad is such a great artist, and so is my brother. I just don’t have it in me.
Well, maybe you don’t have it in terms of creating art on actual paper or canvas, but you can, and you do on skin.
Absolutely. I’ve also been doing makeup for years as well, for as long as I have been doing brows, and I just recently started getting back into doing more makeup. I missed doing it because it is another way of being and staying creative. I just recently bought a bunch of new eye shadows and lip palettes, and I’m really excited to start seeing what different colors look like on different skin tones.
Have you ever seen on Instagram the makeup artists who create these amazing lip murals?
Yes! They are amazing! I just recently saw on Instagram this makeup artist who draws different Disney princesses and little themes on just the lips. It’s so awesome. There’s a lot of really creative makeup artists out there, and it’s cool seeing that as well because it inspires me to get back into doing makeup.
Are you a fan of the makeup artist Pat McGrath?
Oh yeah. She has been doing makeup FOREVER, and I have ALWAYS loved her work. She is amazing. I’ve been following her for a long time now. I used to work at MAC about eight years ago, and back then I was a little more creative because I was doing makeup every day, but I have been so busy just doing brows that I stopped doing makeup. Following people like that on Instagram and seeing their work makes me want to do more makeup application in my studio.
Speaking of Instagram and makeup, I couldn’t help but notice on your Instagram that you actually retail your own line of products and makeup brushes. When did you start doing that? When did you take the leap of faith into private labeling?
I had started that right before I ventured out on my own. Right before I came to Sola and got my studio, I made the decision to start selling my own product line.
Not going to lie, but that’s a pretty risky undertaking and something that I think a lot of beauty professionals wish and want to embark on. Can you share same of the pros & cons you faced and learning experiences you’ve obtained along the journey?
As far as the “cons” go, I honestly can’t tell you any when it comes to doing it. In the beginning, it does take a bit of money to do something like this, but it is totally worth it. I’m so proud of the line I have been able to create. When I do a client’s brows, especially a new client, I don’t just shape the brows. I show them my product line and show them how easy it is to use by handing them a mirror and demonstrating just how simple it is to fill in their brows. Most of the time I hear, “Oh my God! That WAS so easy! I want the product.”
It really has been great doing this because I’ve been able to choose the products that I want. Right now there are a lot of different brow trends and a lot of people are using gels and creating a more filled-in brow. But for me, I like to create a very natural-looking brow, and my powders are very pigmented, so you only need to use a little bit to make them look natural.
For about a full year, I went through and tested around 10-15 different makeup lines. I ordered a bunch of samples and picked and chose exactly what I wanted and what colors I wanted to retail. I spent that year trying them out on different clients and different skin tones. I did my research. It’s so great and important to feel proud of your product line and to be able to show your clients exactly how to use it at home. I’ve had nothing but positive feedback from everyone!
Do you have any additional products on the horizon? Any future launches?
I want to expand my line, but right now I’m just trying to figure out exactly what that is. There’s nothing physically that I’m currently working on, but it is in my plan to expand.
In your Sola Spotlight, you mentioned you had a crazy unibrow in middle school.
[Laughs] That’s pretty much the reason why I started doing brows. As a kid, I was self-conscious about it. It was a crazy thick, dark, full unibrow, and when I was in junior high, I said to my mom, “I really want to go and get my brows done.” And the first time I got them done, one of my mom’s friend’s daughter did them, and she made them super pencil thin. It was horrible! After that, she started taking me to a nail salon to get them done, and every time they were done a different shape. It was just not working out, so I decided to start doing them myself. After I had started doing my own, I realized that I really liked doing it, so I started doing my mom’s and then my friends and family.
Back then, when I started doing them, brows were not as popular as it is now. I didn’t even know that was something you could make a career out of, but I did know it was what I wanted to do in a salon.
If it weren't for the fact you left the nail salon feeling completely dissatisfied and forced to take matters into your hands, we wouldn’t be having this conversation today, right?! So what are you doing in your day-to-day to ensure no client leaves YOUR space unhappy and unsatisfied because we all know some clients are quick to say “looks good” and rush out the door without being completely transparent and honest with the level of satisfaction.
You can definitely tell if someone is unhappy by their reaction. If I feel they are unhappy, then I tell them to please tell me because I can change and fix something. The last thing I want is for them to go home and try to fix it themselves. This isn’t only for the client. Yes, I want the client to be happy with their brows, and I want them to come back, but it’s also for me. I’m the type of person that if someone leaves and I don’t think they are happy, it is going to bother me.
I also try to build an instant relationship with them when they come to me. I want them to feel comfortable, and I don’t want them to be scared to tell me if they’re not happy. I’m going to be very honest with you that I’ve been lucky and haven’t had any bad feedback.
You just said something very interesting, and that is you have been lucky in your career and haven’t had any bad feedback. I feel like there are two reasons for that. One, it is probably because of your talent and level of expertise. The second reason is that you’re probably conducting a highly thorough consultation from the get-go. Am I right in assuming that?
So tell me what you’re doing during your consultation process.
Usually, clients come in knowing exactly what they want so they will come in with pictures. I also hand them the mirror, and we discuss exactly what they want. Some people want to go thinner; some people want to stay full. I’ve been very lucky that most of my clients have come in through referrals, so there is this established level of trust.
We also learned in your Sola Spotlight that you had an opportunity to work under and with three incredibly talented brow artists, two of whom have quite the large social media following. What did each one of them instill in you that has helped you become a successful businesswoman?
Eugenia Weston: I feel like my time with her and being able to apprentice for her has been the most important part of my career. She is still someone I look up to and follow. I learned from her how to be responsible. I had to do everything for her as an apprentice—book her appointments, schedule her day, get her lunch, etc. And I also learned how to do brows, and her method was only tweezing, which is harder to do than waxing. She is also an incredible makeup artist.
Anastasia Soare: I worked at an Anastasia counter, and the cool part about it was that Eugenia and Anastasia have a different way of doing brows. Eugenia looks at them from a makeup artist standpoint, and she likes a bit more of an arch. Anastasia though looks at them from more of an estheticians viewpoint. She likes them a bit more round, and not only tweezes but also waxes, so I was able to learn how to wax. Anastasia also retails products, and this gave me the opportunity to learn what I like and what I don’t when it comes to what’s out there.
Kelley Baker: From her, I learned the power of branding yourself and getting your name out there. She is really great and doing that, and she has a ton of social media followers. I learned the power of social media and how important it is to post your work. That’s why I started posting before and after photos of my clients.
All three of them are very different artists and it was great to see how each of them work. I was able to pull from each one of them and create my own style.
Being your own boss and being your own entrepreneur takes skill. How have you learned the business world? Did you take classes? Did you or do you have a mentor? What have you done to learn and understand all that it takes to running your own business?
Venturing out on your own is scary because everything is up to you to handle, but I was really confident in my work and my skills, so I pretty much went for it. I did learn a lot of the business side from Kelley. Seeing and learning from her gave me the confidence to know that I could handle it on my own. And you know what? I’m still learning! The business side of it is something I continue to learn every single day.
When I first opened at Sola, I subscribed to a bunch of business magazines, including Entrepreneur. My fiance and I love to watch Shark Tank and The Profit, and on social media, I follow Inc., Business Insider, Young Entrepreneurs. I like to see what other people are doing and apply it to my business.
Have you ever heard of the NPR podcast series called How I Made This?
No, but I’ll absolutely check it out.
You should check it out if you like to learn and apply from other people. One of the most interesting ones I’ve ever heard featured the Yvon Chouinard, the creator and owner of the brand Patagonia. One of his many business philosophies is not to focus all your time and budget on growth, but to invest in the quality of your products and service.
It’s funny you say that, because the other day, one of my co-workers said, “You know what Shaila? You’re going to be famous one day doing brows,” and I just laughed and said, “Oh thank you, that’s very sweet of you to say, but what I care about is staying busy, and I want my clients to be happy.” That’s what I care about. Obviously getting to a place where I could potentially open up more locations, that would be a plus, but what’s important to me and what makes me happy is to continue being busy and have my clients coming back.
I like how you refer to the other people in your Sola location as your “co-workers.”
That’s what I love about my Sola and where I am. A lot of people tend to leave salons because they want to work for themselves, and they also want to leave the drama that often comes with working in a salon. At Sola, we don’t have any of that because you do have your own space. We are a family—we support each other and refer each other clients. If you need your privacy, all you have to do is just shut your door.
Everyone enjoys coming to work every single day.
It’s nice to see how you all support each other and cross-promote.
Even though we are our own boss, and have our own individual space, we still have that feeling of community. And most importantly, the clients see all that, and they love it. I’m also in a unique position because I do just brows and all these hairstylists surround me, and they refer me their clients. A lot of my clients will schedule their brow appointments around the same time as their hair appointments. I’ve had clients come in as their hair color is processing. They know they are going to have to sit and wait for their color to process, so they’re like, “Well, I’m here. I may as well go and get my brows done!”
Last question for you. You have said in other interviews and on your Instagram page that you’re always thinking “what’s next.” Tell me, what’s next for Shalia?
I want to evolve and expand my product line, and I’m also working on offering more services. For example, I’ve been doing microblading, and it has been great! I’m also going to be taking another class on a technique that’s a bit more advanced, something I haven’t seen done much here in California. It’s somewhat more international and involves using a specific machine.