Posted on May 19, 2017
Sola Salon Studios
The first time Tammy and Lauren Muniz stood out to us was during the #Sola5000 celebration. The red carpet leading into their studio alongside 5K spelled in red roses immediately caught our eye, and we knew this mother/daughter duo had something special! Shortly after, the bubbly Chattanoogans joined us in Denver for the first-ever Sola Session and from there, it was clear that they had to be a part of our 2017 Faces of Sola. As you read through this very in-depth article, you’ll see that the relationship Tammy and Lauren is so multifaceted. They are a mother/daughter duo who possess effective communication skills, are continuously collaborating, and who always remember that at the end of the day, their clients' needs come first! It’s a heartwarming and informative interview that is sure to give you the warm and fuzzies!
So tell us how this mother/daughter salon duo came to be.
Lauren: First off, I finished hair school about five years ago, and I had the chance to apprentice at the same salon my mom was working at. And what better mentor to have than your mom! I was also apprenticing for about 4 or 5 other stylists at the time, while I was also trying to build my own clientele.
Tammy, was the salon you were working at a commission-based salon or a booth rental salon?
Tammy: It was a booth rental salon, and I had been there for about 11 or 12 years. When I decided to switch gears go the Sola route, Lauren chose to go with me.
When you were working at that booth rental salon, what made you want and decide to go with opening up your own salon space at Sola? What made you want to switch gears?
Tammy: It was the opportunity for creativity and control. From the décor to the products I could retail, it was all of that. When I walked into Sola, I felt alive again. Since everything was built, I was able to come in and create my own space and environment.
Lauren: As her daughter, I was able to see a spark inside her when she did this. She was revamped. She was inspired having her own salon.
Tammy was the there a tipping point or did something happen that made you say, “I’m ready to have my own space”?
Tammy: Honestly, I feel like it was all divine guidance because I had received a couple of the Sola cards in the mail and threw them away because I didn’t want the headache of having my own salon, even though I had always wanted my own.
But the cons of owning your own salon is what always kept me from doing it because I was always seeing the constant struggles you had to go through as an owner and I didn’t want to deal with all that.
But then I saw the Sola space and learned that all the cons are done away with, and all that was left were all the positives that I did want. I only had to worry about the stuff I wanted to do.
By going this route, it has also given me the opportunity to show my daughter just how a salon should run. From the cleanliness to the ins and outs, it is all done in a more positive way.
Lauren: And our clients can also tell a difference in the two years of us being open. Comparing our salon to the salon they used to go to, they even feel a difference and they are happier at Sola than at the other environment we were in.
What would you say is one of the biggest obstacles you had to overcome when opening your space?
Tammy: I would have to say the décor. Trying to figure out what kind of vibe we wanted to have, but it wasn’t that hard. It actually all came together quite fast.
Tammy, you mentioned that your Sola is your haven, and by the looks of it, the salon is very warm and inviting. What stores did you visit for all the accent furniture and pieces?
Tammy: We did a lot of shopping before I even signed my Sola papers! [Laughs] It was mainly because I was just so inspired and I wanted to go and get ideas! We loaded up the car with a lot of furniture and accessories from HomeGoods and Pier 1.
Lauren: We like to use little pops of the color red throughout the salon, and we have a lot of gems. These are items that represent my mom and I and our personalities. There’s a little block that says, “You are my sunshine,” and that’s our quote to each other, and we also use the “&” sign as well.
Tammy: When we expanded our space, that’s when we got the “&” sign because it was like Rouge Part II. And like Lauren said, we have those little pops of rouge throughout, like these little cherries that came from Italy when I went last spring. Little pops of red help us keep that “rouge-y” feel throughout the whole salon.
As far as the glass shelves that all our retail products sit on, we actually got those through Sola. That’s another great thing—they offer you [in addition to the cabinets] any extra shelving you may want or any drawer organization and dividers you may need. It’s great because I’m a very OCD organizer and I like having everything in its place.
Can you tell us a little bit more about that framed picture on the wall, right above that cute red chair you got from Pier 1? It says something about being “the best.”
Tammy: Every year in Chattanooga, the community votes for the best businesses, and in our first year of us being open, out of the 320 salons in Chattanooga, we were nominated and voted to be in the top three which is amazing because we are just two people in the salon. To have our clients and the city vote for us, it is just so amazing.
Can you tell us the significance of the number 22 in your salon’s name?
Tammy: 22 is my birthday, my anniversary number and also my softball number. And another thing, Lauren was 22 years old when we moved into our Sola. I also have a random backstory I want to share with you. Right after I signed my papers with Sola, I went to Atlanta for the weekend with my husband. We’re there, walking around Centennial Park, and I looked down and there we were, surrounded by four different “22” concrete tiles on the ground. It was a sign! And just last week, Lauren and I were in the salon and we were cleaning up. I looked down and there was this tiny little orange sticker from something and that even had the number 22 on it.
That number is quite significant to you Tammy, but what about you Lauren? Does 22 show up a lot in your life or in your day-to-day?
Lauren: Like my mom said, when we opened the salon I was 22 years old. One thing that did happen is when I first started dating my fiancé, he competed in a 50-mile race. He didn’t get to choose his number, and the number he was given was…22. It’s actually quite hilarious how this number keeps coming up in our lives!
Want to know something interesting about the number 22? The numerology and spiritual meanings behind the number 22 are all about balance and precision. 22 also has the power to turn ambitions and dreams into a reality. It is the most successful of all numbers.
Tammy: I’m always saying life is just a constant struggle for balance and that is what I strive for! That is so odd! Hearing this is like confirmation and more validation for me.
Can you two share how you’ve split the roles and responsibilities in your salon?
Tammy: We always say that “It takes teamwork to make the dream work,” but typically I handle all the finances and business stuff. When it comes to the products, the selling, the clients—we work together. I do love handling all the business side of things though!
Lauren: We help each other out constantly, from sweeping up to helping with the other’s clients, taking out the trash. I will say this, she is the mopper! She SURE likes to mop [laughs], but I like to wipe down shelves and stuff like that. And we’re always helping and pushing each other to try new things.
Would you say that both of you are working in tandem to help build the Rouge22 brand? Are you both out networking, attracting new clients, etc.?
Tammy/Lauren: [In unison] Ohhhhhh absolutely!
Lauren: We also stay on each other when it comes to Instagram and social media. She’s always saying to me, “Hey, check your comments” and I’ll say, “Hey, make sure you’re tagging!”
Tammy: I do, and I like to put a combination of both of our work on the salon’s Instagram. From creative color to natural color, men’s, product advertising, I like to try and keep it all balanced. And that’s also on the salon’s Facebook page as well.
Tammy, you’ve been a great mentor to your daughter—what are some of the things you’ve instilled in her to help her grow since she has only been in the industry for a short amount of time.
Tammy: I’ve stressed the importance of consultations, asking the right questions before you get started, keeping things consistent, and also keeping the environment of the salon the same for each person that comes in whether it’s the first one of the day or the last.
Let’s talk about how you conduct consultations in your salon because that’s one of the most important and imperative processes in the salon.
Tammy: I actually don’t touch the client’s hair when they sit down. I do this because I want to see them touch their own hair when they tell me or show me why they are there. I don’t want to touch it and influence them with what they are about to say. I like to ask them what their expectations are and what can I do for them today. Where are you expecting to go with your color? Where are you expecting to go with your cut? Do you have any inspiration pics?
Lauren: When it comes to my clients, I like to know their hair history because most of my clients tend to be younger and they are ALWAYS doing things to their own hair. I always want to know exactly what was done previously before we start jumping in. I also like to do what my mom said about not touching their hair and letting them move it and toss or flip it around while they share their hair dreams and goals.
Lauren, since you are doing a lot of creative color in your salon, how do you go about helping your clients keep those realistic hair dreams and goals?
Lauren: I am definitely the honest stylist. I am going to tell you what you don’t want to hear, but it's what you NEED to hear. If someone sits down in my chair that needs help and it’s going to take a year to reach that hair goal, then I’m going to tell him or her just that. I don’t promise anything—I just deliver. I tell them their hair is here, and I let them know what they need to use to get them there... to the hair goal!
Tammy: One of my sayings that I use is, “I like to underpromise and over-deliver.” I feel like it’s better to take you as far as I can. I don’t want to promise them the moon and not be able to get them there.
Lauren, what are you teaching your mother on a day-to-day basis?
Lauren: I like to remind her that it is all about the client. It’s really easy to get comfortable with the clients you’ve had for a long time. She has a lot of clients who have been with her for almost 10 years. I believe it is important to keep it fresh and let them know they can change it up a little bit. Maybe not give someone the same thing twice, unless of course, they request it.
Tammy: A lot of clients do get in a rut, and they often ask for the same as last time. But it’s important for me to say and tell them, “It’s never going to be the same ol’ same ol’. It’s going to be a little fresher each time.” Even if the client is getting the same brown hair color she got last time, I’m going to make it a little bit more special this time.
Lauren: I’m also keeping her up on how to use social media.
Tammy: Yeah, she’s also always showing me new apps we can use in the salon!
One of the challenges that can sometimes present itself when you are so close and “familial” with your clients is there is more talk about each other’s lives and less talk being done on product knowledge, aftercare, and styling.
How do you balance that type of conversation going on so your clients do leave your salon equipped with the knowledge to keep their style, cut, and color still looking great after they leave?
Lauren: Honestly, and maybe it's because we go to hair shows and Sola Sessions throughout the year, we’re able to remind ourselves of those important things and we’re always excited to come to our studio and educate our clients on hair color, hair techniques, and products. I think that’s really why our clients like coming to us because we are staying so educated and they want to learn what we are learning.
Tammy: We also like to keep it fresh with bringing in new products and creating an experience for the client. If Lauren is working on a client and uses a new product then I’ll make a comment about it and get the conversation going. We do a lot of that back and forth in the salon. We like to keep it fun and play off each other. I also think that our clients feel like they are more than just clients in our salon and that they are part of something bigger.
Being that the salon is your “2nd home,” what are some ways you’re going about making your clients not only feel at home in your space but part of your “family.” What are some additional customer service tips and strategies?
Lauren: We like to tell our clients that our salon is a safe place for them. That it is a happy place for them to be. A lot of times, clients come in and they are stressed, they just got off of work, they’ve been sitting in traffic. We let them know this is their time in the salon. Like my mom says, it is a haven. Letting the clients know that we are there for them and we are there to help them feel really good about themselves.
Lauren, you mentioned Sola Sessions. There are a lot of Sola stylists out there who have not attended a Sola Session yet. Why do you think that is?
Tammy: It actually makes absolutely no sense to me why people don’t attend!
Lauren: There is this complacency in stylists who have been doing hair for over 20 years who are sometimes afraid to get out there and learn or try something new. Maybe it’s because they are afraid they are not going to be able to grasp it or that their demographic of clients are not going to want it. And then we have the younger stylists who either want to spend their money on something else. What all these people are missing out on is the exclusivity of Sola Sessions. They think they are not going to get as much out of it as they would by attending a big show like Premiere Orlando. But in fact, it is the complete opposite. It is more intimate than a big show and more close-knit.
Tammy: I also feel like they don’t realize the amount of networking and marketing information that gets shared that can help them grow their business, in addition to the skills that get taught as well.
Lauren: And you can walk out in the hall after you have watched a stylist or a presenter, and you have the chance to be able to walk up to them and ask them questions about what they have just shown or presented to you. At hair shows, you cannot find the stylist afterward even if you tried! At a Sola Session, you are able to get your questions answered right there.
Let me ask you both—who has been the most inspirational person you’ve seen present at a Sola Session?
Lauren: Ooooh that’s hard because at Sola Sessions they provide color and cutting experts and social media, marketing, and inspirational presenters. I would have to say the Hattori Hanzo Shears. They showed long and short haircuts and fades you could take back to your studio the next day. I would also have to say, Nina Kovner because she inspires with humor that is relatable and she helps you get back on track. As for color, it would be Leah Freeman from L’ANZA because she showed quick techniques for all types of color like balayage and permanent color. Oh, and of course Sam Villa. All of his tips and tricks. He is pretty amazing! The fact that Sola can get big names and new names and all sorts of brands and types of education in one day is amazing.
Tammy: Honestly, Lauren stole all my answers! [Both laugh] Nina Kovner from PassionSquared is just so inspirational and has so much business advice. It’s common sense or things you already know that you forget about, and she reminds you of those and also gives you things to consider. Like when she presented all the different ways you can actually lose a client. And I was really impressed with Leah—those quick tips are so important. And of course, all the marketing information presented from Sola’s Jennie Wolff! Oh and DJ Muldoon. He is a powerhouse haircutter.
This next question can be a bit touchy because we all want salon life to be sunshine and rainbows, right. The “mother/daughter” duo aspect has a nice ring to it, but as we know, conflict can arise at time. What are some of your conflict resolution strategies you’re using in the salon, and even outside the salon?
Lauren: The one issue that I have is the…music choice. That really is our only conflict in the salon! [both laugh]. I’ll be in a mood or she’ll be in a mood and we’ll want to listen to different things, but we compromise.
Tammy: Yeah, we do end up having to compromise on that and we have a go-to compromise station and that’s Madonna radio.
Lauren: [Laughs] Or Today’s Hits.
Tammy: When it comes to conflicts, we don’t bring anything to the salon. The minute we get there it is all professional, even if we have just had an argument at home over something like the toaster or the bathroom was a mess. We don’t talk about anything that happens at home. Sometimes we argue for a second and then move on, and sometimes we even just start laughing when we are arguing because we realizing it is just silly and not worth it.
Lauren: It’s great to have someone you can be yourself with when you’re angry about what happens at work or what happens outside of work.
Lauren, you said that your Sola lets you feel innovative. Can you explain why?
Lauren: It’s because I don’t feel like I have anything holding me back. I’m able to try new things and my clients are able to have new experiences with their hair. Having willing clients is always good, but I’m really able to put out that energy and have them trust and be really innovative with them. I feel innovative in my Sola because it’s my space and I’m not in a salon with 5-7 other stylists, looking over my shoulder, and I’m able to be myself and hair play and hair paint. And that’s why I feel innovative in my Sola. I have the means to do so in my own studio. I get to choose my products, my color lines, and all that jazz.
Let’s get a little sentimental for a moment. Tammy, you’re not only working in the salon on a day-to-day basis with Lauren, but you’re also her mother. Can you share what’s it been like to watch your daughter go from kid to teenager to apprentice to a licensed stylist working behind the chair?
Tammy: You never know what your child is going to grow up to be. Lauren also has a degree in teaching as well, but to have her come alive in my field and to do things and even surpass me in skills in this industry is really like a dream come true. It like I’m watching my dream turn into something even more within her.
It makes you proud.
It makes you so honored.
And we get to do it together.
It thrills me.
Lauren, tell us more about this teaching degree of yours. How are you incorporating what you learned to obtain this degree in your day-to-day at the salon with your clients because technically you are teaching them something while they are sitting in your chair, right?
Lauren: I actually got my bachelor's degree in elementary education last May and I definitely use it to educate my clients, and I think I do it with a bit more grace if you will. That has a lot to do with being taught how to teach others in a school environment and in a school system. I’m teaching them about their hair, products, even teaching them about confidence. I combine my classroom management skills with my salon management skills, and honestly, I’m using it every day.
Would like you to be an educator for a manufacturer one day?
Lauren: Yes, I’ve thought a lot about it and have talked to several stylists at the Sola Sessions on how they got into the education side of this industry. I feel like for my future that’s what I’d like to merge—working behind the chair and also educating for a color line one day. I like to be in front of people, I like performing, and especially the teaching aspect of it. That’s why I got my degree because I honestly couldn’t choose between the two—hair and teaching—so I learned how to merge them.
If you could pick a manufacturer to work for, who would it be? Who do you have your eye set on and why?
Lauren: Right now, it is Pulp Riot. They’re pretty rad because I love how they are incorporating multiple stylists to work for one brand.
The stylists are the ones who made the product.
The stylists are the ones promoting it.
The stylists are the ones creating with it.
I feel like they would be the ideal brand for me because they accept all types of stylists and they really promote creativity.
For those mother/daughter, father/son, mother/son, father/daughter duos out there who want to go into business with each other, what advice, tips, and strategies would you offer up and suggest to make their business as successful as yours?
Tammy: Remember, it’s not a competition. This is all about teamwork.
Lauren: You can’t force it, really. You’ll know before you go into business with each other if it is going to work. It should just flow. If your relationship has all the positive aspects a business needs, then you’ll be able to work together.
Tammy, during our video shoot, you said, “It takes teamwork to make the dream work.” Who came up with that?
Tammy: Honestly I don’t know!
Lauren: I think one day we said it in the salon.
Tammy: But I think we heard it somewhere. It’s really become one of our catchphrases we say in the salon.
Lauren: Usually a lot of silly stuff is said in the moment [laughs]. Like, “You vibe attracts your tribe!”
Tammy, you have two other kids currently enrolled in cosmetology school. What is next for the salon? What is on the Rouge22 horizon?
Tammy: Yes, my middle daughter Savannah is about ready to graduate in about six weeks, and then my son is in an apprenticeship program where he is going to do 750 hours in school and then come apprentice for me for the other 750 hours.
Well you’ve created quite the hair dynasty, haven’t you!
Tammy: Hair dynasty? Hmmm…I like that! That would be awesome, wouldn’t it? It would really be a dream come true. I would love to expand and grow bigger and even have my own product line. In our salon, we have a letter R with 22 on it, and that’s what I would love for my product line to be called, R22. That’s what is on my vision board.
We’ll see what happens. Maybe it will become a Rouge22 Dynasty.