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Amanda Mathis – founder of Salon Mathis at Sola Salons The Woodlands – turned 35 earlier this month. “I haven’t even climbed Mount Everest yet,” she says. No matter: We think this particular Waller, Texas native has accomplished a lot in a few short decades!

After high school, Amanda spent eight years in the oil and gas industry, working as an assistant project manager for a fabrication company. Even as her career blossomed, Amanda couldn’t kick her true passion.

“My childhood dream was to be a hairstylist,” she admits. Growing up, though, Amanda was told to “go for the money,” she says. That’s exactly what she did. But she says, “Being a hair stylist was always in the back of my mind.”

When her first daughter was born, Amanda resigned from her job — and that’s when her husband insisted she enroll in beauty school. “The rest is history,” Amanda says, adding, “I look back now and wish I’d started it right after high school.”  

Amanda graduated from Legacy Beauty Academy in 2009, and began working for one of her instructors; a year later -- when her boss and mentor got sick -- Amanda took over the salon, and ran it until she launched Salon Mathis in 2010.

“I rented a booth, and began building my clientele,” Amanda recalls. While she liked the autonomy that came with being a small business owner, Amanda soon discovered there were downsides to the booth rental structure. 

“I didn’t get to design my own suite; I didn’t have any of the amenities Sola provides, or the marketing power,” says Amanda, adding, “I was doing everything on my own. It was a headache.”

Two years ago, Amanda moved her growing business to Sola Salon Studios, where she says she’s had the opportunity to, “Really build my brand and my salon, without feeling worried or stressed.”

Building a recognizable brand meant joining forces not just with Sola, but with Keratin Complex, too, to become an exclusive Keratin Complex salon. Like Sola, Keratin Complex makes Amanda’s job a little bit simpler: “Their products fit every hair type; I don’t have to carry six different lines,” she explains. Plus, Amanda adds, “I’ve seen serious transformations in clients switching to Keratin Complex.”

That explains why Keratin Complex products sell like hotcakes on Amanda’s shelves. Last year, Amanda was the #1 Keratin Complex Signature Salon in Texas, selling more products than any other area stylist!

This year, Amanda took her affiliation a step further, and flew to Florida and became a brand ambassador for the company. “Now I can educate other stylists on their product line, and I’m certified to educate my clients, too,” Amanda says, noting, “I’d rather educate my clients than try to sell them something.”

Education hardly stops with her clients; the more Amanda can learn, the better. From YouTube videos to training sessions, Amanda takes continuing education seriously, giving herself another leg up in a crowded industry.

During her tenure in the industry, Amanda’s racked up a few more distinctions: In addition to being a signature Keratin Complex salon, she’s also a master colorist, a master cutter — and she’s Keratin Complex treatment certified, too. “Anything that has to do with your hair, I do it,” Amanda says.

Amanda’s biggest trade secret lies in her customer care model. At Salon Mathis, clients are never “just another number,” as Amanda puts it. “I want everyone who walks through my door to feel like a friend, like family,” she says.

To that end, Amanda takes pride in doing “the little things that make it feel personal,” she says. Sending out birthday cards, for example, and weekly newsletters to keep guests abreast of salon happenings. Salon Mathis clients are so loyal that some continue to book with Amanda even after moving outside the state.

Amanda’s caring, hands-on approach -- coupled with her business instinct -- has led to a salon that’s booming right through the stylist’s front door.

When Amanda signed with Sola, she took a double suite from the get-go. In September, she gutted her salon and made the space homier, with fresh paint, wallpaper, a minimalist cabinet scheme and an updated layout. Now, Amanda’s in the process of purchasing a second suite, where she’ll employ up to four stylists.

“My schedule is jam-packed,” Amanda explains, adding, “I have clients who book a year in advance.” Amanda hates turning away business — and that’s prompted her to expand. “The new double room should be ready in a month; we’ll completely gut it, and do a mimic of what my room is now,” she says.  

From oil and gas to hair, Amanda’s taken more than a few bold career steps. After putting off her dream for almost a decade to “go for the money,” Amanda’s finding that what they say is true: Do what you love, and the money will follow.

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