Posted on May 10, 2017
“My aunt is a hairstylist, and I always looked up to her,” says Julie Cooper, founder of Hair by Julie Cooper. Julie, though, wasn’t interested in doing hair. “I wanted to be a therapist,” she recalls.
At a career fair, though, an adviser filled Julie in on a secret: “A hairstylist is basically a therapist,” as Julie puts it. “So I went with that,” says Julie, adding, “I love making people feel beautiful inside and out.”
In 2004, Julie graduated from a beauty school near her hometown in Indiana and snagged a job at an Intercoiffure salon. Intercoiffure is an influential hair dressing organization that reserves its memberships for leading hair salons worldwide. Salons within the Intercoiffure network, then, are known for their professionalism and fashion-oriented approach to hair. And Julie gleaned these elements – and more – during her two-year tenure at an Intercoiffure salon in Greenwood, Indiana.
“Then I moved to Jacksonville,” Julie says, continuing with her story. “I wanted to find that same top-of-the-line environment in Florida,” she adds. But the salons Julie encountered didn’t quite cut it. When Julie couldn’t find what she was looking for, she decided she’d have to make it instead.
A decade into her career, near the end of 2014, Julie discovered Sola Salons in Atlantic Beach. She was immediately impressed by Sola’s posh suites, which had that hint of luxury she’d been looking for.
Julie signed a lease and opened her salon in July. “I was in a standard studio for two weeks, and then I realized I needed more space,” she says. She leased the studio next door, and “opened up an artificial double,” Julie says, noting. And her business has been booming ever since.
That’s because Julie was finally able to provide her clients with the upscale experience she’d grown accustomed to in Indiana. It’s no secret that Julie’s clients love her services. Some travel all the way from Tallahassee and South Georgia to see Julie, and her schedule’s so overbooked that she had to stop accepting new clients at her Sola studio. What’s more, Julie is our first featured stylist to be referred to us by a customer!
So what does it take to build a high-end, Intercoiffure-caliber salon? “Being a top salon is about building interpersonal relationships with clients,” Julie begins. At Sola, a private, intimate environment gives way to honest communication. “It’s crazy how much somebody will be willing to tell you,” Julie says.
This aspect of business stretches back to Julie’s original passion for therapy. Clients will text Julie before their appointments to let her know they’re excited for “Julie time,” Julie says, adding, “They get to talk about girl stuff or unload on me, and we work through any and all problems. It’s very satisfying, and it’s a two-way street,” Julie continues, admitting, “They help me out — a lot.”
Julie and her clients talk openly about their personal lives, and Julie knows most of her guests so well that she isn’t afraid to be candid about her opinions on hair. If a client wants something drastic, for example, Julie will veto the request and offer up an alternative suggestion. “I try to focus on what each individual client is looking for. I’m really good at communicating with my clients,” Julie says. “I’m also really good at educating my clients,” she adds.
In addition to her professional insight, Julie provides a few frills: good music, a great view of the beach, and wine. “They love the wine,” Julie says, noting that her studio is high-end, but never stiff. “It’s just comfortable,” she says. “And we’re at the beach, so it’s naturally laid-back.”
There’s one last bit to being a high-end professional: Education. Great stylists stay up-to-date on current trends so they can provide stellar services and advice. Sola helps Julie with that, too.
Julie frequents hair shows, goes to continuing education classes, and watches all of the webinars and videos from her favorite celebrity hairstylists. “I just started familiarizing myself with the Sola Pro app,” she adds.
Okay, Julie will admit it: There was one thing that gave her pause before coming to Sola. “I was afraid I’d be by myself in this little room with no one to talk to,” she says. But that hasn’t been the case. “In my spare time, I go watch other stylists and they watch me,” explains Julie, noting that, “Everyone in Sola is like-minded, and we are able to grow together.”