Posted on August 12, 2015
Being a hairstylist certainly wasn’t Rona Bunch’s childhood dream. She didn’t like to play with friends’ hair; she didn’t even consider herself a creative person.
“I’d never done hair before in my life,” admits Rona, who passed up a full-ride singing scholarship at a traditional, four-year college when she realized music wasn’t her passion.
“My parents told me that if I wanted to have a big wedding, then I had to have some form of college education,” Rona recalls. “I decided to go to beauty school because I thought it would be quick and easy.”
Boy was she wrong! “After my first day of beauty school,” Rona says, “I was like, ‘What did I sign myself up for?’”
Determined, Rona worked her butt off by “memorizing the method,” as she puts it. That work paid off, because somehow, “Beauty has ended up being the best career choice I could have made,” Rona says.
One big reason hair is a good fit for Rona is that, “Opportunities are endless in the industry,” she says.
After finishing school, Rona went to a salon — but she took a different path than many of her fellow beauty school graduates.
“Instead of building clients by working out of the chair, I went to corporate salons and managed stores,” Rona explains.
From being a working manager at the Hair Cuttery Salons, Rona went to Regis Corporation, where she landed a district manager title after having the highest sales increase in a single year. Rona stopped cutting hair, and, for about three-and-a-half years, managed a dozen salons.
“It allowed me to learn all aspects of the business,” Rona says. Eventually, though, she was ready to leave Orlando and head home to Jacksonville, Florida.
“At that point,” says Rona, “I’d been in the industry for 12 years, and I wanted to take everything I had learned on the business side and implement it for myself. I wanted to create a clientele and build a business, versus running a business for somebody else.”
In 2003, Rona finally found herself back behind the chair. But, a year later she was feeling restless.
“I always have to have my hands in something,” Rona explains. This time, that something was education.
Rona became a network educator for Bumble and bumble, and over the next six years she received tons of training at the House of Bumble in New York; she brought her knowledge back to Florida, teaching classes for new stylists and apprentices in the salon where she worked as a commissioned employee.
As a salon and network educator, Rona was one of the top ten for Bumble and bumble in the nation; she’s continued to thrive since transitioning over to KMS California.
Things were going just fine, and then the salon where Rona worked went under. “I decided I’d never work for somebody else again,” says Rona.
Fair enough: Rona already had extensive industry knowledge — her education was off the charts, she had experience working with customers and she knew the business inside and out from her days in corporate.
In May of 2014, Rona started looking for her own salon. Her father had been diagnosed with cancer, and he was “really supportive,” Rona remembers. He was even helping her look for a place to purchase.
“And then my dad got really sick, and he passed away in July,” says Rona. That put everything on hold. “I was in no place to make a move,” Rona admits. That August, though, she happened to be on the other side of town shopping with her mom when she noticed “a big area that was blown wide open.”
Rona’s interest was piqued. When she saw a sign that read “Sola Salons”, Rona couldn’t help herself: she Googled the name, and called up property manager, Miller Edwards. He called back, but Rona didn’t return the call.
“In October I felt like it was time to make a change, so I finally called Miller again,” says Rona. She set up an appointment and dragged along two of her girlfriends.
“As soon as I walked through the door, I wanted to know where to sign,” Rona remembers. The whole thing felt even more predestined when Rona told her mom about Sola and realized her mom and dad had actually talked about it before he had passed.
Since coming over to Sola and opening her salon, BAB & Rojo, Rona has brought over four more stylists, including those two friends who joined in on the initial meeting with Miller.
“I love it at Sola,” Rona says. It’s a sentiment her friends obviously share, too.
Rona knew hair would be a good fit for her because, from the get-go, there were always so many opportunities for growth. And at Sola, those opportunities keep coming.
Rona, for example, started her tenure at Sola in a large suite. When she needed more space, Miller was happy to work with Rona and another stylist to ultimately tear down the wall between their two suites, creating a giant, welcoming space.
“It’s like one big room with a really nice salon feel,” Rona says, adding, “I love the fact that even though we are individual businesses, it’s still like we’re a family — a family without all of the drama,” Rona clarifies.
For more information about Rona Bunch, click here.
For more information about Sola Salon Studios in Jacksonville, FL, click here.