Posted on July 12, 2017
“It all starts with the ability to listen,” says Vicki King, owner of Be Beautiful at Sola Salons in Concord Centre – Springfield, VA. “The numbers will add up. The most important thing,” Vicki continues, “is the relationships you make.”
By the time Vicki launched Be Beautiful in 2014, she already had decades of experience under her belt. “I started when I was 14, and I’m 44 now,” she says.
Vicki’s early entrance into the industry owes to a middle school guidance counselor, who pushed Vicki toward trade school, as opposed to a traditional high school. “Hair wasn’t anything I planned or thought about. It was just something that always came naturally to me,” says Vicki.
When the stylist graduated from beauty school in 1991, she was hesitant to work at a salon. “I was nervous about the hair salon culture,” she explains, adding, “Back then, salons were really hectic, and I didn’t want to go just anywhere. I wanted to go someplace my mom or grandmother would feel welcomed.”
After a year of cutting hair out of her home, Vicki found herself in the right place at the right time. She was taking a refresher course at a beauty school when she met the owner of an up-and-coming salon. The two women clicked, and Vicki landed a job that changed her whole perspective on how a salon can and should be run.
Thinking back on her first boss, Vicki says, “Even though she wasn’t a stylist, she was able to custom-tailor the salon to us. It was similar to Sola.”
After thirteen years – thirteen! – Vicki left the commission-based salon where she’d started her career, and went solo, bouncing between booths. “I haven’t been in many salons, and I haven’t had many negative experiences,” Vicki admits, adding, “I’ve always worked in smaller, boutique settings.”
Vicki might have been content, but she still felt like something was missing. “Where I come from – in the city – we didn’t have anything like Sola,” she says, explaining, “Sola was made for stylists like me, who desire to have their own business without the frustration and overhead.”
At Sola, Vicki has more time to focus on her clients. And it’s the interpersonal relationships forged in an intimate setting that keep Vicki’s business booming.
Hair is how Vicki expresses herself artistically. But the artistry isn’t gleaned from cutting or coloring. “Actually,” says Vicki, “The art is in the relationships I forge with my clients.” Hence the name of Vicki’s salon – Be Beautiful – a nod to the idea that beauty comes from within. “As I grew with my craft, I realized beauty needed to come from the inside out,” Vicki elaborates.
“It’s been a blossoming process,” she continues. During her decades-long career, Vicki has learned that being a good listener is about being authentic. As she puts it, “You could be there and be talking to them, and they’re talking but you’re not really hearing them.”
“You have to learn how to listen,” Vicki continues, adding, “That can make or break the client experience.” Listening with a professional ear is how Vicki connects with her clients. “The biggest complaint I hear from my clients about other stylists is, ‘She didn’t do what I told her to do.’” Those stylists, Vicki says, weren’t listening!
Vicki isn’t above listening to other stylists, either — and that’s paid off in a big way. A few years ago, for example, another Sola stylist told Vicki that her business would explode if she marketed on Yelp.
“I’d always built my brand by word of mouth,” Vicki explains. “I’d never advertised.” Vicki followed her colleague’s advice, marketing on Yelp and creating a website. “I outgrew my first Sola studio in less than 8 months,” she recalls. It didn’t hurt, Vicki adds, to have the Sola brand on her side. Working in front of such a recognizable entity helped Vicki develop her personal brand.
When it comes to her craft, Vicki does a little bit of everything. “I’m well-versed in cutting, coloring, styling, and healthy hair,” she says, adding, “If there is ever something I don’t know, I’ll study up on it.”
But when you work for yourself, it can be a real challenge to find the time to stay current on trends. Between Sola Sessions and the Sola Pro app, Vicki says, “Sola makes it easy to stay up-to-date.” She's also using the SolaGenius (GlossGenius x Sola) app for all of her online bookings!
“Right now,” Vicki adds, “I feel like I’m at the top.” And that’s a pretty good place to be!