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Stylist Willow Bradner initially saw Sola Salon Studios as a one-year stepping stone on her path to opening her own traditional-model salon. But six years later, Willow’s Boutique Salon is a successful business in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood’s Sola Salon Studios.

Willow Bradner is not just a hairstylist. She is a hair therapist and an entrepreneur at Sola Salon Studios in Denver. “It’s not just about the hair, but also about the person sitting in my chair,” says the 36-year-old mother of 1-year-old Zoe. “My passion goes beyond doing hair.” And because her passion is in having that one-on-one time with her “guests” while getting them to look good with a new haircut, hair extensions or new hair color, Willow finds that Sola Salon Studios is the absolute perfect fit for her. “I could open a salon and manage people, but that’s not where my passion is,” she explains. But in fact, that is the direction she was heading in after seven years as a hairstylist.

Been There, Done That

Prior to moving to Sola, Willow was not happy with her situation. She was working for a hip, happening salon filled with not very nice women. “It was hard to find commercial property in my price range, and people kept telling me to check out Sola instead. I told them, ‘I don’t want to work in a pod!’” Despite her misgivings about Sola, Willow checked it out, and found her ideal business model. “Sola took the fear out of starting my business,” she says. Still, she admits that she initially saw Sola as just a temporary setup and signed a one-year lease …. six years ago. “I was very strict with myself that I wouldn’t be here longer than one year,” she says, looking back with a hearty laugh. What changed her mind about Sola? “It’s an opportunity to grow your business without all the extraneous things that get in the way of doing your job,” she remarks. “For me, Sola is the opportunity to be an entrepreneur with an umbrella over that.”

Now We’re Talking!

Willow’s favorite part of her business with Sola Salon Studios has turned out to be — ironically — the privacy of her “pod,” as she once called it. “I can shut the door and have that intimacy, if you will — that privacy with my guests that I wouldn’t have in a bigger salon.” Her furniture-maker husband decorated the suite with reclaimed wood, and this gives her business another personal touch. And the delight Willow takes in talking to people pays off when marketing her salon. “I will go business to business with gift certificates sometimes,” she says, describing a few of her guerrilla marketing tactics. “This business is not for the faint of heart or people waiting for walk-ins.”

To learn more about Willow, visit www.willowhairtherapist.com.

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