Posted on December 29, 2020
Sola Salon Studios
At the end of 2019, as the Sola marketing team sat around our round, marble marketing table to brainstorm our 2020 New Years marketing campaign, we felt a contagious excitement for the magic and allure 2020 would bring. Our ideas included taglines like “Live Your Best Life” and “Dream Bigger.” On March 1st through 4th, we hosted the most incredible Faces of Sola Experience, gathering 22 outstanding Sola professionals in Denver for content creation, community strengthening, education-packed summit as we overflowed with excitement for what the future had in store for the Sola community. We were excited, optimistic and felt unstoppable.
Just a couple of days after the last piece of confetti was swept up and our Faces of Sola returned safely back home, the first jokes of running out of toilet paper and working from home started to feel a lot less funny. In a blur, Mondays turned into blursdays and our two-week work from home timeline turned into 10 months.
In addition to unprecedented, unfathomable and, at times, unbearable, 2020 has also been transformative. Even if we aren’t sure what the future will look like when we finally get safely to the other side of this pandemic, it’s safe to say that none of us will ever be the same again. Those who choose to lean into the challenges this year brought, the ones who choose to face your demons head-on and learn from them, will come out on the other side stronger, wiser and more prepared to conquer whatever else life throws your way.
At Sola, it’s our mission to help you grow, both personally and professionally, so you can live the life you love. So we couldn’t leave you without a round-up (and a round of applause) for all the collective learning we did this year.
Here’s our list of the top 20 things we learned in 2020:
1. Alone we are strong. Together we are #SolaStrong.
When the pandemic first hit, and we were all forced to shut our doors and stay at home, most of us felt completely alone. But once we realized, even if we aren’t physically with each other doesn’t mean we are alone, that’s when our community not only survived - we thrived. Together, we discovered what it meant to be a true #SolaFam and through it all, we hope you also learned that no matter what, Sola’s got your back.
2. Self-care isn’t a luxury. It’s a priority.
It’s no secret you’ve spent your life and career taking care of others, but we hope this year you learned that in order to take care of your family, clients and friends, you’ve got to first take care of numero uno. When the hustle and bustle of fulfilling others’ needs came to a sudden halt - when you physically couldn’t tend to those outside of your home - we were all forced to sit in stillness, turn inward and learn how to care for ourselves.
To help us learn how to practice self-care, you shared with us your best self-care tips and Amanda Fagan (2018 Faces of Sola) opened our eyes to the importance of self-care behind the chair and why it’s especially important during COVID-19.
3. How to keep ‘em coming back for more
This year certainly made us all reevaluate how we value relationships, especially between you and your clients. It was proven that you are, in fact, essential, not just for the services you provide and how you make your clients look - it’s about how you make them feel, with your hands and with your heart.
These helpful tips taught us ways to help increase client retention, even through a pandemic.
4. How to stay financially stable during financially unstable times
At the first signs of salon closures, we knew we had to arm our community with strategies and resources for a potentially unprecedented event. Thanks to financial experts like Michael Cole, who shared game-changing financial resources and strategies, we were able to put together a roadmap to level up your financial acumen, including a guide to help you navigate financial uncertainty and tips to create financial stability.
As the end of the year came upon us, we even learned a few extra tips to help get an end-of-year financial boost.
5. Your Mental Health Matters
With all the focus on our physical health this year, we learned it is just as important to take care of your mental health. To help us navigate the emotional turmoil this year brought, we turned to experts like psychologist Dr. Allan Ribbler on the Sola Stories Podcast, Nina Kovner who hosted a mental-health webinar (which we recapped on the Sola blog) and Michael Cole, who looked out for both our emotional and financial wellness on a webinar (also recapped in this blog).
6. “Pivot. Pivot. Pivot.” - Ross Gellar
If there’s one thing we all got really good at (other than baking banana bread), it’s how to pivot; and hopefully, you learned how to do it intentionally. Industry expert Gordon Miller shared some powerful insights about evolving and adapting to stay successful in the beauty industry on the Sola Stories Podcast. We also learned from entrepreneurial expert and female business coach Alexa Carlin who taught us how to pivot with purpose.
7. Why it’s great to be at Sola (especially this year)
We’ve always known Sola provides the opportunity for our beauty professionals to live a life they love, but especially this year we found extra comfort in what we are able to offer through our private one-on-one studio environment. We heard from so many members of our community, and the greater beauty industry, why it’s especially great to be in a salon suite right now. We were able to provide a fresh start to people like Annie Hayes, who went from being furloughed to a Sola salon owner, which she says was a dream she may have never had made happen if it wasn’t for the COVID-19 pandemic.
8. How to transition to a salon studio
While we never want to see any salons close or beauty professionals displaced, for those who did find themselves looking for a new salon home, we were able to welcome over 6,000 new Sola professionals to the Sola family!
For all you Sola newbies, after you signed your lease and said, “Now what?”, we put together this “Advice for Sola Newbies” guide to walk you through everything a new Sola owner needs to know to get started on your journey. For those who were still on the fence, our expert Faces of Sola taught you exactly how to transition to a salon studio and why they were so happy to have made the move to Sola. We also heard from this crew of Sola bosses who shared how to make it as an independent salon owner on the Sola Stories Podcast. And for those of you who opened your new salon after the COVID-19 pandemic had already hit, we shared these best practices to open your new studio #SolaStrong.
9. We discovered the power of hope.
Whether your heart weighed heavier over our health, racial injustice or economic crisis, the one thing we can count on to carry us through it all is hope. Our beloved Polly Sanders-Peterson (2018 Faces of Sola) joined us on the Sola Stories podcast to educate and inspire us on diversity, self-love and the power of hope.
10. How to get back to business
In the early stages of the pandemic, at the height of uncertainty, 2020 Faces of Sola Steven Wren joined us for one of our very first Sola Stories Podcast episodes where he reassured us that the comeback will be far greater than the setback and told us what he was doing to set himself up for success upon reopening his Chicago barbershop.
We were ecstatic when we got the green light to start reopening our salons, so to help set you up for success, we put together this guide to walk you through reopening your salon #SolaStrong. Shortly after reopening, we heard from 2020 Faces of Sola Katie Oakes who shared how she was adjusting to a new normal after being one of the first stylists to reopen her Savannah-based salon.
11. How to lead with heart
In the face of uncertainty, it’s natural to look to our leaders for answers. But what happens when our leaders are in the dark just as much as we are? That’s when we learned to stop thinking from our heads and start leading with our hearts.
During this year’s darkest moments, we were so grateful to have such strong, brilliant leadership to remind us that even if we feel alone, we are in this together. Sola’s CEO, Christina Russell, joined us on the Sola Stories Podcast to share how she used her heart to guide the Sola community through COVID-19. We were also reminded by Terri Cowan that no matter how good your skills are behind the chair, it’s your heart that takes your art from good to great.
12. A lack of boundaries does not equal excellent customer service.
This year we all learned a lot about setting boundaries - both in and out of the salon. Checking in with your comfort level was important for the most routine activities, let alone how you were going to run your business. Business coach and boundaries expert Dawn Bradley taught us how to set boundaries in your business and why they are pivotal to avoid burnout.
And speaking of burnout, raise your hand if you found yourself completely burnt out by the “C” word this year? ✋ These tips to redirect the COVID conversation when you reached your COVID limit certainly came in handy for all of us.
13. Parents are superheroes.
Being a parent can present challenges at any time, but especially while trying to balance parenthood and a pandemic. Whether you became a first-time working parent this year or found yourself as a first-time teacher when back-to-school time rolled around, we looked to our expert Sola Moms and Dads to help all our Sola parents balance work and parenthood like a boss.
14. How to have tough conversations
No one likes those awkward client conversations, and other years it was likely much-easier to brush things under the rug, but 2020 made us all stare difficult convos in the face and hopefully now there’s no topic too tough to tackle. Whether you had to communicate new procedures after reopening, raise your prices, or let your clients know you may have contracted the virus, we helped you navigate those tricky conversations effectively and professionally.
And when your clients’ demands got out of hand, we learned how to deal with those especially difficult clients.
15. How to make productive use of downtime
When our salons were forced to close, you reminded us that didn’t mean your dreams had to shut down too. You got creative to make productive use of downtime and we hosted a webinar to help you work on your business, even when you couldn’t work in it. Experts like Sam Villa and Andrew Carruthers taught us how to stay connected with your clients when you weren’t behind the chair and social media expert Daniel Mason-Jones taught us how to get comfortable in front of the camera hosting a Facebook or Instagram Live to keep virtual connection going until you could get back into the salon.
16. We are #SaferAtSola.
At Sola, we learned that you and your clients don't have to sacrifice safety to be in the salon. In partnership with Barbicide we learned sanitation best practices to help keep you, your clients and your Sola family safe. Kim Bennett also taught us how she was staying #SaferAtSola when she reopened her salon. And in addition to all the effort and procedures you had in place, our one-on-one studio environments made it even easier to stay #SaferAtSola so we can all feel great going to the salon.
17. How to take social media to the next level
It’s no secret that social media took on a whole new meaning this year. When our in-person connection came to a halt, our virtual connection became more important than ever. Maybe you discovered how to be a content queen or find your social media sweet spot. On a webinar we hosted, some of our Faces of Sola social media rockstars talked about how to pivot content during COVID. They even shared these 6 tips to up-level your social game, whether you’re living through a pandemic or not.
18. Balance is key.
Staying balanced amongst chaos isn’t for the light of heart. It takes faith and courage to find light amongst darkness and hope amongst fear. It’s safe to say we all felt the rug pulled out from under us at some point (or many points) this year. So, we were grateful to learn from some of our most well-balanced Faces of Sola like Kelsey Morris who taught us how to balance it all like a #MomBoss and Roxanne Muir who taught us how she stays balanced in and out of the salon.
19. How to pay your rent in retail
When you couldn’t work behind the chair, you tapped into the power of retail to keep revenue flowing with tips like this to help you retail #SolaStrong. We also learned some quick tips to pay your rent in retail on the Sola Stories Podcast and these retail strategies for COVID-19 from our friends at Bioelements.
20. And last but certainly not least, we learned that our #SolaFam truly rocks!