Jenna Bowden was placing so many orders with one hair extensions brand that the company started calling her the “Hair Extension Queen.” Deciding to own that moniker with pride, Bowden used it for social media posting and, when she opened her Colorado Springs salon in 2017, named it Crown Extension Studio.
“I knew ‘extension’ had to be in our name,” Bowden says. “When people are searching online for hair extensions, they’ll want to go to someone who specializes in hair extension services.” Even with the specialty in the name, Bowden hadn’t made a full commitment; the salon offered all services. But with the team’s education and energy going primarily to hair extensions, those other services were getting short shrift and, even when done well, brought in neither the enthusiasm nor the hourly money that hair extensions did.
Tough Decision to Limit Services
When Bowden made the decision to limit services to extensions and hair color necessary to support the extensions services, the timing was right. It was the spring of 2021, and Bowden says the “Covid Shuffle” had cut into her staff numbers until she and one other stylist were the only ones left.
“Making the decision to go extensions-only was scary, but it made sense,” she notes. Since she needed to hire more staff anyway, now she could find stylists who were passionate about extensions and happy to be doing the service all the time. Within two months, she’d hired three stylists, and she trained them all at once.
“I sent a heartfelt email telling clients about our exciting change, and they were understanding,” Bowden says. “Most of them saw it coming.”
Bowden wanted to put one more piece in place to really making this work. She promoted an extensions membership program she’d already created to charge a flat monthly payment giving extension clients regular maintenance every eight weeks and new hair every six months.
“The membership plan has been working wonderfully for us,” Bowden reports. “It’s popular with our guests, and we like the predictability. Since they’re paying to come in every eight weeks, they don’t stretch out those appointments. Our work always look good!”
While super-long hair goes in and out of style, fullness in hair is something women continue to request, Bowden says.
“For us, hair extensions are for every woman,” she notes. “Our messaging is rarely about length. We focus on women who are working and just want to look the way they used to with fullness in their hair. It’s the same as anti-aging products—always something women want.”
Clients experience hair thinning for various reasons, she explains, adding, “We get women with thyroid, stress, and hormonal conditions. All of that causes hair loss. What are the options for someone with fine, thinning hair? They have to get a pixie cut or a bob? Hair extensions give women the confidence in their hair they used to have when they were younger. We’ve seen women come in looking one way, and it’s a whole different person leaving. Sometimes they cry.”
Building the Numbers
By the time 2021 came to a close, Crown Extension Studio had grown 50%. Bowden was able to step away from working behind the chair, concentrating on marketing and management instead. Another major was change was becoming a gratuity-free salon.
Comparing the first half of 2021 with the second half, Bowden calculates her before-and-after financial picture:
- Revenue grew 26%, from $231K in the first six months to $292K in the second six months. “This was despite rebuilding a team entirely from scratch and retiring myself from behind the chair,” Bowden says.
- The number of returning guests doubled from 231 returning guests to 483.
- Bowden was able to increase payroll by 76%, she says, “to provide a better life to my ‘extensionistas’ and assist in recruitment and retention. I am able to do this comfortably while keeping my payroll cost at a healthy 35%. My stylists are paid a salary between $53,000 and $65,000 and receive paid vacation and holidays. This is even after we stopped accepting tips. We are a team-based-pay salon.”
- Extension membership revenue increased by 51%, from $53K to $81K. The average member pays $330/month.
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