With five salons and growing, Design 1 Salon Spa in Grand Rapids, Michigan, maintains a steady stream of new stylists. As part of the onboarding process, new team members are paired with mentors—seasoned Design 1 stylists who train them on the salon’s systems and signature techniques.
While the new stylists are serving as assistants, though, it can be a struggle for a busy stylist to find time to give them instruction on the styling and finishing techniques that are the salon’s signature and what their clients expect, says Anna Walt, a master stylist at Design 1 and the owners’ daughter-in-law.
“Honestly my clients can be a little tough on an assistant—they don’t mind if I have a helping hand, but they expect their blowout and curls the same way as if I were doing them,” she says.
As an educator for Sunlights Balayage team, Walt’s had a front row seat observing how today’s companies are using video to engage social networks and educate stylists, and she started thinking about how video could help make Design 1 education more consistent.
“As a salon grows and adds more locations, education can get diluted,” Walt says. “Each of our locations has a group of assistants who work with mentors, but the mentors use different lingo and style hair slightly differently. Although we don’t want to turn out cookie cutter stylists and we do want individuals to develop their own flair, we also want each of our locations to deliver the same, consistent, high-quality service.”
Walt recently took on the task of revamping Design 1’s education manual, and she decided to develop step-by-step videos that would jump-start an assistant’s education by showing them the way the salon conducts its shampoo service, its signature blow dry, as well as the techniques on curling and finishing the hair.
“Each video takes the viewer through the process step by step, with text overlay outlining key points,” she says. “For each, we’ve developed companion handouts. For example, for the blow dry tutorial, the handout describes the different hair types and which brush to choose for each type.”
There are even videos that show assistants how to gather tickets and set up their mentor’s day, as well as one on proper color mixing guidelines that help reduce waste.
As a stylist and a mentor, Walt says the videos help to maintain standards with clients across all locations.
The salon’s mentors play a role in the video education as well. The videos are organized into tiers, and the assistants are assigned specific videos to watch for each tier. Mentors have a checklist and are responsible for making sure their assistants have watched the assigned videos and check them off when completed.
As a Redken salon, Design 1 also can access a library of instructional videos on different cutting and coloring techniques. Once assistants have worked through the specific Design 1 videos, they are assigned Redken videos to watch.
Although the videos are a great tool with new team members, Walt admits they should only represent a part of a stylist’s education.
“We have an education facility in our headquarters, and the salon is great about bringing in educators and hosting live sessions, and those are really important,” she says. “But the videos help fill in the gaps, get everyone at the same level quickly, and they’re always handy if an assistant wants to go back and review something.”
When it comes to video production, Walt keeps it simple. She works with Kenzie Welch, a Design 1 stylist who maintains the salon’s social media. They typically film the videos using an iPhone or iPad Pro, although Welch recently purchased a new camera. The duo also use a stabilizer to keep the video steady and picked up an inexpensive photography kit, which includes three different lights and a backdrop.
“We learned how to edit the videos by watching online videos, and we’ve used Videoshop, iMovie and Splice apps,” Walt says. “We have a bridal photoshoot coming up, and we’re planning a tutorial video of each look featuring different stylists. We are bringing in a professional video editor for that one.”
For Walt, her current video library is just the tip of the iceberg. She has plans for videos that walk assistants through the retail process, show them how to teach clients to blow dry their own hair, how to know when to balayage and when to use foils, and how to do a color correction consultation.
For Design 1, the videos have proven a vital tool to getting assistants up to speed and maintaining a consistent level of service across locations—all while delivering on client expectation.