SALON TODAY RECOMMENDS: What to Know Before Opening a Salon

Elizabeth Jakaitis | July 7, 2016 | 11:00 AM

Launching a new salon business is no easy undertaking. Aveda Means Business reports on one young salon owner that has experienced firsthand the blood, sweat and tears that go into a new business.

Kate Moeves, owner of 501 Salon & Spa in Bellevue, Kentucky, says her initial plunge into salon ownership worked for one reason—she was willing to make it her life.

After a one-and-a-half year waiting period for opening to attend the Aveda Institute in Cincinnati, during which time she took business classes, and then building skills and clientele in salons for nearly 4 years, she was about as ready as she could be to open a new salon. And it still required complete dedication and years of hard work to build a team, steady clientele and master business logistics.

“People don’t know how much goes into it—I didn’t know,” Moeves says. “I feel like I literally eat, breathe and drink this place. I had no idea the sacrifice I would have to make in the short term. Unless you’re willing to make it your life for however many years it takes, don’t do it.”

Moeves was willing to make her salon her life and as a result 501 is thriving and she has opened a second location, called Industry.

“Write down six-month and five-year goals and hold yourself accountable,” she says. “Don’t give up when it gets scary—that’s when you’re about to succeed. How you deal with hard times is what will propel you forward to the good stuff, but you must be willing to make it your life.”

Read more about Moeves' strategies for opening and growing salon business in the Aveda Means Business article, "2 Salons. 5 Years. 100% Dedication."

What You Need to Know Before Opening a Salon

Aveda Means Business cites the voices of a range of salon owners to share the most important considerations to take into account before opening a salon. The two most important themes are budgeting and cultivating a team.

David Wagner, owner of Juut Salonspas, recommends a “might as well budget,” or a budget for all of the things that come up during constructing the salon and after. He said that a number of things have come and his contractor has told him that if they are put off until later, it will cost a lot more to fix then. “Add 25-30 percent to your budget for the ‘might as wells!’” Wagner says.

“Hire for heart, train for skill,” is one of the guiding principles of Atelier Salons, owned by Karie Bennett. She also points out three myths of salon ownership that she wishes she had known were not true:

1.       “I’m not my own boss. I work for my customers and my team.”

2.       “I don’t make my own hours. My business is on my mind 24/7.”

3.       “It’s not a high-profit business. The costs of worker’s comp, taxes, credit card fees and maintenance really take a big bite out of what’s left.”

Read more in the Aveda Means Business article, “What You Need to Know Before Opening a Salon.”


3 Areas of the Beauty Industry Being Redefined

Beauty is an ever-changing landscape and successful business owners are those that are knowledgeable of shifting trends and prepared to change with the times. Here are three areas of the industry that are burgeoning with new ideas and practices.


The John Robert’s Spa, with four locations in the Cleveland area, is owned by John DiJulius, who puts customer service and guest loyalty at the top of his list of priorities. When DiJulius and his managing partner, Eric Hammond, opened their fourth location, they saw an opportunity to enhance the client experience even more.

Inspired by the Apple store, they lost the front desk and installed a community table where they display some products and have an iPad that guests can use to check out the app or recharge their devices.

To keep their guest service coordinators from being tied up with phone calls all day, they set up a call center. Hammond found a Windows-based tablet that could run all components of their software, SalonBiz, as it was formerly running on their old front desk computer, and now they use it as the primary tool for the guest care coordinators in the salon.

“Having them readily available in the retail area has led to a higher retail per ticket in this salon,” Hammond says.

Check out Aveda Means Business’ article, “Front Desk-Less Future,” for more details on how this salon revamped their guest experience with new technology.



An innovative new hair show is redefining beauty education, placing the focus on creating community. “Elevate” is the brainchild of Tatum Neill, creative director of Paris Parker Salons, hairstylist and DJ. His co-collaborator is Chris Guidry, education director of Paris Parker Salons.

“There’s a big trend right now of people reaching out and creating communities,” Neill says. He was intrigued by the concept of artists from different companies and salons on stage together. “Normally that’s not allowed,” he says. “But the message behind Elevate is that it’s the craft that unites us.”

Elevate’s location changes with every event. So far, it has been held in Dallas, Houston, Nashville and Oklahoma City. On July 10, one will take place in New Orleans, Neill’s home turf.

“We have our system down now,” Neill says. “We go into a market and partner with local artists from a variety of different salon groups—not necessarily just ones that are affiliated with a manufacturer.”

Typical turnout is 100-150 people and Neill says that they never want more than 300 attendees. He compares it to concerts—smaller audiences make for a more intimate experience. Music is playing while artists are on stage and they do not speak while they work. The audience is encouraged to be interactive and ask questions, but the focus is on letting creativity flow.

Read more about how Elevate changes up the typical education format in Aveda Means Business’ article, “Elevate Redefines Beauty Education.”



At Leaf Aveda Salon Spa, owned by Lori Sohu, stylists are all at a 40-percent commission point. Sohu’s system allows them to get 42-percent commission every week if they hit three out of their four benchmarks.

“I need to keep everyone motivated, excited and hitting their benchmarks,” Sohu says. “That’s why I created this.”

“To get the bonus, they must hit benchmarks for service, retail, prebooking and Pure Privilege membership sales,” she says. “If they get three out of those four, they get 42-percent commission that week,” she explains.

For tier-one level stylists, benchmarks are $1,250 in services, $360 in retail, 60 percent prebooked and selling five Pure Privilege memberships in one week.

“If they hit those goals, the commission stays at 42 percent for one week,” Sohu says. “It keeps them moving and motivated by not giving them permanent status.”

Sohu advises anyone thinking about doing a bonus program to make it fun and exciting and give stylists something to look forward to every day and every week.

For more on inspiring team growth, check out the Aveda Means Business article, “Motivating Stylists with a Bonus System.”

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