There are many ways to go about answering the question of how to make a salon successful. Some success stories are once-in-a-lifetime strokes of fate, but usually they’re the result of hard work, smart choices, and knowing when to take risks. Having a point of view isn’t always the most comfortable business decision, but for the highly competitive salon industry, it may be what separates you from the pack. Here's what five of the world’s top beauty businesses can teach you about standing out and doubling down while you explore how to make a salon successful.
Industry • Best Practice
How to Make a Salon Successful: Lessons From 4 Top Beauty Businesses
Let the success secrets of the world’s leading salons inspire you to achieve your business goals.
How to make a salon Successful
#1: Drybar does one thing and makes it fun
Drybar staked its claim in the salon world as an expert in wash-and-dry blowout styling services. That means no haircuts and no color treatments — in fact, most of the services that work as salons’ bread and butter are absent at Drybar. That’s the secret to Drybar’s success: focusing on one thing and becoming the best at it.
Strong branding is another element in Drybar’s success. Beyond the company’s name, the “bar” idea factors into practically every element of the business. Styling services have drinks-inspired titles like the Uptini (also known as an updo) and the Shirley Temple (a blow-out for kids under 10). Drybar’s product line — which is sold at Drybar locations and at Sephora, Nordstrom, and Macy’s — also plays on cocktail-related terms, like the Gin Twist collection for curly hair and dryer brushes that come in Single or Double Shot sizes.
Many franchise locations are also organized with stations that look more like a cocktail bar than a classic hair salon, bringing a relaxed, social feel to the experience. Since it was founded in California in 2008, Drybar has grown to include over 150 locations across the United States. In 2020, the company was acquired for $255 million by beauty conglomerate, Helen of Troy Limited.
#2: Devachan knows curly hair better than anyone
Let’s face it, some hair types require more care and specialized attention than others. New York-based salon Devachan started in 1994 to cater specifically to the curly-haired community. The company’s mission is “to transform curls, hearts, careers, and lives by celebrating authentic and inclusive beauty.”
While the flagship Devachan salon is in NYC, the Deva brand has expanded to include DevaCurlPro, a robust professional program. The company’s educational arm, DevaCurl Academy, trains and empowers stylists to deliver expert curl care wherever their styling careers take them. With the Devachan studio, DevaPro department, and DevaCurl product line combined, the Deva brand has positioned itself as the nation’s leader on all things curls.
That positioning supports Devachan’s broader success and growth by allowing the company to serve the curl community beyond the New York City area. If a client searches online for a stylist with curl-hair expertise, chances are they’ll come across the Devachan website where they can find a Deva-trained professional at a salon near them.
#3: Fox + Jane shares the love
Fox + Jane has been a powerful force in the industry since 2011, when stylist Lorean Cairns partnered with marketing professional Billy Canu to create a salon that felt like home. At its locations in New York, Colorado, New Jersey, and Toronto, Canada, the company strives to build community and support salon professionals to become leaders.
The Fox + Jane concept began with Cairns’ frustration at the many top salons where she had been a stylist over the course of her career. Starting her own company was an opportunity to explore how to improve beauty salon business in general. The result is a model that focuses on being fun, progressive, and above all, accessible. Fox + Jane’s branding is immensely approachable, with a hip and cool vibe that comes through in pastel colors and funky fonts. And the salon’s prices are based on hair length and technical difficulty instead of gender-based pricing.
Behind the scenes, the secret to Fox + Jane’s business success is the support they offer salon professionals nationwide. In order to encourage growth and promote successful, sustainable salon industry careers, the brand offers personalized business coaching, educational programs, and a support system of like-minded beauty pros that dream big and aim high. Combined with the brand’s progressive, accessible approach to salon services, the educational side of the business means that clients and stylists alike benefit from the support of a powerhouse crew.
#4: Sally Hershberger is luxe all the way, every day
Sally Hershberger is a high-end salon brand with a dedicated cult following. With salons in New York and Los Angeles, the company offers luxury-level experiences delivered by a team of world-class stylists and, of course, Hershberger herself. As a revered stylist with a star-studded client list, Hershberger was wise to put her personal name on the company shingle.
The Hershberger name has come to represent a salon experience that is as luxurious as can be, even if the stylist is someone other than Sally. In that sense, the lesson from Hershberger’s success is the importance of finding what makes your salon stand out and leaning all the way in. Sally Hershberger salons reflect her proven expertise not only with high-end hairstyling, but also with how to be a successful salon owner.
Another important element of Hershberger’s success is the 24K product line. A custom branded retail selection means that clients can take care of their hair the Hersberger way between salon visits. The luxe branding earns each product a spot of prime bathroom counter real estate, instead of being just another bottle to toss in the under-sink cabinet. At the same time, the product line also makes the Sally Hershberger experience accessible to those who might not be able to travel to New York or Los Angeles, or who aren’t comfortable shelling out for such a high-end haircut.
The most successful salons in the world traveled many different paths to achieve their dreams. One thing these four have in common is that they found what makes them unique and then focused all their efforts on spreading that gift far and wide. Do you know what makes your salon special? Discovering that may be the key to your success.
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