Looking sharp on the job

Posted on January 13, 2009. Filed under: resources, startup | Tags: , , |


What happens when a ‘mad genius’ type 4th generation German shear maker goes drinking with a well known tattoo artist?

Freebird Shears – where we believe the tool a stylist uses should represent their own personality and flair.

Freebird Shears is the brainchild of Maurice Stoll a fourth generation German Master Craftsman.

After immigrating to the United States he was faced with how he was to earn a living, he then fell back on the century old family business. Stoll got his start selling family shears “Made in Solingen, Germany” as well as sharpening services to salons and stylist across Texas and its surrounding states. As his business grew, he yearned for a young, fresh and updated twist to shears while still paying homage to his family’s history and roots.

It was his desire to develop a selection of shears that are as artistic and unique as the designers’ individual style. Although, professional styling shears are not a new concept, especially for a fourth generation craftsman, Stoll wanted something innovative so he revamped an old product for a new generation. Similar to what Google did for the Internet search and Starbucks for Coffee.

To fulfill his vision of the ‘perfect’ shear, he consulted leading master craftsmen, artisans and designers from Japan, Germany and the U.S.A. to leverage century old knowledge and fuse it with the latest ground-breaking production techniques known to man.

After perfecting the production process, Stoll met with Elvis Crocker a well-known tattoo artist in Arlington, Texas (formerly of NYHC Tattoos) and created shears inspired by Crocker’s designs. Each shear has a design intricately cut into the handle and these designs vary wildly from “Butterfly Kisses” to “Key to my Heart” and from “Iron Cross” to “Skulls and Crossbones”.

Stoll’s goal of developing a cutting instrument like no other in performance, design and uniqueness was in sight. After several years of planning, development and research, Freebird Shears was born and is proud to be one of the few companies to have their own production facility in which they incorporate the finest hammer-forged Japanese steel while fusing German and Japanese craftsmanship with American passion, design, ingenuity and technology.

Freebird Shears are not simply cut by a machine and finished but go through over 250 steps by hand to create a flawless shear before they are finished and perfectly balanced by a master craftsman during final inspection.

Stoll’s idea may have begun with shears but that is not where Freebird Shears has ended. They also offer thinning shears and razors with matching designs so the stylist has an option to use a trio of tools or give them the ability to create their own unique set. For the easiest use and most convenience; Freebird razors use standard premium shaper blades that are available in any beauty supply store.


Have an idea for a design you would like to see in a shear of your own? Freebird Shears is also able to take company logos and personal designs to create a custom shear. These can come in a variety of colors, including laser designs or special engravings.

Freebird Shears: Innovative Tools for Creative Minds

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What should we name this baby?

Posted on July 7, 2008. Filed under: small business, startup | Tags: , , , |

Picking a name for your business is as hard or harder than picking a name for a child.  A name means so much.  It gives the initial feel for a business; communicating something just by being.

When I named my salon 17 years ago, I had no idea what I was doing.  I wanted something that sounded exotic, so that it would stand out.  It was also the era of The Phone Book and since we couldn’t afford a big ad, we wanted the name to begin with an A to put us up front in the listings.  Not a great start.

The name we have today (Azarra Salon) is just fine.  It isn’t phenomenal, but it doesn’t suck.  My friend, who just named his one-man salon Solamente Jessee, thinks we should change the name to Irreverent.  If I hadn’t spent the last 17 years building this brand, I just might do it, but it seems a bit late in the game to change when there isn’t a big glaring reason to do so.

It would have helped if I would have read this article first.  Why don’t you give it a read before you name your new salon?

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Is a franchise salon the right choice for you?

Posted on June 16, 2008. Filed under: small business, startup | Tags: , |

If you want to open your own salon, but feel like you could use more than a bit of help, a franchise could be the answer you seek.

The upside of a franchise is the assistance you get from the main company and the benefit of being a part of a bigger marketing machine than you could afford on your own.

The downside is that you are agreeing to do things the company way.

It’s all about choices.

Check it out to see if this looks like a good fit for you and your business personality.

Be sure to read up on franchising in general, as well.  I don’t want you to have any surprises.

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First time being the boss?

Posted on May 16, 2008. Filed under: management, startup | Tags: , |

It is harder than you think to go from being one of the team to the coach.  Some people are inherently good at it and some need some help.  (I wasn’t naturally good at it and could have used some help!)

Ron @ The Wisdom Journal has put together a few things that he learned as a new manager that could save you some stress.

That first big promotion. What a rush! I held the keys, I made decisions, I made the schedule, I was in charge. Nothing beats the smug satisfaction of a career that’s on track. Add to that the bigger paycheck and the confidence that came from being called “boss,” and I felt like I was on top of the world. After all, I was in charge, right?

Read the rest of the article here.

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LLC or S-Corp – What is the proper business type for you?

Posted on May 14, 2008. Filed under: finance, small business, startup | Tags: , , , |

When you open your own salon, you have to decide whether to be a sloe proprietor, an S-Corp or an LLC.  your accountant can give you more details on which is best for you, but you can get a general idea of what the different choices are in this article from Small Biz Survival.

When NOT to be a Sole Proprietorship: Forming an LLC or S Corp

Sole proprietorship is the simplest form of business, but it also has some disadvantages. So for this installment of the Small Biz 100, I’ll talk about some of the situations where you don’t want to be a sole proprietorship and what types of business you might want to form.
Note: All of this discussion is specific to small businesses in the USA.
Note 2: More info on when TO be a sole proprietorship is in the Checklists for starting your first business post.

Read the rest of the article here.

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How to pick a location for your business

Posted on May 10, 2008. Filed under: small business, startup | Tags: , , |

When I first opened my salon, I took over the lease of a salon that had bought it’s own building and moved down the street.  I did only basic research on the building and the neighborhood.  I got lucky.

When I moved my salon from the neighborhood we inhabited for 13 years and moved to another, I did more investigating.  I wish I had had this article to go by, as it offers very specific ways of checking out a location.  One thing Tim doesn’t mention that I think is a key for salons: take a look at the people coming and going around the prospective space.  Do they look like your customers?  If your average client shops exclusively from Eddie Bauer, and all the people you see milling about are pierced and tattooed, you might not have the right place!

Check it out.

It’s Not All About Location, Location, Location

by Tim Knox, author of
Everything I Know About Business I Learned from my Mama

No matter what your product or service the key to finding a great location is through good old fashioned legwork. You can use a commercial realtor to help identify potential locations, but you should take it upon yourself to visit each location at different times of the day, on different days of the week, to make sure it’s truly the best location for your particular business.

A location may look great in the morning, but not-so-great in the afternoon; or may have tons of traffic on Monday, but an empty parking lot on Friday. Never judge a location on a single visit. Go there at different times of the day and night, on different days of the week, and observe the flow of traffic. Trust me: you won’t know for sure how good a location is without going through this process.

Read the rest of the article here.

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How do you set your prices when you are starting a new business?

Posted on May 5, 2008. Filed under: finance, small business, startup | Tags: , |

When I first went into business for myself I moved from a commission salon to one where I rented a private studio.  The place I started to think about my prices (like most of you, I imagine) was the prices my previous salon had charged for my services.

Oh, yea, and I asked every hairdresser I know what they were charging.

Sure wish I had the internet back then!  It is super easy now to get market comparisons just by looking up the websites of other salon in your area.

Over the years, our pricing strategy evolved.  We tried many different models, but the bottom line always come down to supply and demand.  If the service provider is booked and can’t make more money by doing more clients, the only way to make more money is to raise prices.

When you start a salon, chances are you are moving from a salon where you have clients and an existing menu.  You want these clients to follow you, so it makes sense not to shake things up too much in the finance department.

However, there is nothing wrong with implementing a different pricing strategy that you can transition the existing clients into while new clients jump right in.  (Remember, new clients have no idea how much you used to charge.)

So, maybe the salon you are leaving charged everything al a carte and you want things to be more inclusive.  No worries!  Explain the new philosophy to the existing clients and as long as the end result of their cost is close to what they had been paying, they will be fine.  If you need to charge more, explain to them what added value they will receive for the additional charge.  I think it makes sense to keep them at the same price for the first visit so that they can see why the new is worth more than the old.  (Here’s where your website comes in handy.  It’s the place where you can explain in great detail who you are and what you believe as well as what that will cost!)

Do not think that being cheap will get or keep clients!  Unless your target market is the budget-conscious consumer, do not be the lowest priced option available to your clients!

I know very well which other salons in my area my clients would likely use if they weren’t seeing us.  I never want price to be the reason they choose us over another salon.  I am priced similarly to other salons of my caliber.

There was one salon owner who told me that she just didn’t think our city would pay $50 for a haircut.  She has since changed her mind.

When the people at the top of the price ladder raise their prices, it makes room for everyone on the rungs below to raise theirs.  Are you the third best salon choice in your market?  Price yourself accordingly.  Is no one better educated and has a better salon?  Then you better be the top, baby!  (My salon has some of the best staff in our town, but our salon is not lavish and lush, so we price ourselves slightly under the more lavish salons.  Make sense?)

That’s a lot of back story to get to this point:  I basically charge $100 an hour.  Haircuts are 30 minutes and $50.  A partial foil is an hour and $100.  I still have some prices that don’t quite match up, but I have been working on getting everything more in line with that philosophy.

I have an article here for you to read with further insight on the topic of pricing in small business.

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So, you think you want to open your own salon? (from GSH archive)

Posted on March 30, 2008. Filed under: startup | Tags: , , |

Ah, small business ownership.  The Great American Dream.

I talk people out of it all the time.

The biggest reason?  There is less money in it than you think.

The next biggest?  It is more work than you think.

The next?  Just because you are a good hairdresser doesn’t mean you will be a good business owner.

Here is an article for you that gives you some myths and realities about small business ownership.


Myth #1 – Life is easier when you’re your own boss and you own the business.
Reality – Nope. Not a chance. You become the face of your company. Anything that goes wrong, or that doesn’t go perfectly right is 100 percent your fault. You have to fix it. If one of your employees drives your $45,000 delivery truck across a newly poured concrete driveway and cracks it to pieces, you get to pay for it. If your credit manager mistakenly writes down the wrong lien date on the legal paperwork, you get to eat the loss. If you screw up on your taxes, you don’t get to blame anyone else. If someone claims they got sick at your restaurant, I hope you have insurance and a good attorney. You get to pay both of those bills, too.

Here is another with reasons to not be an entrepreneur.


8. Lack Of Reward Begats Lower Motivation – When running your own business, there really is no telling when you will be rewarded or even how you will be rewarded. You may hope for a bigger bank balance or aspire to develop an industry leading product, but that can’t happen without motivation and drive. Becoming an entrepreneur essentially means taking risks in hope of receiving reward, but without ever really knowing when the reward will come. If that’s something you can’t deal with, then starting your own business is not the ideal choice.

Yes.  I know that some people have huge success with their own salon.  But the truth of the matter is that most salons make little or no profit other than the income the working hairdresser/owner generates.  You can read more about this topic in  The E-Myth.

What is the E-Myth?

The “E-Myth,” or Entrepreneurial Myth, is the flawed assumption that people who are expert at a certain technical skill will therefore be successful running a business of that kind.

  • “I want to be my own boss”
  • “I want to make more money”
  • “I want to have have more time to enjoy my life”

Most small business owners assume that owning their own business will deliver on these goals.

It’s a common misconception that because someone understands the nuts-and-bolts technical work, they will similarly understand how a business providing that sort of product or service should function.

If you are hell bent on the idea of going into business for yourself, please do yourself a favor and spend a good year researching the industry and deciding what you will do to be different and to stand out in a crowded marketplace.  Don’t do it because you think the salon owner you are working for is getting rich off of your hard work (chances are they aren’t.)

Here is an article with a very basic checklist for first time business owners.

Here is an article about determining startup costs.

The last thing the world needs is just another salon.

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Business Owner’s Toolkit

Posted on March 30, 2008. Filed under: resources, startup | Tags: , , , |

I found a great resource for small business owners.  You have to sign up as a member, but membership is free.  It gives you access to lots of forms that you may find very helpful.

Click around the sight and make use of all their resources.

Here’s an excerpt from the post Owner’s Checklist for Starting a New Business.  The post describes the file that you can download.

The attached file contains a checklist for all the steps you should take before you start a new business. It’s a “to do” list for starting a new business in much the same way that a grocery list is a “to do” for grocery shopping.

It contains a general, high-level listing of the tasks you need to complete in starting your new business. So, for example, while it lists “prepare a business plan” as one of the tasks, it does not list every step you need to take to create a business plan.

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