Amy Hazen of Hazen Hair Studio: Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry
An Interview With Jilea Hemmings
I believe in collaboration with others and making long-lasting connections with other people in the beauty industry. A lot of the time, stylists are afraid of this because they look at others as their competition before even getting to know them. My doors have opened to many opportunities throughout my career by just introducing myself and saying hello. Be open to different types of opportunities as well, as it could open the door to new business developments and long-lasting friendships in our industry!
As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Hazen.
With close to 30 years of experience as a hair stylist, Amy Hazen is the owner of Hazen Hair Studio, located within MY SALON Suite in Westborough, Mass. Amy provides a full range of hair services for her clients, specializing in color applications, and is passionate about supporting other beauty entrepreneurs along their journey as a business owner. She has been recognized as a MY SALON Suite 2021 Suite Elite Featured Member for her ongoing success and dedication to her clients.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My mother was a cosmetologist and I grew up with her cutting our family’s hair. I have a lot of great memories of her taking time to make it fun and comforting for us when we were kids. I remember feeling so pretty and beautiful while she was working her magic. Organically I just started taking the scissors and replicating what my mother did, wanting to be like her. In high school I tried to get every friend that would let me put a frosting cap on their head with bleach or curl their hair for a prom. It felt so natural, creative, and rewarding to me to recreate that feeling my mother had given me.
When it came time for me to graduate high school, I was not sure which career path I wanted to go into. I originally wanted to be an art teacher, but I also just loved making people feel beautiful and thought about cosmetology school. I had a hard time deciding which career path would be the better choice at that time. I felt like everyone was going to college and I should too. I wasn’t sure if going into the beauty industry was going to be a profitable job. But my heart was with hair and all the creative opportunities I thought I could have. In the end obviously I chose cosmetology school and quickly realized this career had endless opportunities and I was fascinated to be a part of it. Not only was this a great career decision but I learned quickly that I would always be able to take care of myself with this career path choice.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
In the beginning of my career, I worked for a salon as an assistant for two years before I got my license, but really had no hairdressing skills. At that time, they did not have programs that salons now follow for training to work on clients. Basically, I washed a lot of hair and did a lot of laundry and sweeping and watched other stylists work. I did have the opportunity to work on some clients but not a lot and I really had no idea what I was doing. Being so young and having no fear, I decided right at the two-year mark that that was not for me and I took a chance and rented a booth of my own — with few clients but big dreams of getting fully booked. I quickly realized I needed educational opportunities. There was no Instagram or Facebook and you were lucky if there were any educational classes nearby. I decided to take my education into my own hands and reach out to the color brand I still use today, hoping to get great free training and then in turn educate other stylists.
At that point in my life, I was not willing to fail at my new job. I took advantage of the free education in exchange for educating and teaching for this company. Working with this company ended up not only giving me the skills to get a full clientele, but it also introduced me to a lot of people who would define my career as a young stylist starting out. It was a huge bonus that I enjoyed inspiring others with my craft of hairdressing.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
I realized I was at a salon that was not the best fit for my growth potential anymore. I was not only unhappy there, but I was losing clients and my income was decreasing. I needed to change something to keep growing and that change had to come from me, not where I was working.
At that time, I realized our industry was changing and I needed to change with it to stay relevant and successful in my career. I started utilizing the free platforms Instagram and Facebook to capture all my work. I used these platforms to market to the type of clients I wanted to see my work. It also gave me a way to keep in touch with my clients when the time came to make a move to my next venture.
I focused all my extra time posting and marketing samples of my work, tips on styling, and product recommendations. I spent time figuring out what clients commented on and what they didn’t, to improve my next post to attract more clients. Within eight months of dedicating a lot of time to my social media presence, I was approached by Boston Voyager Magazine to be featured as part of its “Life and Work with…” column. I was so excited that all my hard work and determination were being recognized and I felt that I had pulled myself out of a lull in my career. After that article was published, I had a lot of new clients reaching out, wanting to get into my chair.
When you are working somewhere that you are not growing as an individual or maybe your career seems stalled out, you should take a really good look at yourself to see how you can improve your situation. Maybe you need to find an opportunity where the culture better fits your personality. While I knew I needed to make a change, it was being recognized by a local magazine that pushed me to that tipping point, giving me the motivation and confidence to take a chance on myself.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I met an inspiring woman while working and educating for the color company I previously mentioned. She had that passion of believing in you and making your dreams reality. I liked working with her so much that I went to work for her when she opened her first salon. She was everything I wanted to be and I looked up to her as my mentor. To me, she was educated, beautiful, and super talented in the hair world and I wanted to be just like her. I joined her salon that had a culture that focused on collaboration among the stylists. She carefully picked her staff to create the culture and made the effort to help us grow in our careers. She knew that helping us to succeed would also create a business with great stylists and a welcoming atmosphere. This is where my entrepreneur skills came to light. She had hired a salon coaching business to help her grow her own business and to teach us how to grow our individual businesses as stylists. The business skills I took away from her forever changed me. It made me realize that helping others is one important key to finding success.
As a result of the impact she made on me, I am always seeking opportunities to help others realize their own growth potential as a stylist.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The global beauty industry today has grown to more than a half a trillion-dollar business. Can you tell us about the innovations that you are bringing to the industry? How do you think that will help people?
I think clients are finally taking our careers seriously and realizing how important we are following not being able to see us during the shutdowns last year. Our industry is top notch on keeping you safe and providing a clean and relaxing atmosphere, treating yourself or learning self-care, and enjoying those services with ease.
By having an individual suite, I encourage clients to take advantage of how they want to spend their time in there. It’s ok to just relax or you can utilize this time while I am working on you to work form your computer, take a phone call or Zoom meeting, or buy that amazing styling product because you are going back to the office. The innovation of MY SALON Suite allows the flexibility for my clients to have a very private experience and optimize their time for their own needs.
When it comes to products, stylists need to elevate their skills by incorporating a self-care, whole-body approach to CBD products. Clients are focusing on well-being when it comes to their beauty products, so I have found success with a wellness approach of using CBD to promote a healthy scalp, face, and body. This is the key to helping with hair loss, thinning hair, dry skin, and unbalanced scalps that we have seen just from general stress or Covid complications over the last year. I started to carry a CBD line called RPM. It is certified organic pharmaceutical grade with broad spectrum CBD oil for relief, protection, and moisture for the body, face, and scalp. CBD is making its way into our beauty industry and clients are asking for it. We need to be educating ourselves and the clients on this new beauty essential that is bringing a healthy balance back to our scalp and body regimens.
I decided to start blogging this year to inspire others with new ideas and share about changes in our industry that I have encountered as a stylist and suite owner. I would like to help other stylists know their value or maybe help inspire them to reinvent themselves. Using all the innovative social media platforms to gain access to a wide audience is something that I am taking advantage of. I want to help share my knowledge on how to improve other beauty businesses and how this suite business model can lead to growth and success in this modern beauty industry.
I am finding today that people are also looking for ways to go more natural with an easy approach to their beauty routine. Clients are shifting away from a perfect blow dry or flat iron look. You need to break out every natural wavy hair product you can. It’s time to embrace curls and start educating clients on how to style with curl protectors, curl activators, and controlling creams, and how to style themselves to head out of the door for work. They are looking to learn about new techniques provided by their stylist, that they can quickly do in the morning and head out for the office.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?
- I am so excited about being able to have an online beauty boutique through e-commerce for purchasing beauty products in my own salon suite! This is so important to the beauty industry today as stylists to be able to reach customers beyond our individual suites and be able to carry different things that Amazon and retail stores cannot sell. I had just set up my online shopping a few months prior to the pandemic. When we were closed, the Salon Interactive platform kept my retail business alive. Being available to have online shopping for my clients and followers of my social media platforms has not only been a great source of income, but also kept my clients happy when the economy was shut down. Now my retail sales keep coming in, even when I am not working in the salon.
- Our beauty industry is providing healthier products for our entire bodies. Having the right products for my type of clients has been such a boost in my business. Clients today are looking for clean, toxic free, environmentally friendly products. Our industry keeps amazing me with the latest 10-minute express hair colors and formaldehyde-free smoothing treatments for a healthier wellbeing. The beauty products keep improving and I love introducing environmentally friendly options to clients.
- Having an individual salon suite at MY SALON Suite has been a very exciting new chapter in my career. This modern concept of renting an individual suite and owning my own business has been the best career decision I have made. It’s a high-end, customer-first experience entering the secure facility shared among many individual beauty business owners. It allows you to be able to focus on your craft while running your own business with less day-to-day overhead worries when compared to owning a large salon. My weekly rent includes electricity, the security system, water, salon furniture, Wi-Fi, laundry, and much more. I have never been so thankful for this new salon concept or my decision to take this step and bring the suite experience to my clients.
- I am also excited to see that our Industry has been recognized this past year on how valuable we are to consumers. I have never felt more love from clients than when we were shut down. The experience made me realize how appreciated we are and needed in every community. In Massachusetts, we were designated to reopen in the first phase and categorized along with essential services. As a stylist, I think we have all learned how valuable our jobs are in this crazy world.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?
1 . Protecting your mental and physical health as a stylist concerns me the most. Setting boundaries is hard for stylists. We like to please people and put everyone else before ourselves. It is also extremely hard to maintain working exceptionally long hours as you get older in this career. So finding a salon that can help you with work balance is very important.
You need to take a deep look at yourself and realize you need work balance. You need to learn to optimize your scheduling with lunch/breaks and set boundaries for your own personal time from the very beginning and clients will respect you and your craft more. You also need to realize that it’s ok if your schedule does not work with a particular client. If they can’t rearrange their schedule to come, there will be another client who will.
2. Another concern is the meeting the demand from consumers who want a sustainable packaging approach to products and how to purchase them. Consumers want to know what is in their products and understand the ingredients. I decided to carry a haircare brand called Kevin Murphy that creates products with a conscience. Their products do no harm to the environment by utilizing packaging that is recyclable from ocean waste plastic. They also contain the finest natural ingredients available that are also environmentally conscious.
A lot of professional products are being sold in retail stores and Amazon which can present a loss of retail income to the stylist. I decided to work with a company called Evolve Salon Systems out of New Hampshire and their approach is to help the salon or stylist be able to sell exclusive products to clients. Clean beauty products that are made with less chemicals and recycled ocean plastics are what I have focused on to differentiate my retail offerings from other general retail options.
I love to support the use of clean beauty products that are sustainable with less harsh chemicals and gender-neutral fragrances — cruelty free, paraben free, sulfate free, gluten free, vegan, and ecofriendly. I personally have seen a shift in clients purchasing more skincare and body products from me this year. They were willing to buy these types of products because they seem to want to take care of themselves after all we have been through over the last year as a society. I am seeing a shift in customer interests and I am not just selling haircare products but also other innovative beauty product options. It is important to be supported by a partner company that has access to different innovative brands for you to sell exclusively on your beauty-focused online store.
3. Knowing your worth as a stylist is also a big issue. Too many stylists start off discounting services to friends and do not recognize that this is a career, this is a business, and you should keep it professional. If you continue to discount your value, you will end up working free half the time. You need to know your price per hour that you need to achieve your profit and loss each month when renting a suite, or you will not grow and succeed. Costs of goods are rising this past year and that will only continue. You need to always be ahead of the game and know your next step so you can afford the new products coming out. I invest a lot of my time into not only learning my trade but also taking business courses on the growth of my salon.
You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?
In my salon, I educate clients to “Be your OWN Beautiful.” To me that means embracing your natural hair rather than fighting it by trying to style it all the time. After this past year, many people are embracing curls and waves and natural air-dried styles. Find that beach spray textured product or curl enhancer and let that hair air dry!! Learn to let go of that perfectly straightened hair as it takes too much of your precious time!
Right now, one of my most requested services is Face Framing Highlight to achieve dramatic brightness with a pop of color. You cannot go wrong with this low-maintenance service.
Last best tip and this comes from my mother: never leave the house without mascara and lipstick! You never know who you might bump into.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, Can you please share “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”. Please share a story or an example, for each.
1 . You need to create a business plan. Everything starts here first and without that you will get lost on your reason of why you wanted to open in the first place. The beauty industry is full of talented individuals, but prepared entrepreneurs will have successful businesses. It takes a balance of business sense and creative talent to be a booth renter, a salon owner, or, as I am now, a MY SALON Suite entrepreneur.
Your goals become important parts of your plan and are also good reminders of how far you have come! Without this, your brand, logo, and design of your space will not represent the image that you want. I did not have a clear picture in the beginning of my plan with respect to the design and organization of my suite space, but just recently I was able to work with an organizer and designer and I am in the process of a makeover in my suite.
2. Do not give up and remember success does not happen overnight! You must be committed to opening a business and put in a lot of hard work into it to get it up and running that first year. You might not sleep a lot or miss a few things on your social calendar, but I can tell you it is worth it! I was determined the first year to put six months of salary away in case something happened I could not control. I was really relieved when I had a good amount of money saved before a forced closure that was out of my control due to the pandemic.
3. I believe in collaboration with others and making long-lasting connections with other people in the beauty industry. A lot of the time, stylists are afraid of this because they look at others as their competition before even getting to know them. My doors have opened to many opportunities throughout my career by just introducing myself and saying hello. Be open to different types of opportunities as well, as it could open the door to new business developments and long-lasting friendships in our industry!
4. You must have an open mind to new innovations and all types of education in the beauty industry. Take the time to become familiar with all social media platforms as well as how to utilize them as they are usually free and are the best marketing tool you could ever want. I recently got out of my comfort zone and took a course at The Fashion Institute of Technology on The Beauty Industry Essentials. I never realized the amount of detail, production, and work that go into packaging a product. The course taught me that it all has a huge influence that needs to be considered when I am contemplating offering any beauty product to women in my salon!
5. Always sharpen your all your scissors at the same time once a year! It is the little details that make the service in my industry. This yearly routine detail leads up to happiness in the haircut and no split ends.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would love to develop a workshop program collaborating with fellow mentors that helps inspire other stylists, guides them to find their niche, helps with business development, teaches them to be willing to take a risk, and adds value to other independent hairdressers to have the confidence to start a business. Many people don’t have the confidence or means to start their own business and creating that supportive environment to help others achieve their dreams to have their own beauty business is something that I always think about.
As part of a salon community within MY SALON Suite, meeting other beauty business owners and mentoring some of the younger stylists, this is always on my mind. I would love to collaborate with others interested in inspiring and supporting fellow entrepreneurs.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The only difference between where you are and where you want to be is the steps you haven’t taken yet!
I believe in taking chances, change, and believing in yourself. You need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable to grow in a career. Two years ago, I had briefly lost this feeling because I had grown out of the salon where I was working. I realized I did not have growth in my career or any life balance. I had to reset my thinking and took an opportunity on a solo career in a new concept in my area called MY SALON Suite. This modern industry beauty concept has been a game changer in so many aspects of my career and life. It has been the best career decision I have made so far in our beauty industry.
How can our readers follow you online?
https://hazenhairstudio.com/ (website and blog)
Tik Tok @hazenhairstudio
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
About the Interviewer: Jilea Hemmings is a staunch believer in the power of entrepreneurship. A successful career revamping Fortune 500 companies was not enough for her entrepreneurial spirit, so Jilea began focusing her passion in startups. She has successfully built 6 startups to date. Her passion for entrepreneurship continues to ﬂourish with the development of Stretchy Hair Care, focusing on relieving the pain associated with detangling and styling natural black hair. For far too long, people with tender heads have suffered in pain. Until now.