We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Amy Craig a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Amy, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Talk to us about building your team? What was it like? What were some of the key challenges and what was your process like?
The first employee I ever hired was in a Panera. Finally, to start my own business I had taken a leap and signed a lease, but my build out was taking astronomically long and my space wasn’t done yet. I had to interview employees sitting in a booth drinking crappy coffee, and feeling like a total imposter. “Hey I have this great business idea that I swear to God I’m building please come work for me”..It was terrifying. I didn’t know how to interview or vet employees yet, I was just sitting there thinking like everyone else ” How hard could it be?”. The only thing I knew was a piece of advice I was told ” Amy, people will never be loyal to a company, a machine for churning out money. They will be loyal to a person or employer they trust. So if you are ever in a position to earn that trust, do it by making decisions that benefit both of you. Not just you”.
Spoiler: It was very hard. In the beginning I had no idea how to discern peoples motivations. I took things personally. I think I seriously just did the Barbie dream house version of building a business without really diving into what type of employee I needed. What type of employee I wanted. And what type of coworkers would allow them to become the best versions of themselves. Because that is the key. Building a team that works well together, that balances each other out. Somebody’s high functioning anxiety can become a tool to redirect somebody’s well-meaning laid-back nature. Some days pragmatic instructor vibes can be the perfect balance on the salon floor next to the weekend warrior who’s super artistic and benefits from absorbing the calm control next to them. I learned by working in a luxury service & retail environment previously that making everybody look the same or be the same makes you lose the possibility of being uniquely amazing. And together a team that complements each other ( instead of competing ) will ultimately always work happier, provide exceptional experiences and results for your guests, and encourage each other to succeed.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
I got into the hairstyling business after a wild road through my 20’s , including a failed marriage, 89 different jobs that I was either fired from or quit. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t fit the traditional box that everyone wanted me to be in. College, desk job, etc. Luckily I had parents who were supportive of the advantages of a trades position and not narrow minded. I was lucky. A personal loss provided me with the inspiration I needed to change my trajectory into doing something I loved. For me that was doing hair. For me that was making people look on the outside the way they felt on the inside. I love my guests. My staff really do love their guests. There is no better place than either of my shops that anyone can go to to find themselves a little pocket of quality “me time”, and to feel they are among people who really ‘get’ them & their needs.
We provide bespoke hair & make up services, as well as event styling for all hair types and textures on site or in shop. For all clientele. We do so in a welcoming and bright environment in Clawson Michigan, in an our second location in Royal Oak Michigan. In addition to on site event styling we offer many different methods of hair extensions services, make up lessons, corrective color for transitions to and from color families, and have many stylists that specialize in vivid color placement.
Has your business ever had a near-death moment? Would you mind sharing the story?
Learning how to navigate opening your own business off in the best of circumstances. But learning how to reinvent your business and how to re-circumnavigate your business environment during a global pandemic was a challenge on another level. I could never have expected to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic would change intimately the landscape of our society, and how it would completely ravage and reshape the landscape of business management and ownership. Having to watch people I care about who work with me go through such terrifying times of uncertainty financially, medically, mentally what is one of the hardest things I will ever do. Learning how to navigate the new normal within a business environment was frustrating. Trying to make sure that your business survives, along with wanting to make sure of the comfort and survival of your staff, was a full-time 24 hour a day job for 2 1/2 years. In our business, we have to be client facing. We didn’t have the luxury of staying at home and working in front of a computer, having zoom meetings.
Very quickly we had to be out every day, because people wanted the ability to have something normal, even if we had to put ourselves in a precarious position to give them that and to provide for our families. As we turn the corner on the pandemic, the new business landscape and the employees that live in it have changed dramatically. So we as business owners must also change.
Focus is now more strongly on quality of life & work life balance, with businesses still having in most cases having to provide higher levels of output with staff who understandably have come to require more control over how their time is spent. One of the best benefits of this challenge has been all of us seeing the worth of the services we provide to our community, scaling our business model to match that worth, and gaining a new passion and appreciation for what we do. That has allowed us to thrive in and otherwise not hospitable economic environment.
We’d love to hear about how you keep in touch with clients.
One of our greatest tools to keep in touch with guests and helps us bolster around loyalty is a social media and marketing calendar that isn’t overwhelming. We sent out bi-monthly emails, we try not to oversaturate clients with spam. New guests and all guests are treated like first time guests every time they walk to the door. They are made to feel important and heard by receiving a one on one consultation with a stylist who is solely focused on their needs. Guests are made aware that all of our staff are available to service them, they are not strapped into just one stylist. Our staff shares ideas, formulations and collaborate with each other frequently. By doing this, it provides a client with more choices, less anxiety about those choices, and the freedom to freely change as they change, or if they feel they don’t have a good connection with their current staff member. Creating an environment where guests feel free to make their own choices about their journey, and where staff feel comfortable enough to play to their strengths or pass a challenge onto someone more suited is what makes us a stronger team.
- Website: www.hartandharlowsalon.com
- Instagram: @hartandharlow