We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Cassandra Perez a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Cassandra , thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us 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?
When I first opened Color and Contour Studio, I was a one women show in a single chair salon suite. I always knew I wanted to expand my space and team, but I also knew that I had a lot to learn about the business side of the salon first. I already had spent time perfecting the craft of being behind the chair doing hair, but I knew nothing about running a business. I truly believe starting smaller has played a huge part in the success of growing my business. While I was in my single chair salon suite, I took the time to learn the ins and outs of being a business owner. I was able to learn how to track my business income/expenses, manage inventory, and come up with a system for my business taxes/book keeping. I also was able to focus on building my brand. I took the time to find my favorite product lines, build a website, and expand my social media platform. After Color and Contour Studio was opened for 2 years, I was ready to expand my space and grow my team. I opened a bigger salon in 2021 with enough space to have more stylists. I always knew I wanted to mentor and teach, so I created a commission salon structure for my team. During my interview process I always look for stylists who are eager to learn. I have created a system where new stylists joining the team will first assist and apprentice. During this time they get one on one training on product lines, cutting, coloring and so much more! Color and Contour Studio is still currently growing and I hope to expand my space and team again very soon. If I was starting today growing my team and business, I actually wouldn’t do anything differently. I truly believe that owning a business and becoming a team leader is a learning process and if I didn’t have failures I wouldn’t learn and know how to be better. I feel like I am learning new things every day and I hope that never changes!
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
I was born and raised in small town Chillicothe, Missouri. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I truly realized I wanted to be a hair stylist and own a salon. I remember feeling like I needed to “do” or “be” more. I thought if I didn’t go to a 4 year university and get a degree that I wouldn’t be successful. I always loved going to my hometown hair salon and would literally go any chance I got. I remember looking up to all those girls working in the salon and wishing I could be just like them. The salon was truly one of my absolute favorite places to be. Ever since I can remember, I have always put an insane amount of pressure on myself to be perfect and to follow the path our society tells us to. But I realized that year, the year I was about to graduate high school, that I could use that drive and determination that I’ve always had inside of me to be successful in any path that I chose to take, not just the path that everyone else was choosing. So I did just that. I moved two hours away from the comfort of my tiny home town to what felt to me like the big city. I started cosmetology school and began my journey. Fast forward to today, and I can proudly say that with a lot of hard work and determination, I have been making my dreams come true. Not a day goes by that I am not happy with my decision I made in high school. I love my career and all the opportunities it has provided for me. Today you can find me coloring and cutting hair for my clients that have become like friends and family to me. I really enjoy coloring and specialize in all things blonde. One thing I have learned is that being a hairstylist is so much more than just coloring and cutting hair. Most of the time people coming to sit in our chair are not only wanting to feel beautiful on the outside, but on the inside as well. At my salon we make it a point to focus on both. I think this aspect sets us apart, because connecting and forming a deeper relationship with all of our clients is important to us. I would love for all future/potential clients coming in to Color and Contour Studio to know that they can come to us just as they are and we will welcome them with loving arms! It is important to us to form a connection where we will laugh with you, cry with you, celebrate big moments in your life like weddings, job interviews, proposals. When you step foot into Color and Contour Studio we want to make sure to care of more than just your hair.
Learning and unlearning are both critical parts of growth – can you share a story of a time when you had to unlearn a lesson?
My biggest lesson I had to unlearn is the need to be perfect at everything I do. Failing is normal and it is an essential part of becoming better and an opportunity to grow and learn. As I said earlier, from a young age I always put pressure on myself to be perfect, but owning a business has taught me that without failures you can never grow! When I look back on the times that I tried something and failed, I realize those were the times that I actually learned the most about running a business. While many people may joke, nobody is born knowing exactly how to be a strong leader and own a business but with a lot of resilience, hard work, and some failures we can learn!
What’s been the most effective strategy for growing your clientele?
The most effective strategy for growing my clientele has definitely been word of mouth and referrals. When somebody comes and sits in our chairs and leaves loving their hair, they tell their friends and family. At Color and Contour Studio we have always offered a referral reward. When a client refers someone they get $10 off their next service. Over the years I have found referrals are one of the best ways to grow clientele.