We were lucky to catch up with Christine McMillan recently and have shared our conversation below.
Christine, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today We’d love to have you retell us the story behind how you came up with the idea for your business, I think our audience would really enjoy hearing the backstory.
I’ve been a hairstylist for quite a while now. I started in a traditional salon and branched out to work for myself 10 years ago. It was so great to be able to make changes where I saw room for improvement.
If you’ve ever seen the back end of a salon business, you would know there is a TON of waste.
I’ve always tried to minimize how much waste I generated as a service provider. I brought empty drink cans home from work and put them in my recycle bin. I made sure to measure out my hair color to reduce what had to be thrown away. I grimaced as I hauled SO MUCH GARBAGE out every night… but at the time I didn’t realize it didn’t have to be that way.
“That’s just how the industry is…”
Queue 2020. During lockdowns I was unable to work. I had A LOT of time to think.
What did I want my business to look like? What could I do better? What choices have I made out of convenience? Is status quo good enough?
I got to work thinking about the actions I could take to make my whole operation more environmentally friendly. I audited my entire business top to bottom.
What products am I using and how are they made? Do those companies use post consumer recycled plastic? What kind of shipping materials does the distributor use? What can I do to reduce my waste and what channels are available for the inevitable waste?
I found solutions to problems I didn’t even realize I had.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
I am a third generation hairstylist. I love the creativity and connection it brings.
My eco salon suite specializes in dimensional hair color, waves, and curls.
I started Rock Paper Scissors Buford to be a private environment for my clients to feel beautiful, confident, empowered, and educated. Beauty is diverse and I invite every person to lean into their own vision of that. A lot of care and intention has gone into curating a unique experience personalized to each client in a relaxing setting.
What do you think helped you build your reputation within your market?
Consistency. Many of my clients have been coming to me for a very long time. In an industry with quite a bit of attrition I’ve had loyalty. I think showing up in a reliable, consistent, and authentic way has built trust. Mutual respect is everything. I respect their time just as much as I expect them to respect mine. I stay up on my education and I’m always looking for ways to improve their experiences.
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
2020 was ROUGH. With shutdowns, politics, racial tensions, and learning to navigate operating a salon during Covid, owning a business was hard. Getting the resources I needed to operate was difficult and expensive. My clients came in with heavy hearts, anxiety, and grief. That kind of weight is contagious. Many of my clients got scared and canceled appointments. I did the best I could to stay open and operate in a way I felt protected my clients.
Three things got me through this.
1) Business savings. I had business savings that kept the lights on. There was a good chunk of time I didn’t take a paycheck, but the business didn’t have to close.
2) Protecting the energy in my space. Restrict conversations of politics or Covid in the salon. There was enough of that talk going around. I wanted to spend our time in positive spaces. A moment of respite in a very intense world.
3) Sunshine. I moved my salon suite within the same building to a spot with a window. I cut my operating space and increased my expenses even when I didn’t have the revenue to justify the change. It was the best decision. Sunshine doesn’t cure everything, but it sure does make hard things more bearable.
Over time, I found my rhythm and eventually was able to take home a paycheck.
- Website: Rockpaperscissorsbuford.com
- Instagram: Instagram.com/rockpaperscissorsbuford
- Facebook: facebook.com/rockpaperscissorsbuford
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