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Opening a Business in a Post-Covid World

This week, I chat with Alyssa Jackson, a new salon owner in Boston, MA who is excited to share about opening a business in a post-covid world.

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This week, I get to chat with Alyssa Jackson, coming from the Boston, Massachusetts area. She has been married nearly 10 years and has two children. A daughter who is 8, and a son who is 6. She managed a salon for over 10 years, and decided to open her own salon just over a year ago. They have been open since April 2021 and are about to open a second location on September 1, 2022. She grew her first salon to 4 employees and with the second location, will have a total of 7. Listen in to her story of becoming a business owner post-covid and hear as we break down a few stereotypes about the hair and cosmetology world.


Alyssa Jackson is our special guest today, coming from the Boston, Massachusetts area. She has been married nearly 10 years and has two children. A daughter who is 8, and a son who is 6. IShe anaged a salon for over 10 years, and decided to open her own salon just over a year ago. They have been open since April 2021 and are about to open a second location, post-covid on September 1, 2022. She grew her first salon to 4 employees and with the second location will have a total of 7. Listen in to her story of becoming a business owner and break down a few stereotypes about the hair and cosmetolgy world.

Well, hello everyone. It is your host, Emily, a Woodruff. I am excited to be here with you for another week. I have a special guest with us today. Her name is Alyssa and she is from salon volition. Alyssa, why don’t you give us a little introduction about you and your business? Sure. Thank you so much, Emily, for having me here.

I’m so excited to be on this platform with you and sharing. Like you said, my name is Alyssa. I am from the north shore area of Massachusetts, north of Boston. And I am married with two children, uh, eight year old and a six year old. And I’m just about to hit my 10 year wedding anniversary coming up in September.

So all great things. And I opened my salon volition. Just under a year and a half ago. And since we’ve opened up, uh, we’ve had a great response and it’s been phenomenal. So I’m really happy to be here and share everything with you guys. That is so exciting. So what do you, what kind of services do you offer at your salon?

So we are a strictly hair salon right now. Meaning we offer hair coloring, haircuts, extensions, and you know, some smoothing services. We don’t have, uh, nails or waxing or facials or anything. It’s just hair services. Uh, we specialize in natural hair coloring. So. Colors that look like they grew out of your head that way, or maybe a little bit of an extra pop, but just like that kind of beautiful natural look and also hair extensions.

That’s neat. That’s really neat. That’s kind of fun too. Cuz there’s so many places that want to use like the bright and unnatural things and it’s neat to see people really tapping into the natural beauty, you know exactly. Yeah. Like I feel people feel most confident when. They can walk out of the salon and somebody says to them, wow, your hair looks beautiful versus, oh, did you just get your hair done?

Like, it looks different, you know, almost just that natural confidence is instilled with that. Yeah, totally agree. So what made you wanna open up your own salon? Yeah. So it was a little bit of, um, a shocker. It was nothing that was planned with me. I was working at a salon for, I was almost at the 11 year mark and I managed, um, there was two separate locations by the time I left and I was mainly, uh, general manager for both, but then I was more located in one.

Uh, so I. Kind of happy. I was just managing behind the chair doing my thing. Uh, and unfortunately there was some unforeseen circumstances where, um, a group of us girls had to leave due to legal reasons. Uh, and yeah, so I can’t get too in depth with that, but legally, but, uh, we had to leave, so I. Left in January of 2021.

And I rented a chair, which is a different version of being a, in a salon. You could be an employee or you can rent a chair, which is kind of like being your own business owner in a sense, but you’re in a chair in somebody else’s salon. Um, and it just didn’t feel enough for me. Uh, I felt like I needed more and like I was meant for more so.

February. I wanna say it was February 19th. I signed my lease and by April 1st we were in opened with volition. So it was really quick and unexpected, but I truly believe everything happens for a reason. And when one door closes another open and that’s how my salon came about. That’s awesome. That’s so great.

Yeah. Is that something you’ve always like, dreamed about since you were a little girl, it just kind of happened. Yeah. You know, it’s really funny. I always say that, like, I, um, you know, a lot of hairdressers or hair stylists, I should say, um, as a little girl or from a young age, like loved playing with hair and doing their friend’s hair and Barbie’s hair, and just always kind of had that passion and like, or even when they got into it, they always wanna open their salon one day and I have always been entrepreneurial, but it just was not something that.

I ever saw myself doing, I was happy where I was at. I was content it. It wasn’t a passion of mine, surprisingly. Um, and even like, as a kid, like, I didn’t enjoy doing other people’s hair. I just, one day said, you know, I’m gonna go to school for hair. And I, and I did it and I enjoyed it. It, I don’t know, I don’t know how to describe that.

It almost was just like, it was written in the cards for me and I was just following those cards. Um, so yeah, usually, like you said, it’s the other way around, it’s this big dream of owning the salon and like finally doing it where. It wasn’t like that for me. But now that I have one, I want ’em all. So , I guess now that switch turned on and now I want, you know, I have my vision of my 3, 5, 10 year goals and more salons are in the picture.

So that’s it’s yeah. Funny how that happens. That’s great. So what’s something, what’s something that this job or your position with this job, you know, being a, a business owner. Has taught you that you think that everyone should learn at some point in their life or in their career? Sure. I, I feel like. One of the things that is plays a huge role in the success of a business just in life in general is structure and systems.

And having those things kind of set in place so that everything can run smoothly, uh, and even down to your daily life. So I’m doing some coaching now with a coach and part of that. This is supposed to be, you know, business coaching as you know, um, and part of it is just life coaching and how that life coaching can now come into my business and change my business.

Just things such as a morning, routine of waking up a little bit earlier, making my bed, doing a little bit of getting your blood pumping and then. Journaling, you know, and that can, is just my structure and my system. And then taking that type of, um, habitual process and bringing it into your business and instilling that in your employees, it, it kind of comes full circle.

So I think just having clear set structure and systems can be beneficial for anybody, not just business owners, just everybody’s daily life. That’s great. So this is not part of my  that’s yeah. Pre my pre um, do you do any type of training, like leadership training or, um, management training with your crew?

Yeah. So we’re. We’re getting into that. Yes. So actually today I just had a meeting with my staff. Um, and we, my goal is to be a little bit more frequent with it. Um, but we at least try to have a meeting once a month and we go over, um, you know, numbers and things like that, but not just that, but personal development.

And today one of our questions was, you know, what’s your perfect. In an ideal world, what would your perfect week look like? Like what would you do every day? What would your work schedule be like and what would you make at the end of that week? And then we kind of dissect it is into how are we gonna get there?

Um, you know, things like that. And I haven’t quite gotten to the management training yet, cuz the salon where I’m at is only two chairs and I only have really two, I have four employees. Two of them are more solid looking for growth employees. Um, but we are potentially going to be opening a second location in the very near future.

So I am going to need that management training because I can’t be at two places at once. So it’s definitely something that I know is gonna be coming up kind of fast and furious to where I’m gonna need these management training. So these girls know how to manage when I’m not there. , that’s great. That’s really exciting.

Yeah. Cool. Um, what do you think for your industry? What do you think is the most important kind of personality, trait or strength that somebody would need to be successful confidence? Um, and I, I know that’s hard. Uh, confidence does not come easy for a lot of people. Uh, That is the number one struggle that I see in my stylist that, that maybe aren’t doing as well as they’ve hoped.

Um, and it’s because especially, um, in a business where you’re dealing with the public and a lot of different people, um, there’s a lot of different personalities that you’re managing and you’re trying to. Fit in with, so you kind of have to be a chameleon in a sense and work well with all these people.

But in the end, if you don’t have confidence, those. That’s gonna really hinder your growth because people sense that and they either don’t wanna come back to you cuz they feel like you’re, you’re not, you’re unsure of yourself or they try to take control of the appointment and then you’re not happy with yourself because you weren’t able to give them your full potential.

So I definitely feel like in this industry, confidence is key to, to success. That’s great. So I just kind of started thinking about how you were, you said that you opened like a year and a half ago. So you did this like mid pandemic while all the salons in the, in the country were shut down and things.

How pretty close. Yeah. Pretty close to the pandemic. You know, I almost had no choice, right? Like we definitely opened up in a time where there was still strict rules and regulations, masks, social distancing, no, no snacks, no drinks. Uh, so it was very hard to be able to give my clients the full experience.

That I am used to providing my regular clients, obviously knew how things were before COVID so for them, but for new clients, it was really difficult. So we definitely had to try to figure out ways to go above and beyond so that they could kind of get that. The feel and the vibe that we like to offer, but it was hard.

Like, I couldn’t see these people’s faces. They can’t see my face. It definitely was a struggle. Uh, but we were luckily able to kind of push through. And I do think that one thing that helped us is the fact that we’re a smaller salon mm-hmm  so a lot of customers and clients felt really comfortable with the fact.

There was never gonna be more than four people maximum in the salon at a time. Sure. So it didn’t feel like, oh my gosh, like I’m in a salon with 15 people. Like this is crazy. Yeah. So, um, that definitely, I think was a, a big factor and, and helping us grow through COVID that’s really interesting. And I’m from Michigan.

So we had really, really strict rules.  um, you probably heard about us on  on the news and things, you know, there were protests and all sorts of things cuz they completely shut it down. Totally, totally. Shut it down here. And it’s just, I had another friend that opened through this. Deal. And it just amazes me, you know, it’s just more power to you.

Kudos.  thank you. Yeah. The one thing I will say about COVID was people did not care. They still wanted their hair done. Like that was, yeah, that was one thing that people were like, I am willing to get sick as long as my roots. Aren’t great. So that is one thing that, uh, we definitely are lucky with, with the hair salon.

That’s funny. My husband, we were home for like seven weeks with the way that our industries were shut down. Mm-hmm  and he, I don’t cut his hair. Ever, and he finally let me do it and he has never let me do it again. So  that salons are open again.  the salons open back up again. Cause that could be bad. Yeah.

Yeah. He’s like, mm, I love you. But no, , you’re not my hairstylist anymore. Yeah. That’s yeah. So what, what about like a common rumor? I’m sure that you have heard some rumors about hairstylists. What’s something that you can clear the air. Oh a hundred percent. So like my biggest, uh, pet peeve, I, I guess I should say with hairstylists is, uh, they they’re ditzy and stupid, right?

Like that’s like, you know, you’d see like the memes of them, like blowing bubble gum wall, you know, just like kind of like dopey, I guess. Um, so that was one of the main. Pushes behind my salon name. Like there was a lot of reasons why I chose the name volition. Um, but one of them was, is I wanted a, a name that was more sophisticated and educated because doing hair, isn’t just, you know, cutting and curling, you know, there’s a lot of chemistry behind it and you have to be really knowledgeable about.

A lot of things where you could really mess up somebody’s hair, um, there’s lawsuits all the time of which again, I guess this doesn’t improve my case very well  but, uh, but there are some instances, you know, that you can really do bad things. So I, I just feel like all hair stylists get that reputation of just kind of being, uh, dizzy and dumb.

And I, and I really like my goal is to show. The world that like, we aren’t all like that way. Like a lot of us actually are really. Educated and we know our stuff and we are, um, more than that. So I guess like, that’s the, the one thing that I wish could be cleared up a little bit, you know, it’s not just fluff and, you know, glamor it’s, it’s also, um, sophistication mm-hmm  and I think our generation is kind of changing that image a little.

I think that that was really, really heavy, like in our parents generation. Sure. And it seems like, it seems like there’s a lot of people with that same mindset that are trying to shift the way that it looks thankfully. Yeah. Because that’s something that you it’s just ingrained in people’s minds that that’s it, you know, and.

As a business person. I know that that’s not true. I know that that’s you don’t just come in and pick up a wand and know what you’re doing. You have to go to school, you have to study, you have to train, you know? Yeah. It’s neat. I’m, I’m excited to see things changing in that manner. Me too, me too. And I do see a shift a hundred percent.

I, I see more respect coming to the industry, uh, you know, slowly but surely, um, And, and almost, I feel like they put a little bit of a light to that because of how much people realized, like not, were we just there gray coverage where there therapy and where they’re, you know, so much more. And like, that’s the one thing that people wanted to open up so bad regardless of, you know, what was happening.

So I think that shed a little light of how important we actually are in a lot of people’s lives. Yeah, no, I agree. And especially in like minority communities, mm-hmm,  where. They go the way that they get a hair hair do done or have their hair worked on is totally different than how I would. Mm-hmm , it’s an all day thing sometimes for them.

And it. You bring your family, you’re there all day long. You get to know each other way more in depth than I would just coming and sitting in your seat for an hour, you know, it’s hundred percent it’s culture shift. Yeah. A hundred percent. Yeah, it is. So it’s definitely, it’s been great to kind of see that start to shift.

That’s. So what’s something in your business that ha that’s happened that you didn’t expect, like in your salon as something happened that you weren’t prepared for? That’s a good question. Um, that I wasn’t prepared for just in general, maybe. Is that what you like? Yeah. Just in regards to everything. Um, I think the biggest thing for me that I wasn’t expecting, um, Was how detailed it really is to, to run a business behind the scenes.

Um, again, not that like, I think a lot of the time, oh, I’ll just go open up my own salon. Like I’m doing great anyways. So like why can’t I do it all for my myself. Right? Sure. Um, but I think that what I wasn’t expecting was like the numbers behind it all and. The formulas and the finding out how much, like you have to in order to make sure that you’re actually going to be profitable.

You need to know how much does it cost me to be opened down to the minute, like, right. Are my expenses too high? What percentage should my wages be to my revenue? Like there’s a lot behind there. Yeah. So like for the first kind of like. 10 months, 12 months. I was just kind of like coasting, you know, like, okay, this seems like it’s working, we’re doing well, we’re busy.

Like things are great. Um, but then like, especially as I start to look into a second location, like, okay, well I really need to get, get a hold on this. And like yeah. Figure it all out. And that, I guess, I was not expecting, I was just expecting it to keep just running, you know, smoothly. So that was one thing that kind of surprised me how in depth you need to get to really, truly understand like the business side of it versus just the styling side of it.

Yeah. That’s a good answer.  yeah. I, I, I don’t have any other like crazy surprises luckily, right? Yeah. Like I guess everything else has been, you know, definitely. I guess another thing would be how hard it is to find staff. I feel like a lot of people yeah. Are, are feeling that struggle, um, of, of staffing issues.

Um, but other than that, there’s been no other like crazy. Curves throw my way yet. Yeah. Knock that’s good. Right, right. Yeah. Was there anything additional that you would want our listeners to know about you or your business? Uh, sure. I mean, my thing really that I want to like part of like my whole volition, my, my vibe, my feelings that I like to bring, like to.

My clients to my staff is just that I feel like a lot of people think, oh, it can’t be me. Like I can’t do that. Or, um, and I just want everybody to know that, like, if you truly believe you can do it, you know, you can do it. And I, I think not enough people have that in themselves. You know, obviously some things will take work, but if you set your mind to something.

Then you can do it like as long as you, you truly believe it. And I feel like that’s the type of, you know, volition means the power of one’s free will, you know, by your own volition. So just make the choice and do it like five years is gonna come no matter what, like you can’t stop that. So like, if there’s something you wanna do, why not spend the next five years?

Trying to do it versus just thinking about it, you know, it’s gonna come whether you wanted to or not. Right. So make it worth it. Yeah. No, that’s great. That’s great. Where can our listeners find you online? Thank you. Yeah, so we are on. Facebook at salon volition on Facebook. We are on Instagram as well at salon dot volition.

And we are on TikTok, uh, at, and our TikTok So just look for salon volition, and you’ll find us everywhere. Awesome. Yeah. All over the place. Great. Well, thank you so much. I will link all of your. All of your links. I’ll put those in the comments and make them available for any listeners.

Um, I appreciate your time today. Thank you so much, Emily. And I appreciate you having me here again. It was a pleasure and I love being able to share with everyone. Yeah. Awesome.

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