Session Salon KC is owned and operated by L’Oreal Professionnel National Educator, Hollie Haskins. Holding herself and her team to the highest standard, together they have built a salon that is changing the salon industry as we know it. In this interview, Hollie sits down to discuss leadership, teamwork, and risk-taking.
Session Salon prides itself on creative collaboration. Why did you choose to open a team-based salon over being an independent stylist?
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but I also really enjoyed working for other companies and with other teams. So, I have never been the type of person who wanted to do it alone.
As I got closer to taking a leap of faith while deciding to open a salon, I knew I wanted it to be team-based because that’s what really fills my cup and what got me here.
I truly believe mentoring and growing young stylists is my purpose in this industry.
Hollie’s background in education and training hundreds of hairstylists and close to a dozen associates helped boost her confidence and ultimately led her to take a leap of faith to open her own salon.
I got this idea in my head. It really just seemed like the right time to put it all together. – but is there ever really a right time? No. You just have to take a risk and go for it. I’m the type of person that when it’s my time to go I want to know I gave it everything I had.
What is your business philosophy, and how did you get the confidence to “go for it”?
I have surrounded myself with a lot of incredible people who have helped me in so many different ways. They helped point me in the right direction and connect me with the right people. I’ve never been afraid to ask questions to people I see as valuable or more successful than me. I truly want to surround myself with people who are further ahead in their lives and careers than I am. I always keep an open mind and see myself as a forever student.
What are the perks of operating and working for a collaborative salon like yours?
I think the longevity, sustainability, and benefits we can provide being team-based significantly outweigh just working for yourself as a solo, independent stylist. This way, we can offer things like a 401k, supplemental health insurance, and paid vacation. We bring in quarterly education for all of our stylists and we host monthly education classes for our associates and level ones. This year we are sending 2 stylists to the L’Oréal Professionnel Academy in NYC!
Session Salon equips stylists with everything they need to succeed. From continuing, education, a fully stocked back bar. This allows the stylists to be relieved of worrying about inventory, bookkeeping, and taxes, making more time for their clients and the things they love.
Our stylists have the opportunity to come in and just do what they love without worry. So, I am really passionate about being team-based, and I love leading this team. I live by the quote, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Session Salon always takes into consideration the client experience. Their space is full of vibrant energy radiating from an enthusiastic team.
What is it like to start a business during covid?
Covid was an interesting time because people felt for us and wanted to help us. So we used social media to continue sharing what we were up to, how we were making the most of every situation, and also to show that we were taking the pandemic seriously and were being safe.
There were a lot of pros of opening during Covid because people were more generous and sympathetic than ever, but there were also the struggles of people not going to places because they didn’t find it worth the risk of potentially getting sick. So, we had our fair share of pros and cons of opening during Covid, but going back, I wouldn’t change a thing.
How do you juggle being an entrepreneur, stylist, and educator?
Being a hairstylist, educator, and salon owner means I wear a lot of different hats, but I believe that makes me somewhat of a triple threat. Wearing all the hats allows me to gain experience and grow so I can help mentor and grow stylists in all different areas. Having my hands in each of those pots allows me to understand from a stylist’s perspective and educate from an artist’s perspective.
Being the salon owner, I get to put my business-savvy mindset, marketing strategies, and creativity into play. Being all three is not easy, and I wouldn’t be able to do it without an incredible team. So, I try to make sure I am generous, understanding, and supportive of my team because, without them, I am nothing.
Who are some of the key leaders in the salon right now?
Haley Rapp is our education coordinator. She also does our inventory and leads monthly personal development meetings with our associates and level ones. She has a really generous heart and is a phenomenal educator; we are so lucky to have her.
Madison Jacobs is the bridal director, so she handles all the email inquiries from brides and helps them set up, and she helps take that off of my hands. She is really passionate about bridal hair and makeup and truly enjoys being a part of their special day!
Christine Doerge has been in the industry for over ten years and is also a L’Oreal Professional educator. She was trained elsewhere and came in and had much to give to our team. She has a lot to give and is always willing to share with the younger stylists.
Check out the rest of the Session Salon Team!
What does it mean to be a strong leader in the salon atmosphere?
Being a strong leader means not being selfish; it means having a generous heart, wanting to educate, and wanting to help even when you are done early or you don’t have anything at the beginning of your day.
We’re looking for people to go above and beyond, genuinely wanting to help the team grow.
What is your management philosophy?
Hollie’s philosophy on management is inspired by the quote, “manage systems, not people.” She believes in having well-thought-out systems in place, so there is no need for micromanagement.
People do want to be given instructions, so I try to be clear and simple with my instructions. People want to feel led. They want to know where they are going next and what’s coming up next. So, communication is key.
What advice would you give others who want to become entrepreneurs?
For anybody looking to open a business, don’t wait for the right time. Just do it. That doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your job tomorrow, but start putting in the work and figuring out what steps you need to take first.
Don’t wait for the right time or even the right amount of money. That risk you take might just get you that money you’ve been waiting for the even start the business. It doesn’t always work, but you gotta dig down deep and put the work in.
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek” – Joseph Campbell
Hollie finishes with three words to live by gratitude, grit, and grace.
With 1700 sq ft. of hair perfection located in the Woodside Village North Shopping Center (next to Blue Sushi) we have 15+ stylists ready to pamper you! If you’ve never been inside our salon, let us paint you a picture. You walk into our beautiful salon space and are immediately graced with a vibrant energy that is light, bright, and full of charm. Your eyes will immediately notice the malachite wallpaper, the beautiful florals, and smiling stylists; the warm energy is good, and you feel included and welcomed (without even talking to anyone yet). Sound like something you’d enjoy? Keep reading!
It was important to us to have a space that was not only beautiful, but one that didn’t feel “too fancy”; one that had a nice balance of luxury and charm but never came across as pretentious. We are all about the good vibes here and forever will hold that in our hearts. You’ll see every kind of human in here from entrepreneurs, teachers, college students, doctors, lawyers, LGBTQ, POC, and everyone in between because that’s how we roll – we welcome everyone and always will. We treat everyone with respect and always appreciate that back in return. Our stylists are incredibly friendly, ridiculously talented, and have all kinds of different skill sets; we truly have something to offer to everyone.
Session Salon opened in June of 2020 while facing the global pandemic of Covid-19 and damn was that a pivotal moment for our business. We had a lot of fear surrounding the unknown, tons of regulations to adhere to, and hard decisions to make on behalf of our staff and clientele. What was a salon that just opened their doors to do? Get gritty. We’re talking sleeves up, dirt under our nails, ready to get to work, gritty. We developed so much depth and character from such an uncertain time. We were doing everything we could just to keep the lights on, pay our employees and stay open. We didn’t care if we had to wear masks, take temperatures – we were willing to do whatever it took to keep our staff and clients safe while trying not to get into the politics that came along with such an unprecedented time. We’d rather be safe than sorry, ya hear?
When we first opened, we had little capital to our name so we were budgeting every month just to stay in the green. Before we knew it we quickly started to grow as a company allowing us to slowly add some of the furniture, hair pieces, and retail that had been on our wish list since before we opened. This past June we finalized the renovations to our building and we are thrilled with how it turned out! It’s fun to see our company and stylists grow so that they can start purchasing homes, cars, or even just moving out on their own! Things are better than ever here at Session Salon (just imagine us having a virtual dance party celebrating right now because we totally are.)
Here at Session Salon, we have so many things to be excited about, we now offer a new list of specialty services including, a Mizani haircut for curly hair, different braid and twist techniques, smoothing treatments, and extensions! It’s not just balayage and blending any more folks (can we get an amen)! We also are very proud of the fact that we have these services at different price points and skill levels to give you the best experience possible. Value is everything to us!
Alright, so let’s talk about the Kacey Welch Method! Kacey Welch, herself just came to our salon, which is a huge deal because she is a celebrity hairstylist who created this line of extensions for Kate Hudson. Why? Kate didn’t have 4 hours to spend sitting in the salon getting extensions done so she wanted her stylist to come up with a solution. At Session Salon, we exclusively carry The Kacey Welch Method. We find it super important to only partner with brands that have the absolute best products and support us with education, incentives, and the best customer service. Not only does Kacey Welch have a huge celebrity clientele but she truly has the best hair on the planet (imagine each hair machine sewed to a piece of silk, almost as if your extensions are permanently sleeping on a silk pillowcase, which helps keep them from shedding and allowing you to get more value out of the hair! Lasting you up to 12+ months!) We then hand sew them onto a beaded row!! And the great news is we have ten amazing stylists here at Session who are certified and offer different price points, again allowing us to work with your budget!
Next! Curl Expression by L’Oreal Professionnel; Moisture, richness, texture, oh my! When using Curl Expression you will notice your curls are 2X more conditioned, 11x more definition, and 48-hour frizz protection! This line supports every curl pattern from a 2A to a 4C (or 2-8 depending on which chart you use!) Needless to say, we are obsessed with Curl Expression here at Session (did that rhyme?!)
The last thing we want to touch on that sets us apart is our Associate Program. We love to hire recent cosmetology school students, take them under our wing and give them the tools to help them fly! Our associate program is about 6-9 months, in that time we mentor these young stylists on their skills, technique, emotional intelligence, social media, and best business practices. We love getting the opportunity to expedite the process and show our young stylists they can have a wildly successful career in the beauty industry while also having a nice work-life balance. Want to join our team or know someone who is looking for a new salon? Send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org – we would love to meet you!
Bottom line is, we are proud of our diverse offerings in services, skill sets, and price points. So step into our salon and feel the most vibrant energy you’ll find out of any salon here in KC, and we promise you’ll love your time here at Session! We value our customers more than anything and want you to come as you are and leave feeling like the best version of yourself. In the 1-3 hours you’re with us, you’ll feel valued, listened to, and heard while walking away looking beautiful and feeling refreshed.
Last but definitely not least we want to make sure you get the home care required to maintain the look you love leaving the salon with! If you haven’t scheduled your next couple of appointments for the remainder of 2022 we highly encourage you to call us now or book online so you can receive a time and stylist who works best for you (check out their bios here on our website) We can’t wait to see you in the chair and thank you for choosing Session.