Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the choice (and expense) of hairdressing/beauty services in NYC, we (well, Shannon) experienced a journey of tears; DIY hair (which can be awesome if done right!); and finally a relentless online search that led to hairdresser Brandy Butchek.
It’s a familiar experience for any woman; as beauty is so emotional and personal. But what was interesting about finding Brandy was the journey that got us there and what it illustrated about how small businesses need to balance both the digital and personal in approach. It’s not enough to just do one thing or the other; any service provider needs to be both digitally savvy and community oriented.
The Hairdressing Search Begins…
Shannon searched relentlessly via every search term available related to ‘best’, ‘blond’ and ‘doesn’t break the bank’ (and anyone who knows Shannon…it was private-investigator-level searching) How often do you feel ‘so sure’ that you are missing something and spend hours down the rabbit hole of Google and social media. For us…it’s often. But in this last search the first link didn’t specifically mention Brandy…but as a practioner with a high-quality, easy-to-find website they linked to her.
Regarless of industry, it’s so important that every professional focus on owning and cultivating their own personal brand. For beauty professionals, whether part of a large salon, or as a smaller independent practitioner, users are looking for you. Our search produced few hair professionals with great websites; terrific reviews; solid, authentic social presence; and a simple way to get touch. It seems so elemental, but if you give it a try you’ll see what we mean; there is a gap.
Having reached out for an appointment… Brandy emailed and texted a few times to ensure she understood what we were looking for so she could be prepared. Not exactly ground-breaking, right? But a wonderfully personal way to build a client relationship from the start.
Brandy’s Beauty Path
Building a client base where you have an authentic relationship and generate word-of-mouth referrals is the next most important step to growing any business. So we wanted to share a bit more about Brandy’s hairdressing path; career journey; and tips she’s learned along the way.
What has your career path looked like?
I attended the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis at 21 years old; not sure what I wanted to do career-wise… and ended up loving it. After getting my licence, I did an advanced training program at a prestigious salon in the city. Eight years later I moved to NYC and within a couple years I became an educator for Sebastian. In 2011, I stepped away from educating and put my focus on becoming an independent contractor and started renting a chair. I’m currently at Prince and Broad Salon in SoHo where I continue to build my clientele and work with some of the best stylists in the city.
What has been unexpected along the way?
Although moving altogether wasn’t unexpected I didn’t think I would end up in NYC. But I am so grateful to have found myself here. I love this city and have been here for 11 years now. The unfortunate unexpected along the way was the realization of how transient a city NYC is…which means my clientele, save for a few die hards, is in constant flux.
How do you promote your business?
By far, I have found word-of-mouth to be the most powerful tool to generate referrals. I also offer a discount to first time clients who are referred and to the person who referred them. I need to take advantage of the social media aspect of growing my business but it’s hard to work that into a day with a family and work.
Generally how do new customers find you?
Again, word of mouth has been key. By having great relationships with my long-time clients, they both remain loyal and keep referring their friends. It’s a great feeling knowing that people feel taken care of by you in a city where you can choose any beauty professional in a split second.
I’ve also been lucky to make it into some key blog posts. There’s something special about knowing people are saying good things about your work and sharing it with the world. It feels good, but it’s also just a powerful and valuable marketing tool.
What’s different about your approach to running a hairdressing business?
Honesty, consistency and, most of all, authenic communication. I take pride in my consultations and make absolutely sure we are on the same page about cuts and color – before I begin.
I like to use pictures because it’s the easiest way to communicate: ‘Point and say yes or no!’ It’s not easy to “speak the language” of something you are not trained in; so customers need direction and tools to identify what they want. It is my job to decode. So I like to look at images together and discuss the approach and ability to get them their desired result.