Retail 101 - Interview with Design Essentials Educator and BET's Sunday Best Hairstylist Celeste Harris

We’ve all heard the saying “work smart and not hard” nothing could be all the more true for personal appearance workers (especially hairstylists) who spend long days on their feet, or hunched over uncomfortable positions. Should stylists just resign themselves to the school of thought that "It's just the nature of the beast"? How can stylists increase their revenues while decreasing their hours behind the chair? Better yet -- how can stylists maintain a steady income when the economic climate has forced many of their clients to cut salon visits and take matters into their own hands playing “kitchen beautician” with their own tresses?

I went to Celeste Harris Educator for McBride Research Laboratories (the makers of Design Essentials Professional Hair Care), Salon owner and member of the Design Essentials Styling Team for BET’s Sunday Best, to get the answers.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Celeste, thank you for taking time to answer some very important questions for our readers. Open any trade publication and you’re bound to find at least one article on the topic of the importance of retailing. However, there are plenty stylists who will admit to being afraid to retail out of fear of coming off as pushy while others are fearful that if they sell their clients products and tools that the clients won’t return to the salon as frequently if at all. What are your thoughts on that and why as a stylist do you think it’s important to retail?

Celeste Harris: There are only so many working hours in a day at some point you reach your earning threshold, the only way to surpass that is by retailing. Also, standing all day, day in and day is can be very taxing on the body, it is important that we preserve our health. Retailing is the difference between having to work a 10 to 12 hour day versus a 6 to 8 hour day to meet your financial obligations.

A lot of people are fearful of the unknown, if they’ve never tried retailing or they’ve never taken a retailing class they don’t really know how to sell and therefore don’t really understand how retailing can help to grow their business not hurt it. They don't know what to expect. The client is going to buy hair care products and tools from somewhere, so why shouldn’t they be purchasing them from their stylist where they can get the proper education on how to use them?

Here’s a good example, I had a client call because she wouldn’t be able to make her regular appointment but she wanted to come in and purchase some product from me… well she purchased about $60.00 worth of product roughly the same amount she would have paid for me to style her hair. So, technically I still made my money that week, if I didn’t have products to retail that would not have been possible.

When you’re retailing to your client you are also educating them, you’re using technical terms and you’re discussing product ingredients and how they are beneficial to their specific hair care needs. They begin to see you as an expert, as a stylist this raises your level of expertise and you gain more respect, they began to see the "sale" as you assisting them with their healthy hair care needs, not simply pushing a product.

Stylists don’t really get the level of respect that we should for what we do, so it is important for us to continue to educate ourselves. Also, let your clients know that you’re taking classes to learn new techniques and technology not only will they trust you more but they will also refer others to you.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! How did you get started with Design Essentials and why did you choose their brand over all of the other brands on the market?

Celeste Harris: In the hair salon you have people coming in trying to sell you things all the time. The distributor for Design Essentials came in with education to support the products, along with pamphlets and written material. I’m big on education so that definitely was a draw for me.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! How long have you been with Design Essentials?

Celeste Harris: For 9 years now and I love it, I love the products, I love teaching the classes and traveling is nice too.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! How has design essentials been beneficial to your career?

It has allowed me to break down barriers and meet people and go places, and garner respect within the industry. Like Sunday Best, I did that with the Design Essentials team.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! How would partnering with Design Essentials as a stockist benefit an independent who’s either a freelancer or booth renter who thinks that possibly they couldn’t afford to stock a product line especially in this economy?

As I mentioned before, your clients are buying products from somewhere, so you can’t afford not to retail. It doesn’t take much, you’re not required to buy a ton of product -- you can buy what you can afford. For example lets say you start with only one retail styling item that you purchase for $5.00 and you sell it for $10.00 well if you sell 3 of those, that’s $30.00 you now have enough to buy 6 and once you sell that 6 you’d have enough to buy 12. You start that way and eventually you’ll find that your retail will pay for your back bar (the product that you use). I don’t purchase my product out of the money I make doing services, my retail pays for that.

It’s really not that difficult to do, you show your client the product that you used on their hair, explain the product benefits and then show them how to use it. Design Essentials is a professional product they won’t find it at the local beauty supply so you’re not competing with them. Your distributor is a great asset to you. They’re the ones that hold product retailing classes in addition to selling more services like color to your client to increase your ticket price. With some of the classes you can even earn CEU hours so you’re doing something to grow your business and fulfill your licensure obligations at the same time, you can’t beat that!

For more information on Design Essentials or to find a distributor in your area call Toll Free: 800.535.8683 or visit their website.

For more information or to contact Celeste regarding beauty business classes visit her website.

Ciao for now… Class is Dismissed!

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