Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal grooming but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Toby Hirsch, owner, and founder of Do the Bang Thing Salon, located in Littleton, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Do the Bang Thing Salon is a hair salon that I founded, owned, and operated for the last 11 years. Do the Bang Thing Salon is Denver's Premier Color House and home of the "Love Your Hair GUARANTEED®." We pride ourselves in not only serving our guests but our community as well. Donating to Girls Inc. of Metro Denver since 2018, raising over $13,000, and hosting events like our Veteran's Day Cut-a-thon, where we offer free haircuts to all veterans and their families. Building confidence in our guests and community makes us feel great inside and out, which is what we hope each life we encounter feels once they have spent time with us. Our slogan, #Doconfident #Doyou #Dothebangthing
Tell us about yourself
I started in the beauty industry before I could even start beauty school. Growing up with family friends with salons, I was introduced at a very young age. I remember when I was visiting one, I noticed everyone seems happy. They dressed nicely and seemed to travel a lot. It seemed glamorous and fun; who wouldn't want to work in an environment like that?
Once I entered high school, I found out that Cosmetology was offered as a vocational program. By 18, I had my license, my high school diploma, and an assistant position at a high-end salon in Highlands Ranch.
From there, I worked in a variety of positions within the industry, from high-end salons, nail tech, Great Clips, management, and even an admission counselor at a beauty school. Ultimately I wanted to own my own salon, as most stylists do, and thus Do the Bang Thing Salon was born.
I started out as a home studio doing a few guests a week into buying a building in 2021 and converting it from a car garage to a salon. There were a few stops before my current location and a lot of heartaches, but I've learned that the harder road usually ends in a better place.
My artists are all employees, and we are a Team-Based Salon offering hourly wages plus benefits. Team-Based pay is to encourage the absence of the competition of commission and make sure we are there for our guests, not ourselves. It is freeing for guests to know they can book with any artist at any time. It is what is convenient for them. Benefits include PTO, Sick Leave, 401Ks, Paid Holidays, Net Profit Sharing, Holiday Bonuses, and other fringe benefits. Next to come will be health insurance.
My main motivation is to franchise this better way of doing business and reinventing how salons work. I will create systems and structures to ensure long-term guests and staff. Teach others how to do what I have done without the major trips and mistakes most entrepreneurs have to learn. Even better if you grow within my company to fast track yourself to success and owning your own salon. I will coach as much or as little as a franchisee will need. I am very excited to work on these systems over the next year.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think my biggest accomplishments are the amazing team I have cultivated and the purchase of my first building. Both go hand in hand, and not one without the other.
After many different pay structures over many years of owning my salon, I finally found one that works both for myself and even more so for my team. Having them feel confident that they are being taken care of, whether they are behind the chair or working on something else and building a career, is very important to me. I am a single mother of 2 teenagers, so security is VERY important to me. Trying to plan for the future, take vacations, and set myself up long-term is hard in the beauty industry. So employees having the same obstacles and goals makes my company appealing. The longer you are with my company and help it grow, the more it gives back to you.
Purchasing my first building this past year was such an amazing opportunity for not just my business but for my family as well. As I mentioned, I am a single mother of 2. With no retirement plan up until recently, I was facing a lot of realities of what my future held. Divorce, COVID-19 shut down/limitations, loss of staff scared of illness, and a landlord that wouldn't give me any sort of break, things looked bleak. However, with a strong management team hard, hard, hard work, long weeks, awesome community support, and friends and family, it all paid off. January of 2021, I started the process of looking for another place to lease but ended up buying. Many factors went into this, of course, and it was a very difficult and stressful process, but I am very happy I was able to do it. I am truly blessed to be in the position I am in only 18 months after the both my personal and outside world changed.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
To run towards change and fear as opposed to running from it. "One of the greatest discoveries a person makes, one of their great surprises, is to find they can do what they were afraid they couldn't do." - Henry Ford.
So many times, I have been told what I could and couldn't do. As a woman, as a mother, as a wife, and as an employee. I have even NOT had a choice, and they were made for me. When the choices were good, they were good, maybe even great. When they were bad, they taught me lessons. I grew stronger and wiser. So I lean, lean into the fear and change, and it may hurt a little, or I may need a second glass of wine, but I lean.
One of the first leans was just to start a business. Just go for it; what is the worst that could happen? You fail, you lose some money, people ask what happened? Yeah, those are all scary. But what if, what if you fail and learn? That is fear and change; run into it. Learn or lean into what other ways or options there are. What if you find your own voice as I did. What if you see what isn't working and find better ways. Even if you have to lose some people or ideas, if you see there is a better way of doing it, as terrifying as it is, it runs.
Now, when someone asks me if I want to do something and it strikes fear, I really look hard at it. When I was asked if I wanted to buy a building as opposed to leasing. My heart sank; I've looked into it. I have the money for a downpayment, but not buildout. It was COVID; I just got a divorce; I didn't know if I was going to get shut down again. I had some savings but not what I needed. "How?" I asked. Well, the options were presented to me, and I didn't have a lot of time to think. I was scared, and it wasn't anything I thought was possible. I've never even bought a house without someone else. "Okay, I'm going to own a building!" Six months later, I did. And when you ask me about it, it is my first one, because I will own more. It will be another scary spur-of-the-moment decision, but I'll run into it.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Have a plan, a mentor, and a sense of humor. A plan, a map, a dream board, whatever it is that you need to visualize what you want in the end. If you don't know what you want, how will you know where to go? I did not have a map or a plan at first. I thought this was just how I saw it done, I blindly followed others, and I ended up almost shutting everything down and running away. I didn't learn about money and managing a business; I was a hairstylist. You cut hair, you take money, you pay bills, and you eventually have enough left over to do what you want. WRONG! Taxes, advertising, employees leave and take guests, your salon floods, you get sick. Have a plan, have savings, have support.
Have a mentor or have many. We all need support and someone with experience beyond ours when things get tough. We also need someone to share our victories with, even if it is lowering our credit card fees. They come in all ways, but trust me, seeing things through someone else's perspective, whether you take it or not, is valuable past ego.
Humor, it's freaking funny. That power outage caused by a drunk driver, that crazy guest that ate your whole charcuterie board and then wanted a refund for being a model for a perm class, that random refund for thirty-nine cents, and even that employee that asked to speak to your husband at the time when she was getting fired for being 2 hours late (all random scenarios of course), it's freaking funny. Laugh; it's only one moment in time and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Life is hard and crazy, but it doesn't have to be serious all the time.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Just to know that there will be days, weeks even, that you question everything. That sometimes, it is surreal when you walk into your business and see what you have built. That things, including people, will change. We are where we are when we need to be, and sometimes that ends. Think before you react; emotions are to be felt, not dealt with. Always have a bottle of wine chilled. Use sunscreen. Sit in the front row and go first in any presentation. Laugh all the time.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.