Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Frankie Sanderson, Owner of TheStudeo, located in Washington, D.C., USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I own TheStudeo in Washington, DC. TheStudeo is a low-pressure, high-end salon that specializes in hair extensions, hair replacement for men and women, blondes, color corrections, and anything particularly difficult. My customers are men and women from all over the country, and some even outside of the country, who need specialized care for their hair loss or their hair color.
Tell us about yourself
Ever since college, I have been involved in the beauty industry, whether doing makeup freelance or working behind the counter at Sephora or MAC. Eventually, I was found by Wilhelmina’s modeling agency. I signed with them and worked with them for a while, and then went to a hair school after college while still doing makeup. I got into hair because I found I was always learning something new, and the ability to change someone’s appearance within a few minutes to an hour or more really made an impact not only on my customer’s life but on myself. I got into hair extensions because I was able to give people links or volume or both where they could never have it before, and then I started getting into hair replacement because that was just the next logical phase of this journey of mine.
To be able to give someone hair that does not have it from either alopecia or cancer or just natural thinning of the hair was hugely profound and was a very emotional thing for me to be able to give to my clients. There are such high expectations expected for those types of services, and to be able to give someone back their confidence is truly magic, in my opinion. What motivates me every day is being able to get off and spend time with my dogs, who are my children, and to go to work and create new beautiful pieces of wearable art for my clients every day. For some people, this is a really life-changing thing I’m doing for them.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is being able to survive it, lol. It’s really difficult. Some days are really wonderful, easy, and work in your favor, and there are other days when you feel like you’re gonna pull every last hair up on your head. My biggest accomplishment is to be able to stay open for as long as I have and maintain excellent reviews and customer satisfaction, as well as customer retention. It’s really a very difficult balance to strike, and I think I’m starting to figure it out.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the most difficult things about being a business owner is that you have to manage multiple personalities, emotions, and expectations. It comes with a lot of responsibilities like training people, grooming them, and helping them even in their personal life sometimes. Even though it’s professional, people still get personal with you, and it’s really hard to separate the two, especially if you’re an empath which most hairstylists are, I believe. But managing people, I would say, would be the most difficult.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do a lot of soul-searching to find out if this is really what you want, which would mean speaking to a mentor or another hair salon owner to find out what it’s really like or maybe shadowing someone in the industry so you have a clear understanding of how things actually work.
- Hire slowly and fire quickly. There are many types of personalities out there, and you have to figure out who’s gonna work well with you and who does not come with emotional intelligence. Not everyone has it, and you have to know how to navigate all those people, personalities, and expectations.
- Make sure you have enough money saved up in your emergency funds for up to six months. If something goes wrong or you have slow months, you have money that is sitting in your account that will handle your credit card bills, all of your overhead, your employment responsibilities, etc.
- Make sure you get a good accountant.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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