How 3 Salon Pros Are Navigating Inflation and Preparing For a Recession

01/04/2023

As much as we all would have liked to say goodbye to inflation in 2023, it’s looking like we’ll all be facing another year of skyrocketing prices, rising interest rates, and supply chain issues. For salon owners and stylists, this period of high inflation hasn’t been the easiest, especially taking into consideration how challenging the past few years have been for the salon industry as a whole. Who could forget about the ever-changing Covid-19 restrictions and forced salon closures that hair pros had to deal with constantly during the height of the pandemic? 

Thanks to inflation, which is an increase in the prices of goods and services over a period of time, salon pros are continuing to feel the impact of rising prices on everything from their salon services to the products needed for their day-to-day operations. And, many of them have had no choice but to get creative with their pricing strategy in order to stay afloat. With inflation continuing to be a pressing concern for the salon industry and a recession looming, The Tease reached out to three salon professionals to hear how they really feel about the rising rates and the effects that it’s having on their business. Ahead, these hairstylists talk about the craziest price increases they’ve seen, what they’re doing to stay afloat, and how they’re recession-proofing their business before the next recession hits.

Mackenzie Russon, (@hairby_kenziek)

Hairstylist and Educator

Location: Utah

Image Courtesy: Mackenzie Russon

On How She’s Feeling During This Period of Inflation: “I’m doing okay. Books are slowing down currently due to clients cutting back and holding off until the holidays. I know it will pick back up for the holidays, but it is super eerie to not know what’s in store for the future with this job as you never know if suddenly you’ll get slow or get slammed.”[Editor’s note: this interview took place before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.]

On Whether She Feels Anyone is Advocating for Salon Professionals During This Time: “No. A lot of people think hairstylists are here to make a quick buck when hair is not the same as it used to be 10+ years ago. It costs way more money to do services nowadays and it seems clients and people on the Internet think we are scammers because we do set our own prices. I do think people don’t take us seriously and don’t think we make money and that this is just a fun job or a job to get through college, but it is a career and it’s not expressed enough.”

On The Things She’s Doing to Save Money and Stay Afloat During This Period of Inflation: “ I’m not going to switch out my expensive lightener for a cheaper one to make some extra bucks. I have raised my prices, but I raised them due to being in my own salon suite, being an educator, having the following that I do, and a waitlist. So, I knew I had to raise them. However, with color costs, I will eat the cost because I still want to give the luxury colors I give. The only thing I have done to save money is, I get my foils and gloves at Costco now since those have gone up 50 percent in cost the past year.”

On Whether She’s Raised the Prices of Her Services: “Yes, but I also raised it due to my demand. My clients were understanding, and no one complained. If someone couldn’t afford it anymore, they just switched to someone else and did not notify me. And, that’s okay. When a client leaves, a new client that’s willing to pay will come.”

On Whether She’s Had to Get Creative With Service Offerings to Retain Her Clients: “Partial services, doing a smudge and tone, or just a money piece helps. But, lived-in, rooty hair color has been huge as well as having more of your natural color which helps clients not feel the need to come in so often. I often communicate with my clients on how often they have to come based on their inspo.”

On the “Craziest” Price Increase That She’s Seen for a Product: “Foils and gloves have gone up nearly 50 percent. When I started booth renting, Reynolds’ gloves were $14 and now they are $26. Obviously blow dryers, shears, and color have increased but the biggest jump is definitely the everyday items such as foils and gloves for sure.”

On How She’s Dealt With Supply Chain Issues: “I have been fine supply chain-wise. The brands I use have been on top of it thankfully and I usually stock up!”

On What She’s Doing to Recession-Proof Her Business and Prepare for the Future: “Recession-proof services such as lived-in hair. People are not going to want to get their color services done every 6-8 weeks for 200 bucks, so investing in a full highlight, lowlight mixtures and transitioning into a lived-in color can be expensive at first but lasts 6-12 months. People will always need to get their hair done. It’s iffy cause some clients are scared of the recession and some clients aren’t. I do social media influencing and education on the side as extra income just in case clients do take a step back due to costs.”

Lisa Dinh, (@lisathidinh)

Hairstylist, Educator, and Owner of Lisa Dinh Hair Studio

Location: Toronto, Canada

Image Courtesy: Lisa Dinh

On How She’s Feeling During This Period of Inflation: “Honestly, with the inflation and mortgage increase, it is a scary time for a lot of salon professionals and salon owners. Cost of living is getting expensive and we’re experiencing a slower season due to inflation and price increases. I’m feeling like a lot of salon owners will struggle during this time, but we need to learn to adapt. Just like we did with all the shutdowns.”

On Whether She Feels Anyone is Advocating for Salon Professionals During This Time: “I don’t feel like we have anyone advocating for salon professionals during this time. I’m trying my best as a salon owner to navigate these times and adapt, such as creating services that fit within client budgets during this time.”

On The Things She’s Doing to Save Money and Stay Afloat During This Period of Inflation: “Some things we are doing is cutting down on inventory to save on product cost. We had a team meeting recently on where we could save. Spending on products for the salon, we can definitely cut down to help us stay afloat during this high inflation time.”

On Whether She’s Raised the Prices of Her Services: “We are increasing our prices on services starting January 2023. We haven’t experienced any push back from clients yet but we’re expecting to have most of our clients understand and for the few that don’t, we can offer a solution with a “partial” service or within the client’s budget to help them feel more comfortable.”

On Whether She’s Had to Get Creative With Service Offerings to Retain Her Clients: “We have added a service to provide client’s that want to still get their hair done but at a budget. We offer a Face frame & toner option, as well as adding a service adding 10 foils for a re-fresh. This will help clients get back into the salon without feeling guilty spending during a time of inflation.”

On the “Craziest” Price Increase That She’s Seen for a Product: “The craziest price increase so far would be bleach and foils. Those are our main products we use in the salon everyday. I think all the products have gone up in price but more so the craziest price instead of product would be the mortgage increases. That was shocking, about a 6-7 percent mortgage increase.”

On How She’s Dealt With Supply Chain Issues: “We have dealt with a lot of supply and chain issues regarding backlog. All the products are delayed and have been back ordered for months. We try to adapt by providing the client with other options to purchase products or we adapt by using formulas to create or achieve the color we need.”

On What She’s Doing to Recession-Proof Her Business and Prepare for the Future: “I’m preparing by letting our team know that there is a recession happening and to take clients during busy seasons whenever we can so that during the slower periods, our team can withstand the slower times. I’m working on ways to bullet-proof our business by securing the mortgage with additional streams of income such as chair rental and airbnb. That way our salon, no matter a recession or closures, can remain open during these times of inflation and a recession.”

Stephanie Jackson, (@hairby.stephmarie)

Hairstylist and Suite Owner

Location: Michigan

Image Courtesy: Stephanie Jackson

On How She’s Feeling During This Period of Inflation: “I think everyone in every industry has dealt with major change through shutdowns and regulations. This time around with inflation, it obviously increases our expenses in most areas such as color, retail and backbar products, gloves, foils, and day-to-day supplies needed in the salon. It can be hard for new or experienced salon professionals to navigate all the price changes. I think the hope is that it will fluctuate back to the pricing we are all used to.”

On Whether She Feels Anyone is Advocating for Salon Professionals During This Time: “I feel like no matter what is said, inflation will not be compensated. During the Covid-19 shutdowns salon owners in the Michigan-area rose to have a say during the constant change in reopenings. Inflation now is inevitable, it feels like.”

On The Things She’s Doing to Save Money and Stay Afloat During This Period of Inflation: “To navigate high inflation and save money during this time, there are a few things I do for my business. Foils are something I go through in a few days behind the chair. I now love buying the Reynolds foil from Costco or Sam’s Club and splitting them myself to save costs. I also buy only what I need! Along with that, being aware of the amount of color usage you are using on each guest and never over mixing. I use a weighing scale to price out the exact cost of what is being used on each client so there is never a problem of undercharging or overcharging.”

On Whether She’s Raised the Prices of Her Services: “Yes, I have raised my prices as a result of inflation, continue education, and to meet the demand of booking. Prices increased between $15-20 for color services. This was a great move for my business to increase profit and something all of my guests were very understanding about—pricing has gone up everywhere!”

On Whether She’s Had to Get Creative With Service Offerings to Retain Her Clients: “Behind the chair, I offer a few things that are complementary to them having any service done by me. A few things I love doing for my guests to make them feel they’re best but also make the price they pay worth it: hot towel massage, beverages and snacks, goodie bags for extension guests, and more!”

On the “Craziest” Price Increase That She’s Seen for a Product: “One product that I’ve noticed the largest increase is foils. I go through a 1,000 count in a few days behind the chair. A box prior to inflation would cost between $13-18. During inflation, you can easily pay between $24-29 just for one box. When you think about an extra $10 a week, it really adds up!”

On How She’s Dealt With Supply Chain Issues: “I have dealt with supply chain issues and it can be frustrating—especially when you’re in need of a color, hair product, lightener, gloves, and it’s sold out because people are stocking up and shipping is delayed. I love using Premier Beauty Supply, an online distributor to salon professionals. They have now implemented stock guarantees on popular products and even extensions, which I order all the time!”

On What She’s Doing to Recession-Proof Her Business and Prepare for the Future: “I still believe that our industry is a recession-proof profession. I feel that in the past, “pampering” yourself was viewed as luxury services and now it’s the “new normal” as if it’s another bill for the month. Staying on track with your business numbers and knowing your expenses each week and month is key to running a successful business, along with having money set aside in case of another recession. It can be hard to plan for something we have to keep in mind in all the unknown.”

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Does this sound like your experience? Let us know by sending us a message @readthetease on Instagram.

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Camille Nzengung

Camille Nzengung is a Features Editor at The Tease, where she covers all things hair. You can find her writing about the best hair products, the coolest hair trends, and all the exciting new hair launches. Send her a pitch: cnzengung@thetease.com.

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