Finding the right stylist in a city of any size can be like finding a needle in a haystack. There is no shortage of licensed professionals, which means that it can be overwhelming to find the right person for your locks. So, how do you do it? How you do find the person that will understand your hair, sense of style, lifestyle, desired end result and actually get you there? There are lots of ways you can go about it, so let’s investigate some options.
We live in the “Information Age“, and most of us rely on the Internet for that information that is not easily accessible. Most reputable salons will have a website for you to look at with at very minimum the basics: hours, services offered, product lines, location and contact information. Some more comprehensive sites will have staff info/profiles, photos and details on all services offered. A lot of salons are even beginning to offer Online Booking which is a great tool if you have a salon/spa in mind and can’t get to the phone to book an appointment. But when just starting to search, I would recommend making the call and speaking with someone at the salon for your first appointment. Don’t be fooled by pretty web design, that is not what you’re after—you’re looking for a great stylist, and that doesn’t always mean a gorgeous website (but it can help).
Social Media: This is how people stay connected as well as a great forum for information from your peers. Simply post “looking for a new stylist in Downtown, suggestions?” and watch them flow into your comments and inbox! Depending on how well you know all of the people on your social media pages should relate to how much weight you may give their replies. What to look for is someone with similar style choices to your own. Do they wear their hair like yours, do you like how their hair looks, do they share similar interests, etc.? If you’re wondering why that matters keep in mind that some of our friends don’t mind maintenance, and if that is not your forte, it’s a critical part of the consultation you’ll need to have.
Reviews: Yelp, Google, Yellow Pages etc. are good ways for people to share their own personal experiences with any business. I personally LOVE to Yelp about restaurant experiences myself. But I also know that sometimes the reviews are not driven solely on the experience someone had, but can often be skewed positively or negatively. Sometimes friends write reviews because their friend, the employee asked them to for more stars. Seems harmless, right? Well, if you’re looking strictly at the number of stars in that rating that isn’t really accurate since they may not have had a great experience, but they are helping out their friend by writing a positive review. The same for the negatively written ones, sometimes people can review a business poorly because they just broke up with the waiter, etc. They won’t actually write about the break-up but they may write what horrible service they received, just because they’re angry with the person. The key to weeding out some of those (and Yelp has filters of its own too for this purpose!) is to READ the full review! See what made the experience at the salon so good or bad, and if that is a scenario that would affect your decision to go there
Magazines, newspapers, billboards, radio, etc. If you’re looking for a more privately owned salon as opposed to a major chain you will be sure to find advertisements for these salons as you cruise the morning paper, or listen to your favorite morning show. Here in Milwaukee, I know I can’t drive down the freeway without seeing a lighted billboard for a local salon or school. If you’re new to the area, these are always a great way to see what’s in your community. Paid advertisements don’t always mean superior services though, either, so make sure to do some research if possible before scheduling a major service.
The oldest and BEST form of advertisement!! Advice from friends, family, and coworkers will always supersede any glossy ad in a magazine. If you are new in town, just ask around when you go for a bite to eat or at the water cooler at work. For those not on social media, this is the most reliable way to get some real information about stylists in your area.
Once you have located a salon, the next step may be finding a stylist in the salon. Even if you already have a specific stylist you’re looking to see for the first time the most important thing to do next is: schedule a consultation! A consultation is (almost always) complimentary but it is best to ask before booking so there are no surprises. This is a meet and greet for you and your potential new stylist. The consultation is the most important part of any service because it determines the entire rest of the appointment.
If you’ve never been in the chair of the stylist before, it’s a perfect way to see if they are the right fit for you. Ask if they have a portfolio of work, see if their own style matches yours, do they have any specialties, what suggestions do they have for your look, etc.? There are so many questions to ask, and at the end of it, you should feel confident that this stylist is the right for you and it is time to schedule the service.
If you are left feeling unsure, no harm done, simply say thank you and you can go on to the next recommendation. The perfect stylist for you is someone who understands what you’re looking for, offers new ideas if you’re unsure, takes your face shape, skin tone, lifestyle, and personal style into account before starting the service. Do you feel good about the conversation at the end of the consult, or do you not? If you are unsure, it’s best to ask to call back for an actual service rather than going ahead with it right away, and feeling like you may not be on the same page as the stylist.
Remember: stylists are everywhere, it is important to be patient when finding the right one, so you don’t end up with a bad experience!