Fair warning: this is a blog post that I've hesitated writing for a long, long time, but after talking to other hairstylists, I think it's high time that we had a little real talk discussion about what goes on in industry.
There are a lot of assumptions that go on about hair stylists, click on the photo above to see it larger and you'll get what I'm' talking about. While I love my job and would honestly not rather be working anywhere else than my little salon, being a salon owner or a self-employed stylist is not the fairytale description that many people dream about. The hours are long. You constantly are covered in other people's hair. Your clothes get destroyed by hair color and other chemicals. It can be physically exhausting and mentally draining. As a hair stylist I am constantly struggling to find balance between home, work, friends, kids, and I have to juggle dozens of different schedules, phone calls, last minute cancellations, and hair emergencies daily. There are no vacation days, sick days, paid holidays, retirement plans, health care benefits, or company perks.
I once wrote this article about why haircuts are so expensive. It's kind of a long article, but if you've ever wondered why it costs what it does to get a haircut, I'd highly recommend that you take a few minutes and read about the costs that actually go into your haircut. You might be surprised.
The truth is, I'm not trying to rip you off, and I don't think I know any hairstylists that are scheming to overcharge for their services. We are not different than you. We simply want to go to work, enjoy our day to the very best of our abilities, and come home with a well earned paycheck. Of course, we all like to save money, but let me tell you something I've noticed; people really like to save money on their haircuts.
Let me also be honest by saying that I'm a giant pushover. My rates are incredibly reasonable for my area of the world. In fact, I've been told on numerous occasions that I should raise my rates. I've only done it one time in five years. I give a lot of discounts. I know a lot of stylists that do. It's the first thing they try to teach you not to do in hair school. Why? Because we will discount ourselves into flat broke in a minute.
In all my years as a serial hair service discounter, maybe three people have called or emailed and said, "Are you sure I paid you enough? I see a discount on my receipt (mine receipts are all sent via email)." Otherwise, no one seems to mind getting a discount, few people say "thank you", and even fewer people reciprocate the discount.
So this over-discounting problem that I have is mine. I need to grow a backbone and stop it, frankly, but as I said earlier, people like discounts and they aren't afraid to ask for one. Nothing irritates me more than when someone asks for a discount on services that I amá already providing at a fair rate, and believe me it happens all the time.
I so badly would like to ask the person how they would react if they went to work and their boss just said, "I'm going to have to ask you to work for half price today, if you don't mind. I'm trying to save a few dollars this week."
I would love to hear your opinions in the comments below. Do you seek out discounted hair services? Do you think it's fair to ask your hairstylist to work at a reduced rate? Have you ever considered that when you get a discount, your stylist is cutting her own paycheck?