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Community Highlights: Meet Sara Davis of Salon Blu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sara Davis.

Hi Sara, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
While it’s very common in the hair industry to be a female stylist, it isn’t as common to be a female-owned company. After working at a 20 years old luxury hair salon for 10 & 16 years, my business partner (Tara Gardiner) & I approached the founders asking for them to partner with us on a new venture. They not only agreed, they countered with offering us the entire business they had built over 20 years. For the better part of 2019, we worked with attorneys, landlords, lenders, etc. to complete our asset purchase.

Oct. 28, 2019 we officially purchased Salon Blu in Raleigh, NC. With 3 locations & 80+ employees we were ecstatic to continue a legacy of technically advanced artists who were in the top 20% of our industry. We had 19 stylists producing more than $100k in sales. We were booming from the day we took over, with big plans to modernize & grow exponentially. Then four months later, we were mandated to be closed for 70 days. We knew owning a business wouldn’t be easy, but factoring in Covid meant we had to basically reevaluate every process we had in place for decades & pivot hoping the new processes would be enough to make it. 2020 was unbelievably tough for new business owners in a “non-essential business,” but somehow a year after our closure we’ve made it through!

Of course, we made all the obvious changes with cleaning procedures, but we also really looked at what was working & what needed improvement. We managed to remodel all three locations in the past year looking at the closure as a positive that allowed us time to handle these improvements & be ready for business when we were allowed to re-open. We modified our guest check-in & out processes, we completely reworked our apprenticeship program to be more virtual & guide with QR codes taking employees to house made how-to videos. We focused on customer service & more personalized coaching from management. We rethought what drives employees & implemented new dress code, more leniency with time working behind the chair, & how we promoted our staff to higher positions.

Yes, we lost employees along the way, we cried many times & spent countless nights worrying over our employee’s health, happiness, & career, but now a year later we see light at the end of the tunnel. It’s was a roller-coaster of a first year, but it made us strong & prepared to pivot on a dime!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Aside from Covid related issues, we bought a well-established company with many of the staff being around for 10+ years. We had earned respect from the staff we worked closely with over the years, but becoming their bosses was a whole new venture. We had to reset from Day 1 & earn respect as boss babes, owners, & simultaneously maintain our individual businesses behind the chair.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Salon Blu is a luxury hair salon in Raleigh, NC. We are a Redken Elite Salon with three locations in North Raleigh, North Hills, & Brier Creek. For almost 20 years, our goal has been to provide an elevated guest experience by highly trained stylists.

Our teams are made up of the best stylists in North Carolina! We believe in nurturing our team and providing trend-focused continuing education to produce the most creative and technically advanced stylists. We provide hair care services to all ages & luckily we have plenty of stylists who each have their unique niche.

While our business is all things hair, my partner & I are most proud of the work we do behind the scenes. Salon Blu offers our employees health/dental insurance, matched IRA, & paid vacation time. Throughout the year, we plan plenty of contests for the employees, holiday parties, paid continuing education, etc. We coach the stylists every eight weeks, we do annual financial planning, we try very hard to be available for the team’s mental & physical health. During Covid, we hand sewed masks, we provided Sunday meals to go, we offered zoom continuing education, & we used our PPP loan to pay in-house unemployment. I believe our passion for hair & people is what sets us apart in a saturated industry.

Any big plans?
Fingers crossed 2021 will look different than 2020 in many ways! We look forward to continuing to grow our team with our Associate Program which takes new stylists through an intense 6+ month training before matriculating on the floor as full-time stylists. We prioritized remodeling all 3 locations in 2020 & hope to have more & more guests see the new aesthetic in 2021. With vaccinations underway, we feel optimistic that we can start to focus on more “big picture” ideas & continue to shape the cosmetology industry.

Contact Info:

  • Email: sara.salonblu@gmail.com
  • Website: www.salonbluhair.com
  • Instagram: SalonBluHair
  • Facebook: Salon Blu


Image Credits

Matt Ramey Justin J. Photography

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