Why You Should Move from Commission to Booth Rent

By | Fashion, hair stylist, salon industry | 31 Comments

kittyupdo salon

Okay guys, I’ll give it to you straight. I worked as a commission stylist, with a full clientele, for over a decade before finally taking the plunge in to booth rental. Once I finally did, I found myself asking – why did I wait so long? The reasons were numerous, but mostly I didn’t make the switch because I was comfortable. I’d worked at the same salon for a very long time, I liked my boss and my co-workers, I had steady money, so why should I leave? Plus, booth renting seemed super scary, I had so many questions – What are normal booth rental rates? What if I want to go on vacation, do I still have to pay? What products do I provide vs. the salon? Where the hell do I even buy said products? What if I have a slow week? How do I find the time to keep my own appointments? How do I manage my taxes? What if my friggin’ brain implodes trying to figure all this out? I’m a worrier, and it all seemed like too much. It was easier to stay put and collect my paycheck. I also, had this idea that booth rental salons are full of loners with an every-man-for-himself mentality (this turned out to be an unfounded fear), and I loved being part of a team of people who worked together and supported each other.

So what finally forced me out of my comfortable bubble? Here’s the real deal, I got fired. I’ve always been an independently minded person. I don’t like authority figures, I won’t wear a dress just because a Kardashian has it, I don’t consider Taylor Swift “good music” and I don’t care how many people disagree. I live my life the way I want to. I’m not a personality type who is all that well suited for a large corporate salon. But that’s where I’d been for almost 10 years. I can only assume they finally got tired of my quiet refusal to follow most of the rules. In truth, the fact that I flew under their radar for so long was pretty remarkable. So why did someone as independent as me stay in a corporate commission environment for so long? I got complacent, and afraid to make a change. This happens to all of us, and over time it made me restless and resentful. And here’s the truth, getting fired from that job was the best thing that ever happened to me. I took my clientele, and decided it was time to work for myself.

And how did I overcome all of my anxieties about working for myself? I started asking questions. A lot of them. Productive ones. I used the vast network of friends, family, clients and coworkers I’d built over the years (as well as facebook) and before long, I’d found myself an accountant and a bookkeeper. Having those two in place, I felt better already, knowing someone else would be looking after my finances since that has never exactly been the most organized part of my life. It was a good first step.

Next I had to find a salon. There are so many salons out there, it seemed overwhelming at first, but I knew there were certain things I didn’t want, so I started there. A lot of those things came down to the location and the salon owner. I wanted to be in the city, not too far from my old salon (for client convenience), but I didn’t want to be right downtown where there’s no parking, and I didn’t want to be in the too-sexy-for-my-shirt neighborhood where stylists are expected to wear all black and speak in a fake British accent. You know the neighborhood I mean. I also needed the salon owner to be responsible and down-to-earth. Let’s face it, the salon industry can be full of wackos. and salon owners are no exception. I wanted someone who paid their bills, cleaned their salon, didn’t do drugs, didn’t have an ego the size of Dolly Parton’s…ehem…hair, didn’t have frosted tips and a corvette. I wanted to work for someone, well, like me. This was easier said than done, but I ultimately decided on a salon where a friend of mine worked. Which probably wasn’t the best way to find my new home, and it wasn’t the all-out utopia I’d hoped for, but it served my purposes to start. Later I would move on to a nicer space that ticked more of my boxes.

The next confusing thing was figuring out what I should be paying for a chair. Booth rental pricing is all over the map you guys, but the bottom line is that most of the time, like anything in life, you get what you pay for.   You only want to pay $165 a week for a chair? That’s absolutely fine, but don’t expect a beautiful space or much in the way of amenities. You want big picture windows, exceptional lighting, big stations, foot traffic, full beverage service, and a receptionist? Great! But these things cost the salon owner money, so expect to pay more. For me, it came down to being able to offer my client the best possible experience. Better client experience = better clients = more money, so I chose to pay more.

And that is the bottom line, right? Money. Being a booth renter means running your own business, so lets talk money, because that’s really the point of all of this. We have chosen creative, fulfilling jobs, and that is wonderful, but at the end of the day, we are here to make money. So listen up, because I’m going to break down my actual numbers for you. You don’t want to skip this part. Your own numbers may vary from mine, depending on where you live and what you charge, but the principle is the same. I was charging $50 for a haircut and making 49% of that at my commission salon. If I did $5000 in services in a month average, after commission, taxes, and deductions I went home with roughly $2000/ month (not including tips). It’s enough to live on, but it’s a pretty modest life. Skip forward to the same service numbers as a booth renter. I was paying $250/week for a chair, plus estimate another $200-400/month in expenses (color supplies, accounting, etc). For that same $5000/month in revenue I was now keeping $3600-3800 of it. Plus tips. That’s 80-90% more money in my pocket at the end of each month for the exact same amount of work.

And once the money started coming in, all those other things I’d been worried about, buying my own supplies, keeping my own appointments, suddenly didn’t seem like a big deal. I kept a calendar on my phone (now our salon has an integrated system with online booking & reception, but clients still text me for appointments too), my co-workers pointed me towards beauty supply, I got Square to process credit cards, and voila! I was my own boss. I made my own hours, I never again had to answer to someone who thought I should come in earlier, or be more involved in team events. And you know what, I was still part of a team of people who loved and supported one another, but wanted to keep more of their money, just like me. All the things I had been afraid of became easy and routine very quickly. It’s amazing how quickly we can adapt, especially when there’s money involved. And yes, I even got vacation. Turns out two free weeks a year is common in booth rental salons. So if you have a steady clientele, why on earth would you keep giving so much of your money to someone else? Take charge of your own business, make a change. I have to tell you, you will never regret the choice. I will never work for someone else again. In fact, liked working for myself so much, last year I took it to the next level and opened my own salon. Revolver Salon at 1489 Steele St, and we are looking for talented booth renters like you!

Start the conversation about your employment with us here or text me at 720-939-5986



Kitty Vincent, owner Revolver: a Salon



David J at Revolver

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DavidJ (1)

Last month Revolver Salon was incredibly blessed to have David J from Love and Rockets and Bauhaus play an invite-only secret show right here in our salon.  It was put together at the last minute the night after he performed a DJ set at Denver’s legendary dance party Lipgloss, and we were ecstatic to offer him a space to play. I first discovered Love and Rockets (and yes also Bauhaus, although I wasn’t as big of a fan.  Maybe Peter Murphy just bugs me?) when I was about 20 and working in record stores, with no idea who I would be or where life would take me. At that time, I couldn’t have imagined I would be a hair stylist, a business owner, an occasionally successful musician, or any of the numerous other things that lead us here to this point. But the 20 year old me quickly became a fan and acquired the full Love and Rockets catalogue, along with most the out of print stuff and some rare vinyl. If someone had told me then that 15 years later I would be the owner of a hair salon that would host a very intimate private show with David J for just me and and handful of close friends, it would have blown my mind in so many different ways.  Here is a short video of him performing No New Tale to Tell. It’s a little dark, just like your goth heart. Enjoy!


Why Open a Small Business? Because you’re crazy…

By | business, Fashion, Food for thought | One Comment

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Someone once described small business ownership to me like this: It closely resembles jumping out of an airplane and hoping you can figure out how to build a parachute before you hit the ground. And after having spent the last year and a half planning, building, and finally opening the hair salon I’ve always dreamed about, I can unequivocally say, that is bullshit. Most days it’s more like learning how to build the airplane from scrap metal, teaching yourself to fly the thing, getting shoved out the hatch mid-air, and THEN hoping you can build a parachute before you hit the ground.

So what on earth, you ask, would make a person do such a thing? The money? The fame? The glamour? If you define glamour as begging everyone you know for loans and favors and spending Saturday night scraping together dinner out of the random assortment of pinto beans, cottage cheese, and potato chips you have lingering in your cupboards, then absolutely, call me Grace Kelly.   This is not an exaggeration. To anyone contemplating small business ownership, here is some advice. Prepare to be broke for awhile. Very very very broke. And not just broke, but broke and carrying an enormous amount of debt. As much debt as the banks will give you, and then some.

So then, why would I do this to myself?

Reason 1: Lets just say I have problems with “authority” and “structure” and “schedules;” just ask my mother. No one has ever referred to me as a “team player”. One of the main reasons I became a hairstylist in the first place was so I could sleep until 11am, and get tattoos on my neck, or whatever. Turns out though, working in a salon means you still have a boss who expects you to follow rules like other bosses—lame.

Reason 2: And this is key, the thought of sitting behind a desk in an office, attending morning meetings, and using phrases like “let’s think outside the box,” literally makes me want to jump into traffic. So clearly the corporate world is out for me.

Reason 3: I’ve never had any trouble being “miss bossy pants,” especially when I was little (again, something my mother can confirm for you). So, turns out this trait is going to serve me well later in life after all.

Reason 4: If I had to spend any more of my life helping someone else execute their poorly thought-out half-assed business vision, I was going to go Kill Bill on someone. As in—our towels smell like mildew, my paychecks are bouncing, and my salon owner just spent the last 3 weeks in South America… Cool, meet my friend Vivica A. Fox, the knives expert. What the hell was I working to give these people half my money for? What was I getting in return besides smelly towels and tired feet?

So there it is, like a lot of other business owners, I chose entrepreneurship out of sheer desperation. Because, given my personality quirks, there is little else I’m suited for, and even less that’s suited for me. Now, that’s not to say I opened a salon purely out of process of elimination. I consider myself a person with vision. I carry the necessary egomaniacal belief that I can create something special and different from all the other salons out there, and a sincere desire to put my own stamp on the industry I’ve spent so much of my life in.

So I embarked on this journey, like a sweet wide-eyed bunny rabbit, all ready to put something amazing into the world, only to be crushed by city bureaucracy, budgetary constraints, and general exhaustion. Seriously people, trying to navigate through the city’s regulation and permitting process to open a brick and mortar business, is nothing short of soul crushing. It’s not for the faint of heart. And everything will cost twice as much as you think it will. This is not just something people say, that shit is real. Sit down and think carefully about every single thing you might possibly need to make your business run, down to the coffee maker and the paper clips. Add all that up, and when you think you have a solid, accurate number—double it. Same goes for time. If you think you can get the project done in 2 months, it will be 4, guaranteed. Also, expect to wake up in sheer terror at least 3 times a week, feeling sure you’ve made the biggest mistake of your life. This is completely normal, and a sign that you are indeed an entrepreneur.

So now that I’ve gotten to this point, built the plane, jumped out of it, started frantically trying to build that parachute, how do I know I’ll be successful, you ask? The short answer is I don’t. The moment I opened the salon doors on our first day I immediately flashed to the Underpants Gnome episode of South Park, in which Tweek discovers small gnomes stealing his underpants in the middle of the night. Claiming to be business experts, the gnomes explain their business plan:

Step 1: collect underpants

Step 2: …….?

Step 3: profit

Yep, despite my years of experience, careful planning, and detailed business plan, on day 1, I felt just like the underpants gnomes. As in, how the hell am I going to do make this work? But that feeling passes. And here we are on day 91, just over 3 months open and I’m starting to see my hard work pay off. My stations are starting to fill with stylists, and their chairs are filling with clients. I lost those parachute instructions in mid-air, but I’m building it anyway.

So here is the answer to the question–why open a small business: Because you have to. Because you literally can’t do anything else. (If you can, do. Seriously) Because you have a vision that can’t be contained in a cubicle. Because you have a special brand of crazy that is both brilliant and not suited for employment. Business ownership is not for the timid, or the easily discouraged. But I think, at least for me, it was the only choice. And despite all the headaches (both past and future), I am genuinely proud to put something out into the world that will have an effect on the lives of the people around me. Revolver Salon is not an industry leader yet, but we’re gaining strength every day. It’s only a matter of time now before my salon empire takes over the world. Or at the very least I can buy groceries again.

Our First Media Coverage 8/22/14

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Westword Writes:

Local Musician Kitty Vincent Opens Revolver, a Hair Salon With Sonic Appeal

“The idea for her own hair salon — one that blends the rock n’ roll culture she’s been a part of her whole life and the styling she’s been doing for more than than a decade [finally] became a reality. When asked about why she chose to merge these two different worlds she’s had a hand in, Vincent says a hair salon embodying her love and connection music was a no-brainer. ‘If I was going to make a salon, I was going to make a salon that felt like me; I was going to make a salon that I wanted to hang out in,’ she says.”

Read the full article 



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