“Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
I honestly can’t remember when I discovered the beautiful Aura Mae, but when I did, there was an instant connection. Her spirit is larger than life, and I just knew she was someone special. What inspires me most about Aura is how she has figured out how to do life in a way that feeds her spirit. Whether its creating art with haircolor, or creating art with food, or watching her with her sweet dog Gracie Mae play in nature, Aura just gets it. What an honor it is to share a little glimpse into the awesome biz, and life that is Aura Mae…
N. What does passion look and feel like to you?
A. Passion is the reason I get out of bed. It’s the knowledge that I make a difference and that if I didn’t show up, the world would be a less colorful place. That I matter. That we all matter.
N. Why did you join A School?
A. My salon is celebrating its Silver Anniversary this year. We have survived so much and I wish I could say that it is because of my brilliant business acumen, but it is most likely despite my best efforts that we are still here. Our current focus is on remaining relevant to a new generation of clients. I knew that what I had done in the past wasn’t going to be enough to reach the Connected Generation and I sought out A School to help me understand how to connect with them. Also, I had recently gone through what I call The Dark Night of My Creative Soul where I was struggling to find my passion in my business and in my work behind the chair. I knew that I needed something to help keep me focused and accountable if I wanted the business to survive.
N. What have you learned on your journey in A School?
A. Mostly that I am not alone in my struggles. That running a small, creative business is real work and there is real help available. I don’t have to figure everything out on my own. I can turn to my peers for insight, guidance and support.
N. Why did you become an owner?
A. My college jobs were in food service and medical care. I quickly realized that most of those customers were miserable and more than willing to share their misery with me. My Uncle Mike was a handsome, successful, suave hairdresser and salon owner. During one of my early Saturday morning appointments, I realized that his salon customers were actually happy to be there. I decided that I wanted to work with happy people and I wanted to run a business that created that experience. I left college and signed up for beauty school immediately.
N. What is your biggest lesson so far being an owner?
A. You can’t let toxic staff stay, not matter how much you believe in their potential and your ability to bring them to it.
N. How do you handle difficult situations with clients or team members?
A. I listen (a skill I have worked hard to be better at!) and try to understand their perspective. Then I focus on what I can do to resolve the issue. I am good at helping people reach compromise, but I won’t tolerate unkindness in the salon from staff or customers.
N. What ONE tool would you say is the most effective in marketing your business and why?
A. Because we have been in business so long, most of our new business comes from brand recognition that we have built over time. We have built a reputation for being on the cutting edge of new technology. We were one of the first salons in our area to have a website and online booking. We had a van with a 3M graphics wrap that spread our name well (years after it was decommissioned we were still getting new clients say it was the van that brought them in.) We used to have a 24 hour emergency haircolor hotline (the staff took turns keeping the pager.) We were among the first Board Certified Haircolorists and people know that we will be the first to try new service offerings (like keratin smoothers and Olaplex.)
We’ve tried lots of paid advertising that didn’t show results (newspaper, billboards, tv) and today most new clients say they initially found us online searching “best Tacoma salon” which brought them to our website/Instagram/Facebook/Yelp. By the time they actually get in the chair, they know who we are as a business, which staff they might be best matched with and are already invested in our mutual success! In the pre-internet era, we used to struggle with turning first time clients into regulars. Now that people can learn about us before they come in, we are seeing clients who are more likely to be a good fit from visit one.
N. Where does your inspiration come from?
A. My haircolor inspiration comes from nature. I am known for working with a bright palette and I often try to capture the colors of plants, water, sky and animals in my work.
N. How do you practice self-care?
A. I developed The Aura Mae Way to share with others the pieces of the puzzle I stumbled upon while trying to live my most beautiful life: Eat more vegetables. Spend time outside. Love yourself and others. Find a spiritual practice that speaks to you.
I no longer put my focus on what I don’t want, I just load up on so much of the good that the lousy (thoughts, foods, actions) gets crowded out.
N. Coffee Bean or Starbucks?
A. Gosh, I don’t drink coffee anymore! Guess I have to pick the local business: Starbucks
N. Favorite quote?
A.“Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
A big shout out of love + gratitude to Aura Mae for sharing her story with us. You my friend are a total inspiration. We are so grateful to be on this journey with you!
Love + Awesomeness-
If you are a creative small biz owner in the pro beauty world and looking for a ton of love, support and help with creating an awesome biz + life, A School may be a good fit for you.