Our Meet the Merchant series features Q&As with real-world Clover merchants. Read our full catalog for innovative ideas and real-life stories of small businesses in action.
In this installment, we sit down with Kat Jones, the owner of Hair Studio 18 in Denton, Texas. Kat shares her journey towards starting her own salon, how Clover helps her business run smoothly, and how she has adapted to doing business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Clover: Hi Kat! Thanks for talking to us today. Can you tell us how you got started doing hair?
Kat Jones: I actually started doing hair when I was a kid. My mom always did hair, and she went to beauty school. My great-grandmother also went to beauty school, and she had a salon in the back of her house. So I’ve always been around hair, and I’ve learned from watching.
I went to beauty school while I was in high school, splitting the day with my other classes, so I was able to get my license before I even graduated. That was back in 2001, so I’ve been doing hair for 19 years.
Clover: What made you decide to stop working for someone else and open up your own business?
Jones: Back then, I was doing about 20 haircuts a day. I was selling a lot of retail, really working hard, really hustling. And I felt like, if I could do that for a brand, why couldn’t I do that for myself? I just wanted to be out on my own, doing my own thing, calling my own shots. Plus, I had two kids at the time, so I really needed to think about where I wanted to be in my career.
Clover: What was the startup process like? How did you get your first clients?
Jones: Denton is a college town, we have three different colleges here. So that was my base, I wanted to reach college kids. I’m actually from Denton as well, so I knew a lot of people out here. But when I left those franchises I was working for, I didn’t have any clientele. I took a leap of faith.
When I first opened up, I passed out flyers door-to-door, put flyers on cars, went to the colleges and passed out flyers in their student unions, and just walked up to random people passing out my card. That’s how I marketed myself. I put an ad in the paper as well. I did everything I could to get out there and meet people.
When I started out, business was very, very slow. I only worked on Saturdays, so that means I barely had clients. But I did my best to give great customer service and do a great job on the hairstyles I was doing. I know that word of mouth is an important tool, so I hoped people would talk about their hairstyles and help me get the word out.
Eventually, that blossomed into me being nominated for an award in my county. There’s hundreds of different salons that people can go to in this area, but my salon was named one of the top three.
Clover: What was a typical day like for you before the pandemic hit? How do you like to work with clients?
Jones: I saw about 40 clients a week, and spent anywhere from 30 minutes to three or four hours with each client. I was busy, working five days a week, and in the prime of my career. I have one other stylist working with me in the salon, and she’s been there pretty much since I opened. She’s so funny! The thing about hair stylists is, you attract people like you, so most of her clients are just as silly and crazy as she is. We have a lot of fun!
As for me, if I see somebody coming in whose hair isn’t looking right, I know they probably don’t feel good. Because you look how you feel. So I do my best to make them look great—and I compliment them from head to toe to give them that confidence they need. We give our clients confidence in my salon—it’s not just hair.
Clover: What made you choose Clover for your point-of-sale system?
Jones: I actually started with another company, but their fees were high and they just kept going up. So we made the switch to Clover. The fees are reasonable and they’ve never changed. There’s no guesswork or worry about an outrageous bill.
I have the Clover Mini, and my clients love it. They love the fact that they can do Apple Pay or contactless payment. I also use the sales reports, and I use Clover Rewards. For every $100 a client spends, they earn $5 off a service or a transaction.
Clover: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your business?
Jones: I was out of work for eight weeks. I stayed in touch with my clients over social media, and I kept posting about how I was doing. I also went live on Facebook a few times to answer questions from my clients. A lot of them don’t do their hair themselves, so they look to me for advice. So I used that platform to reach all of them at once.
One of my clients actually pre-paid me, and that gave me the idea to offer virtual gift cards, where my clients could pay me in advance for whatever service they wanted to have when I was able to open back up. So that’s how I survived while we were shut down.
Now we’ve reopened. The way I conduct business now is different, obviously. No one can just walk into the salon. They have to text me before they come in. I can only have one person in my salon that I’m going to be working on, so the whole dynamic of the business is totally different. Everything is slower. There’s extensive cleaning that I have to do. So now I’m not just a hairstylist, I’m a sanitation expert.
Clover: What advice would you have for another salon owner?
Jones: My advice is to keep in contact with all of the clients that you can get in touch with. Let them know that you’re thinking about them. Offer virtual gift cards. Let them know that’s an option, or if they want, that they can make payments on any appointments up through the rest of the year. Everything is an option. Just don’t give up on your business and keep the faith.