Sep 16, 2022 | best hair salon portsmouth

Success Story: How Heidi a Salon Owner & Educator Has Helped Stylists Become Independent Contractors

Heidi White, the owner of Vanity Hair Studio, is making waves in the salon industry by creating a system that allows her to offer stylists the freedom and flexibility they crave.


Vanity Hair Studio is a unique salon that offers defined services for each client and an array of other services, including makeup, cuts, colour, style and bridal special occasions (bridal hair & makeup).


The salon has been open for over 15 years and has grown from one stylist to a team of stylists. The owner Heidi is a creative entrepreneur who understands how to adapt to an economic crisis based on her past experience when she initially opened her doors in the last major recession, Feb of 2008.


The young 26-year-old single mom of two boys had finally graduated from business school while working as a booth renter of another salon for 5 years and decided with pure ignorant bliss to open up her own salon.


Heidi spent a lot of time thinking about what she could offer her artists that they couldn't find elsewhere.

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Heidi recognized that she needed to value her stylists more than they were being valued by the commission-only pay system.


She knew that she had to create a more secure business for them to build on their creativity and encourage them to continue doing such beautiful work each hour each day.


She decided to get innovative by creating a new compensation program for her employees: one that pays them an hourly rate plus commission and quarterly bonuses—and includes two weeks of paid vacation time!


This year-round salary is made possible because of their valued VIP Membership program, in which clients sign up for one of their many options and save money each month on their regular hair care needs. This is the first for a hair salon in this area to offer a membership program.


How the Vanity VIP Membership Program has become a game changer for Vanity Hair Studio

When you own a hair salon, you want to be able to offer your stylists the best compensation possible. You also want them to be happy and secure in their jobs.


And yet… the reality is, most stylists are on tiny commission rates that barely cover their expenses—and often not even those!


In order to keep them working for you, you have to pay them more than what they're making from commissions alone. And that's where the problem really starts… how do you balance paying them enough and still be able to grow a healthy business?


One way we are doing this at vanity studio is by offering a VIP Membership program. Vanity has been doing this since late 2020, with great success! We offer five different levels of membership programs including Color Me Beautiful ($99), Blowdry me ($75), Smooth me ($849), Cut me ($40), Product me ($49.99).

The VIP membership model allows White to balance her business income in advance to ensure her staff stay busy and are ensured a constant paycheck at the same time.

"It has always been not just important but critical that my salon be supportive of both its clients and stylists. You can't have one without the other," said White.


"There will always be challenges we have to face, whether economically or otherwise, and I'm just happy to be on solid footing with wonderful and loyal clients and a talented staff that embody the vision I have always had for Vanity – to create, shine, amaze, and do truly beautiful work."


The story of most of the stylists that work with Heidi at Vanity Hair Salon looks like this…

Hired from out of state, she was an experienced stylist with a great clientele, but she and her family moved to NH. She found Vanity after interviewing several salons and settled in with Vanity because it was a well-designed salon located in a prime location in lovely Portsmouth, NH.


The seacoast is a great busy place and mostly known for its great food and views of the ocean and bay and bridges connecting to Kittery Maine, a beautiful seacoast town. 


She assisted Heidi for 6 months and slowly Heidi would give from her clients and new clients, within 1 year she was making a great salary working only 3 days a week for 5 years, she was with Vanity going to all the education classes with the team, doing team outings, having dinner parties, she became like a family.


She wanted to try booth renting and has been successful in her transition as an entrepreneur of her own dream.


One of the successful stylists at Vanity Hair Studio, Ingrid has this to say abo​​ut Heidi and Vanity Hair Studio

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1.What is your name and role at Vanity Hair Studio?

“My name is Ingrid, and I was a Stylist and Makeup Artist at Vanity, but when I started, I was an apprentice learning everything about hair from the owner, Heidi White, and the other stylists that worked there.”


2. Why did you decide to work with Vanity Hair Studio?

“I liked the location, the people, and it was a cool environment. One of the coolest parts was being able to walk to all the good restaurants and stores after work or during your lunch break.”


3. What makes this company unique?

“It felt like the owner was down in the trenches with you, seeing a lot of clients, working with large wedding parties, making sure clients treated the staff with respect.”


4. What is your expertise and how have you grown over time with Vanity Hair Studio?

“While at Vanity my expertise was colour; I particularly fancied blonde. Currently, I am working on my master's of applied chemistry, which started off as a love of the chemistry of hair colour.”


5. What is your favourite part about working here?

“I loved how we were always encouraged to learn. Heidi would seek out classes for us to take and sometimes schedule the educators to come to the salon. We were always on the cutting edge of new styles and techniques.”


6. Do you feel like your job impacts you positively in other areas of your life, such as your mental health, physical health, relationships, etc.?

“I always left feeling like I accomplished something.”


7. What is the most important thing that Vanity Hair Studio does for its employees?

“Education and a solid stream of new clients. Even if you are new and don’t have anyone on the book, there is a high probability multiple people will walk in or call in for that day. The salon has a great reputation for quality work and a high retention rate.”


8. How has the company helped you achieve your personal and professional goals?

“The owner created a supportive atmosphere and helped give me the confidence to take-on challenging situations.”


9. What's your proudest moment in working with Vanity Hair Studio?

“While working at Vanity, we received Elle’s top 100 Salon which was super amazing to be a part of. But, there were a lot of summers Saturdays where we did 4-5 weddings starting at 6 am and ending at 3 pm where we all worked together really hard together, and I remember feeling good/proud those days, it may not be award-worthy, but those are good memories.”



The takeaway from this story is that it is possible to give the freedom they crave as well as protect your business from risk. Heidi built systems and processes into her business, so she could focus on serving her customers rather than putting out fires or dealing with issues.


If you’re looking for a way to get regular hair care without breaking the bank, Vanity VIP membership is your best option or you’re looking for the best salon near you in Seacoast for bridal hair and makeup, check out Vanity Studio now. 


And if you're considering becoming a stylist yourself, Vanity Hair Studio could be the place for you, reach out to us today and you could be our next star! Good luck!


"I'm just an artist who started a business on blind faith fourteen years ago," White said. "I'm always thinking about how I can balance the scales, and all I know is that failure is not an option. I want people to love their reflection – it's that simple." - Heidi White

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