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Cruise Control

For the past two years, whenever I hired a new employee, I told them they were going to be helping to build a plane while flying it. My endeavors go beyond just running a salon—they’re about making a positive impact in the personal wellness industry and using my business and resources to fight systemic oppression in my local community.

Learning how to run a salon while creating and leading a training program for new professionals to bridge the gap between school and the actual skills necessary to serve their community was no easy task. This has been the most expensive part of the business, as we are neither a school gaining tuition nor a master salon full of established hairdressers. There were times I almost crashed the plane. The duct tape was coming loose, yet I persisted.

I had to change the consumer narrative and teach everyday customers to expect kind, thoughtful, and comprehensive service experiences from businesses. I had to change the workforce narrative, teaching them to expect mentorship relationships that provide kindness and compassion while they learn to deliver those services consistently and authentically. I had to reset my personal life to align with my goals for the future and my newly brushed-up set of priorities. The process was arduous and incredibly cathartic.

Now, I believe Left Coast Salon and its proverbial plane prototype are finally complete. We know who we are, who we serve, how we do it, and most importantly, why we do what we do. We have a curriculum and program that allows the hairdresser to blossom in pure altruistic authenticity while growing through technical humility and curiosity in accordance with the needs and desires of those they choose to serve.

I have developed business practices that facilitate the feedback necessary to inform the training program and adjust the policies for posterity. My staff are training staff. Leaders are emerging, and now all that is left is to successfully maintain and fly the plane. We have finally hit cruise control. The organization is no longer completely reliant on my income as a master stylist, and the training is locked in. The community is giving us lots of great feedback that keeps us on our toes, and we are so delighted to be a relevant solution.

While LCS grows into its community salon self, the solution to our expensive training program is to put this foundational information where it belongs—in the training institutions. Next year we will seek to open our first cosmetology school and begin a scaled effort to consistently produce wholehearted hairdressers ready to provide the basic service experience with the power to make their community feel seen and satisfied.

The Salon will also be seeking the endorsement of my new nonprofit, The Kind Professional Society, which requires its members to have 100% Employee-Ownership through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, transparent pay structures, training and recruitment strategies directly informed by active feedback loops, and technology that advances accessibility to the industry. This means soon Fern and Navy will become the first employees to become fully vested in Left Coast Salon, and their unique threads will forever be woven into the tapestry of our organization that we will now be crafting together.

For now, we will enjoy the calm as we cruise along our flight, feeling free to move about the cabin because we have created a safe and comfortable environment for not only ourselves but also for those who have chosen to go along this ride with us.

We’re no longer just flying; we’re soaring into our future as a 100% employee-owned enterprise. And as we prepare to land our first cosmetology school, we’re not just making history—we’re making a difference.

Thank you Puget Sound for being open to change.

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