Specialist Spotlight

Lash Extensions can be endlessly customized, but Anastasia Hoff found that only a suite allows their full expression.

Eyelashes have grown far beyond the singular strip. Lash extension pros like Anastasia Hoff, owner of Spark Studio, can choose from classic straighter and thicker lashes or volume lashes, which are finer clusters of two to six lashes. She can also select from four different lengths or customized ones and decide to attach the lashes from base-to- end or to the base only, depending on the natural lash and its needs.
“I let the lashes tell me what they want,” says Hoff—“I’d never put a 16mm lash on a
natural baby lash. I prefer to mimic the natural lash. For special requests, I will add
longer ones at the ends but keep the outer corners shorter because of how we sleep. I don’t do ‘garage sale’ or ‘daddy-long- legs’ lashes.”

Anastasia Hoff, owner Spark Studio

Why Suites Suit Specialties Best

Among all the mathematical possibilities, there’s one mainstay Hoff says she’s learned: To do lashes in a highly customized and ergonomic way, a suite is the only way to go.
“Salons want you to follow a certain procedure or protocol within a specific time frame,” explains Hoff, whose Spark Studio is in Salons by JC’s Southdale Square, Edina, Minnesota, location. “The owners don’t fully understand specialties, especially if they aren’t cosmetologists. And there’s no way they are going to buy a $250 Glamcor light, which allows me to see and separate lashes perfectly without straining my back or eyes. In a suite, I don’t have to do lashes by following an A-B-C protocol; I can create individually tailored lashes, which is what I love. I can also schedule 15-minute breaks between services. Body awareness is huge when you are bending over a client for two-and-a-half hours.”
Hoff, who worked in a waxing studio, then a full-service salon, after graduating from the Aveda school with an esthetics license, says that over time, she realized her hard work wasn’t valued. She couldn’t run a special—or avoid running one for too long—and was paid hourly. Even when she reached benchmarks to get a “bonus” on product sales, it amounted to about $150 on $1,000 in sales, and reaching $999 didn’t cut it.
“I couldn’t ask for things I needed, like the proper light to reduce my eye strain or comfortable seating,” recalls Hoff. “I had signed a contract that if I left within a year, had to repay for my Novalash Extension training.” Showing up to her exit interview with a fist full of cash, Anastasia opted out of her contract and in January 2017 opened her salon suite at Salons by JC.

In investigating various situations, says Hoff, in-salon rooms for rent weren’t right, one suite building “looked bad from the outside” and another looked like its “tired sister on the inside.”
“Salons by JC felt youthful and rejuvenated,” she says. “As the twelfth tenant to sign a lease, I chose my suite strategically: I wanted to be seen from the concierge’s desk. I had a local artist paint wall mural in my suite—it even sort of looks like me.”

With lash extensions becoming so mainstream that lash bars are appearing around the country, a suite also offers the privacy and personalization that most women prefer when getting the service.

Owning it

A former bartender and yoga instructor, Hoff can now use her natural gifts to enjoy her clients and deliver safe, super-customized services in a suite of her own. She takes clients 4 days out of the week or more, depending on her schedule, doing anything from lash extensions and fills or even brow waxing. A brow wax is a natural addition to lash services. She would definitely love to see more male clients for back waxing.

She’s currently looking into the various requirements to do lash lifting (perming) paired with semi-permanent mascara. And while she might add skin care in the future (not a multi-level marketing brand, she stresses) she won’t be doing facials because extractions just aren’t her thing.
“I want to stay in my lane and own the lash market,” she says. “For that, my best business builders are before and after photos and videos. If only I’d known sooner about the power of social media!”
Lash extensions are the newest professional must-have and Hoff’s Classic lashes are $200, while her Volume lashes are $250. Fills are $60 and $75 respectively. Anyone can book her services online.  Follow her on Facebook @sparkstudiomn or on Instagram @sparkstudiomn.


Salon products distributor to open in Triad

Article from the Triad Business Journal 

SalonCentric, a national distributor of salon professional products and educational support for beauty operators, will open a new location next door to Salons By JC in Caldwell Court Shopping Center at 2717 Battleground Ave., in Greensboro.The 2,670-square-foot location is scheduled to open this fall, according to Garret Bedrin, who oversees acquisitions and leasing for The Bedrin Organization, which owns the shopping center. The location will be built to SalonCentric’s newest specifications and will include a classroom to host workshops and events.

Salons by JC soon will have two locations next to SalonCentric spots in the Triad.

Bedrin is also area developer of Salons by JC, with locations in Winston-Salem and Greensboro, and a location that will open later this year next to SalonCentricat 1225 Eastchester Drive in High Point.

SalonCentric is a division of L’Oreal. Headquartered in St. Petersburg, FL and operating in 48 states, SalonCentric has more than 565 stores and specializes in in-store demonstrations, in-salon trainings, regional classes and large-scale stage presentations at industry shows.


Concierge Superstars

If you think Salons by JC’s concierges just rent suites and greet guests, think again.

On any given day, Sheila Gentry, the concierge at Salons by JC in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, might be polishing windows, updating a spreadsheet for the location’s new day suite, finding business partners for a client appreciation party, connecting with a hair color rep, conducting a confidential tour or attending a Chamber of Commerce event. As part of the new offshoot of hotel concierges (which includes personal, retail and hospital concierges) Gentry is forging an innovative path created by Salons by JC: the salon suite concierge.

Much like their hotel-based counterparts, salon suite concierges stand for over-the-top service and the ability to make things happen. They also uniquely blend business and art with right- and left-brained activities, making them highly organized “people persons.”

What it Takes

As Salons by JC’s foremost point of difference, on-site concierges are flexible “experienced managers” who can turn any problem into a positive. This demands a multi-faceted background, which just happens to make women who worked while juggling a family ideal for the job. Gentry owned a gymnastics academy, acted as a travel and event planner, earned a cosmetology license and worked in a salon. Her counterpart at the Salons by JC Greensboro, North Carolina location, Shane MacLeod, holds a degree in business, has worked in advertising, sales and real-estate leasing, and is also a professional horse trainer. (She and her daughter recently won their first World Championship.) Both agree that their strongest earned skill is the ability to listen.

Which challenges demand that skill the most? “It can be hard to go out and market the location when I’m simultaneously being pulled back in to tend to tenant’s needs, but juggling it all is part of the versatility I love,” says Gentry. “It takes a strong ability to listen and communicate.”

MacLeod, whose first challenge was to help fill suites, says that in getting them full and keeping them that way (the Greensboro location recently won the Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Small Business of the Year Award), she focused on Facebook, flyers and local functions. Whether networking at a “Wind Down Wednesdays” event or with local SalonCentric stores, her greatest strength, she says, was taking time to listen.

“I know some don’t agree, but I have my phone on 24/7 so that I’m available when needed,” says MacLeod, who has kept the suites full ever since her outreach.

Business Builders for All

Listening with purpose also gives the duo great creative ideas, like MacLeod’s tenant/client parties and “Walk-ins Welcome” displays, as well as Gentry’s open-suite events for product reps who offer education and Client Appreciation days. To share what works both locally and within the Salons by JC network, the two frequently collaborate on ideas and talk to their peers through a special area on the company’s website.

All this communicating keeps the concierges wise to the very latest business disruption—multi-level marketers who feel free to walk into salon suites and interrupt haircuts, much to the annoyance of the many renters of other suites who posted on Facebook. At Salons by JC, that won’t happen, says Gentry: “We know who is seeing whom. Reps visit by invitation only and if I see a new one, I politely let him or her know our policy.”

Salons by JC’s concierges also ease both the large and small stuff for busy franchisees. They conduct tours, collect rent and explain leases, conduct fire drills, coordinate work orders and perform their own maintenance checks. “There’s a lot of hair in those central vacuum systems,” says MacLeod of the suites’ convenient wall-inlet system. “That’s ok because what I love most is seeing clients come out with a new cut or a makeover. We even have a place to photograph their before and afters.”

Adds Gentry, whose background gave her tons of connections for business partners, caterers, tenants’ birthday cakes (which she always gets) and local publicity, “I love being able to serve and listen. Our Grand Opening Party was a huge success and our location has even expanded to another floor since we’ve opened. Our recently opened Day Suite, where rents start at $50 a day, is helping newer stylists build a business before they fully commit and allowing stylists with young children work when they want. Next, I want to host a fashion show using our pros and local department stores. I just love working with hairdressers. It’s a lot of work, but if you’re organized and take it one step at a time, it’s the best job in the world.”

Salons by JC corporate office salutes Sheila Gentry and Shane MacLeod for their superior customer service, dedication and innovation in the role of concierge.   Congratulations on setting the standard for a Salons by JC superstar concierge!

Specialist Spotlight

At the Red Room of Vain, clients from conservative to outlier let it go

Jenna Conti is in the best place she’s ever been in her life. She has the suite of her dreams at Salons by JC (Lithia Crossing, Valrico, FL), a full book of clients who she adores and a husband who handles all her accounting—her only business challenge. Maybe that’s why she has such a lust for life that she encourages her clients to take a walk on the wild side with rainbow hair color and unleash their inner selves when cocooned at her Red Room of Vain, which is playfully named for that famous “50 Shades” Red Room.


“I’m a different kind of stylist,” says Jenna. “Even my 80-year olds feel free to share things you wouldn’t believe, because when they are in my suite, they know it’s all about them. I just want them to leave looking great and feeling fantastic about themselves.”

Things weren’t always so fantastic for Jenna herself. She endured a divorce. She had to re-learn how to walk after having a brain tumor removed. She even had to give up her not-for-profit that raised money for local children who were ill. To raise funds for hair pieces, toys and books, she would appear in a mermaid costume as “Eden Sirene,” but the accounting was complex and costly.
No jellyfish in the face of adversity, Jenna recovered from her setbacks, met her current husband at a mermaid tradeshow (he’s a software engineer, not a merman) and moved into a suite only to realize the rent was so high she had to work twice as hard just to cover the costs. This put her back in a chair-rental situation—the only thing that wasn’t working in her rebooted life.

“I moved rental chairs twice before I realized that they did not meet my primary need, which was to give my clients a unique, caring experience in a private space,” says Jenna. “Then I visited Salons by JC and fell in love with their attitude. They understood that I was taking my time to make a decision because I wanted it to be the last time I moved my business. They were very kind, the business was incredibly clean and I loved the fact they have a concierge who greets clients at the front. Clients don’t want to walk in and wonder what to do next.”

The Secret to Suite Success

Jenna says that with each move, 100-percent of her clients followed her because she always goes “above and beyond.” For example? She not only offers wine but if a particular client loves a certain kind of chocolate, she brings it in the day of that woman’s appointment. (And it is a woman’s space, she sees just three men who were referred by their wives.) If a client needs an early morning or late-night appointment, she gets it. And while many are long-time friends, Jenna still calls or texts after appointments to be sure they are happy with their hair. If not, she says, she’ll fix it immediately.

Her current Salons by JC suite is close to where she worked the longest period of time, making it easy for all her faithful followers to reach. But she also gained new clients thanks to her referral program, which she’s never shared before.
“When a client refers someone to me, I give the referring client right back for free, the exact same services the referral got,” explains Jenna. “It can tell you, it beats every other program out there.”

Jenna, who offers cuts, color, hair smoothing treatments and more, says her only goal is to let women feel beautiful and amazing in her suite, which is “more than a salon.” In a way, it’s their happy place away from home. To buoy her own satisfaction, Jenna now appears in a new mermaid costume to raise money for various children’s charities. Her life today, she says, is like a fairy tale come true; even Eden Sirene got a happy ending.