To say that Renee Summa does it all is really no exaggeration. Not only is she the owner Dyehard Beauty Studio (where she shares her exceptional styling and makeup artistry skills with countless clients), she's also the Co-Founder of AskaSalon.com and a regular blog contributor to Latest-Hairstyles.com.
Whew! I'm tired just thinking about Renee's busy schedule. But Renee? She stays calm, cool, and collected as she builds her savvy salon empire. Learn more about her journey through the styling world, why she loves her career, and what's in store for her in this edition of Crazy/Beautiful.
Walk us through the process of your decision to attend beauty school. Has hair always been a passion of yours or was it something you developed later on in life?
I developed an interest in hair as I grew up. When I was little, my mom was always setting my hair in foam rollers and I remember absolutely loving how my hair looked when she took them out in the morning! Also, for some crazy reason, I loved how they felt when I slept in them! (LOL)
In high school, I did my friends’ hair for dances like turnabout and prom. After graduating high school, I attended one year of traditional college at Purdue University Calumet, majoring in biology then business during the second semester. I remember a poignant thought as I was attending my business classes: “I really want to own my own salon!” It was then that I decided I first needed to know how to be a stylist so I could best understand how the business works. That was the moment I decided to go to beauty school. I figured I could always go back to college to get a business degree.
Are there any insights you wish you would have known prior to starting school that would have made for a better experience?
One thing that stands out to me is that I wish I would have understood the importance of volunteering for or finding a paid internship at a salon. Walking into a salon at that time of my life was a bit intimidating - I loved fashion and hair but these stylists were like “goddesses” to me! I really looked up to the art they created to make people feel beautiful inside and out. I thought “who the heck is going to want me hanging around their salon if I don’t even have a license yet?” Well, I can tell you now that I’d be SO excited to have an excited young future professional approach me and ask if he or she could shadow my work and salon life.
What challenges did you face fresh out of school?
The biggest challenge I remember was being confident about my skills knowing that I’d only just finished school. I understand color theory very well and am a very visual person which gives me a great vision for creating haircuts that clients describe. The only remedy for confidence, I’ve found, is practice. Practice certainly breeds confidence and, as I’ve heard, it takes at least 10,000 hours of practice of any one skill before one’s considered to be a true expert.
Tell us about Dyehard Beauty Studio. What were some of the major challenges to starting your own salon? What are some of the ongoing challenges?
Balancing work and personal life has been the greatest challenge I’ve faced. My mind is on the logistics of my business almost every hour I am awake. It’s like a program that runs automatically in the background on your computer. That’s how it feels! Still, hairdressing is my passion which is why I continue to pursue my dream. That said, I do understand the importance of living in the moment and make sure I’m fully engaged when it comes to time away from the salon. If I’m attending a soccer game, hanging out with my family, or doing something else in my personal life, I devote 100% of my attention to that activity. We have to know when to switch gears between work and play.
What advice would you give to someone considering starting his or her own salon?
Don’t just do it because you want to make money. Everyone wants to make a good living. Make certain you’re passionate about this field or, at the very least, are a business person who’s passionate about investing in the creative human potential behind the chair. If you’re a stylist who wants to own a salon, make sure you take several administrative business courses so you have a well-rounded understanding of all that it takes to run a business. Finally, as a stylist/owner whose business begins to flourish, either work behind the chair or as the business executive. No one can do it all; behind all success stories lies a team of some kind. Learn when to hire and delegate. Motivate and uplift your peers. When you’re becoming successful, it’s through giving back that you find the most reward.
You are the co-founder of AskASalon.com, an incredible resource for clients and stylists alike. Can you tell us what Ask-A-Salon is all about and what led you to develop the idea?
I was honored to be invited by Melissa Ball last year to join The Ask A Salon Network as a co-founder. It was founded by Melissa and began with a basic forum which has evolved into a beautiful platform where both stylists and clients alike can find answers. Stylists can become part of the professional forum community in order to learn from and share ideas with their colleagues. Clients can connect and get answers from licensed professionals, rather than have to post a question to, perhaps, Yahoo where anyone can give their input. I believe very strongly in advocating professionalism beyond the chair which is why I was so instantly drawn to her ideas and her venture.
You are very active on social media. How important is that to your business?
Social media is very important to me because it serves as my point of communication with my clients between services. I’m not able to be available to my clients 24/7 in person but through social media, I am able to post information about hair and my business to my platforms where they are able to check up on it at their convenience. I’m always so excited when I hear a client say something like “I watched your blowdry video over and over and I was finally able to style my own hair!” There’s an amazing satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment that comes from being able to help people make themselves feel beautiful in between services.
Product sales are a vital source of revenue for stylists and salons, so how does it make you feel when your clients purchase their products at a drug store or major retailer? Do you use that as an opportunity to educate them on the potential dangers of buying outside of a salon?
This question is so popular these days. I believe it’s important to focus on the positive rather than get all upset about drugstores selling professional products. Currently, there’s not a whole lot we can do individually to stop that chain of sales. What we CAN do is to educate our clients about how to use the products they will need to re-create their salon look at home. Education is the focus, not “selling”. When you educate, you create value. I don’t see a professional stylist sitting in those aisles educating people on how to use those products. That is why it is our jobs as stylists to do the educating. If we listen to the ques our clients give us, the clues of what to recommend will come to us easily. Find a solution to their problems and then educate them about the products they will use to implement that solution. They will be so very appreciative. No drugstore aisle can compete with that.
What upcoming trends are you most excited for?
I am very excited for the pastel colors! I love that Pravana has just launched their pastel line and I’m looking forward to showing them to my clients since they love fun color combinations! Braids have also been phenomenally creative over the past few months and I can’t wait to see how they’re incorporated into summer styling.
As wedding season approaches, how will you be styling your brides?
My gorgeous brides have been choosing what I like to call the “clear smoke” look. Dark, defined eyes that are sexy and soft with a highlighted lid and defined crease. They’ve been opting to complement the bold eyes with a neutral slightly ombre lip, which I’m in love with at the moment!
If you're anything like the team at Loxa Beauty, you probably can't get enough of Renee's great advice and positive energy! Like Dyehard Beauty Studio on Facebook and follow Renee on Twitter. Her #hairtipoftheday posts can not be missed!