We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Cunningham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, how do you think about risk?
I have always been a risk taker. Mostly, because it seems riskier not to be!! I hate the idea of looking back and having “what if?” questions. Risk for me is always, “What will I lose or miss out on if I don’t do this?”. Whether it’s a career or life adventure, nothing can torture me more than a missed opportunity. I don’t want to convey that I make “fear based” decisions, but I guess we all live with a certain amount of FOMO! I’ve lived on both coasts working on my career dreams. I followed that dream into Salon Ownership. I faced what I didn’t know about business. I faced what I didn’t know about leadership. I sum up the risk factors and start plucking away at the things I can control off the list. I just can’t get past not knowing where something might take me. I have always had a very strong intuition or gut sense. If I feel like I must in my gut, it’s almost impossible for me not to dive in. It takes experience to learn to trust your instincts. When is it time to breathe through impulsivity and when is it time to trust your foresight? I didn’t always trust this Knowing, but… we learn. There’s always a way to talk yourself out of something. Timing will never be “right”, you’ll never have enough money, etc. Yet, “life” is constantly opening doors for us. I try to breath through the doubt and ask myself why it’s there? Sometimes there is good reason to be unsure, but sometimes it’s that old self doubt that needs a little unpacking. For better or worse, fear is a motivator for me. It sets off all my alarms and I instantly dig into the feelings around it. Because I want to conquer it. If, after a lot of honesty, I feel like the challenge is appropriate for me and my family, it’s time to meet it! Challenging ourselves can reveal the best in us, but also what needs work. That’s scary. The “risks” with the most payoff, of course… come with the most perceived risk. Can you handle it? Are you ready for something to radically change your life? When things seem exciting but also scary AF, I just try to sit with it and see what keeps coming up. It’s important to make calculated decisions and those are based on information.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I think I always knew that salon ownership would be part of my journey. Although the Salon and I spent a good time apart, it’s where I started and I have so much respect for the craft. After years in the Beauty Space working as a Freelance Hair and Makeup Artist and maintaining a private clientele, I was ready to lead and mentor. I love this work with all my heart. It is constantly inspiring me. I hope I can help others foster their love for this business and see their dreams come true. From the Salon to the Runway, the level of craftsmanship and creative ability necessary for brilliant work takes dedication. For those who are at this level, they didn’t get there alone. They trained, apprenticed, and studied with great craftspeople who went before them. They are open, even at the top level, to the fact that they must keep striving to learn more and then to teach more. That is what I’m in this to do. Learn more and teach more. I love being with other hair and beauty artists. We are collaborative by nature and we speak our own language. There is so much you can learn from other artists. I love taking classes and working with inspiring people. I was lonely as an independent stylist. I was thirsty for the team environment again. I wanted to create a space where the team could grow in a safe, noncompetitive environment. I am trying to drive my business model in a direction rarely found in the salon world; a guaranteed wage, health benefits, retirement benefits, paid time off, the things other great careers provide. Even though we’re not all the way there yet, I’ve never been more secure in this decision than now. We’ve suffered 3 closures in the state of California. Over 7 months closed in the last 12 months. The employment model provided immediate unemployment benefits. The salon was being run properly, not set adrift during that time. The team was secure in knowing they had a place to return to work. Supporting the staff in all the ways necessary for a peaceful and fulfilling work life is fulfilling for me. When everything is working right, of course!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Ugh! I miss going out! I am a bit of home body, but I really miss a good Girl’s Night Out! I love a yummy dinner at Esperanza in Silverlake followed by the Funk Soul night at the Echo. I also enjoy a good rooftop experience. Something I will enjoy betting back out to is MoonLight RollerWay for some Roller-Disco! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Before I answer this question… I am such a Hair Nerd! Seriously! So, apart from spiritual thought leaders, my mentors are pretty Salon Biz specific. Nina Kovner- “Head Awesomeness Empowerer” at Passion Squared. Coaching and Community for creative business owners. Nina is amazing. I may have thrown in the towel if it wasn’t for her. Her background is in high level beauty brand marketing but she goes so deeply into leadership and purpose and is my number one source for business guidance. Kati Whitledge- Beyond the Technique Podcast Like so many, my drive to work or solo in my car is usually spent listening and learning. Kati is so inspiring to me because she is a fellow salon owner and is an incredible business woman. HairBrained Conversations Podcast- These conversations are with the hero’s of our industry. It is so inspiring to hear people’s stories. The “E-Myth”, Micheal e Gerber- An “older” business book, let’s call it a classic. The “E” in “E-Myth” stands for Entrepreneurial. It explains why trades people can have such a hard time at business. Going into biz for yourself can take the joy right out of what you love. This book helped me realize how to have a successful biz.
Facebook: Gamine Beauty
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Noel J. Federizo