Women Owned Business: Styled By SB - Shena Bernard
What does the top look like to you?
The top looks like not worrying about any type of struggle, living the next day without the worry about the next dollar, comfortable knowing you can get by. Overall, to know you are successful, is knowing you've reached your goal and once at the top, you can only go up from there.
What was the toughest part of starting your own business/getting to where you are today?
Getting the customer, in that aspect I want to make sure they are satisfied and positive things are said. My goal is to always get a referral in the chair, it could be for braids, weave, short style or a wash and set. I always want it to be noticed, even if it's a college friend, I treat them like they're a first time customer. Keeping up with the trends and always being accessible. Those 14K follower stylist have the clientele, but they can't contact them. So, I make sure I'm accessible.
Follow up - How did you go about getting those customer?
Mostly started in college, I've been doing hair since Junior year in High School and kept doing it in my dorm room in college. I was basically who was willing to or available to volunteer. It happens mainly through word of mouth in Seeley Hall at UB (University of Bridgeport).
What is the story about how you developed your brand?
I would say friends and family pushed me to take it more serious. Before, I would only do it when I would need a few extra coins. My customers were mainly friends and they pushed me to be more serious. Then I started an instagram page, which I didn't keep up with, but now I'm starting to take it more serious and get it off the ground.
Knowing what you know now...what would you tell your former self?
I should have taken this more serious and develop my brand a long time ago from high school. I feel I could have made more out of it. I don't have regrets, but wish I took it more serious. What aspects did you wish you took more seriously?...promotion, getting a chair fresh out of college, more clients and probably be one of these insta-girls with 250K followers and I would take more advantage of social media.
Give the reader a little more background on who you are and what your goals are...
Currently, working for a marketing agency as a operations coordinator, office management. I went to school for fashion merchandising, I worked in that industry and it wasn't a good fit. I wanted to do more creative things, so I took an internship with the company I'm at now and it's been beneficial! I've done more production and more doors have opened. It's a family owned agency, I've made connections and I feel like I have a say there. And I've just done hair on the side. So how does this fit in with your goals you have?...well long-term... everyone in the office knows that I do hair, its something I've been asked to help out with. I've been helping out doing more styling and with the accessibly of working at my agency, it has opened doors and opportunities for my business. Long term, I would love to own a salon, more so managing and opening a chain of salon. I'm thinking more so Down South, a salon that has more Black Stylist. Is there a lack of Black stylist? I want to create an environment to help stylists and customers connect. Down South does lack Black stylist. I want to create a system where folks can easily request a stylist. So bridging the gap between the customer and the stylist, especially affordable stylist.
I must say I was quite surprised to learn that there was a lack of Black and affordable stylists in the South. Shena also relayed that several of her friends who currently live in the South, have learned to be their own stylist out of necessity, because there are very few options...the more you know.
What advice would you give to young ladies coming up in your field?
Take advantage of training opportunities. Everyone you come across is an opportunity. Don't be afraid to speak yourself up. Have business cards and get social media accounts. People always have their phones on them, so make sure the brand is out there and you're exposing yourself. Customer service, make sure you maintain that. If you're dependable people will keep coming to you. Pet peeve - when you're trying to get in contact with your stylist and cannot contact them. Also owning up to your mistakes, every customer isn't going to be happy and you have to try and fix the situation as best as you can.
Have you ever found yourself to be in competition with male counterparts?
Honestly, No! Not really. I would say the competition is more female and the competition is with prices. Customers will ask based on other stylist.
Have you ever found yourself in competition with other females in the same field?
It's with pricing and availability and customers making sure they're getting their money's worth.
Why are you passionate about this particular industry/field?
I'm passionate about it because I'm giving someone satisfaction. When they walk away the are more confident. Women - new mood, new energy and I like making people happy.
What's been your biggest or worst failure on this journey?
A customer not leaving happy. I've had 2 customers who didn't like their hair after and it got the best of me at one point. So, I thought I would take a break, but now I'm just learning to get better. Taking more classes and getting better. The customer had faith in me, so I went back and redid it, taking my time and did better. BUT! I could tell that she still wasn't happy. It came down to the style, I didn't believe it was the best fit for her, but she still wanted it. It just didn't look right and she wasn't happy...
Luck, Chance, Plan or Blessings?
I would say this is a chance turning into a blessing. I wasn't always taking it serious and it's God's plan that I'm always getting better at it. So a chance turning into a blessing and I do sacrifice a lot of my free time. Because my customers come to me at 9/10pm and leave after 12am. Then I go to bed at 1 and have to be back up at 7am. So, I'm sacrificing free time and managing and sacrificing my 9 to 5 which is guaranteed money for my side hustle.
To schedule an appointment with Shena visit StyledBySB.as.me
For a full list of services and to see more of her work visit her Instagram page @Styled.bySB