Style Biz: How to Leverage Hair Shows Into Dollars

Insider tools for fashion and beauty industry success

Salon owner Janel Smith says hair shows can be prime venues for finding business opportunities.

When the words “hair show” come to mind, people often think of avant-garde weaving battles–where birds pop out of cage-like coifs or helicopters fly from braided launching pads.

But for haircare industry entrepreneurs such as Janel Smith, owner of Cocoa Mane salon in Brooklyn, New York, hair shows are more than just entertainment. Smith has visited and competed at many national and international shows, including those produced by Bronner Bros. Inc. (No. 74 on the B.E. Industrial Service Companies list with $50 million in revenues), where, since 2006, she’s won more than $20,000 in their competitions alone.

Winnings aside, Smith’s attendance and participation has led to teaching opportunities; the launch of her own natural haircare line, Revivamane; and lucrative deals with haircare companies and clients. “I’ve landed some of my largest corporate accounts as a result of displaying my skills at the Bronner Bros. hair shows,” she reveals.

Smith recently finished successfully competing and instructing at this year’s Bronner Bros. International Hair Show, which took place Aug. 7-10, and took a moment to offer these tips on how to make the most of hair shows to boost your bottom line:

BlackEnterprise.com: How can visiting and participating in hair shows benefit a salon owner or stylist?
Smith:
It can benefit you a great deal depending on what type of salon owner you are. For instance, I need to know every new technique, equipment, and product that comes out. This helps me stay on top as a stylist and a salon owner. I can attract more clients because I bring back more knowledge.

It’s also great marketing for me because I’m building my brand. Bronner Bros. [shows] are the place to show off in the black hairstyling community. Attendance includes professionals, customers, educators, product developers, and celebrities.

How much does it cost to participate in a hair show (including putting a presentation together, travel expenses, fees, etc)?
Expenses vary. It all depends on how you travel, and how many models and sales agents you bring. On the average, it could cost anywhere between $5,000 to $15,000 [depending on the size of the show and what you plan to do in the show]. For example, on a typical trip to a Bronner Bros. show with just three models, three assistants, my products (not including Revivamane), drivers, car rentals/flights, hotel rooms, food, clothing for the models, and miscellaneous expenses–it would cost $5,000 to $6,000.

Smith’s Quick Tips:

  • Go online and sign up for courses. Once at the course, ask about the instructor’s background and how they made it to where they are. Also, ask about hairstyling and haircare techniques. Get as much knowledge as you can.
  • Upon arrival, don’t rush to buy from vendors. First take a walk around the showroom, talk with vendors and professionals about their products and services, and then buy products or tools.
  • Have proper business cards and a sound lookbook. Showcase the services you offer the best way possible. Your lookbook or portfolio should include clear, professional photos that represent what your brand (whether it is you as a stylist, makeup artist, or business professional) offers to the market.
  • Dress professionally. Go for a polished look, whether it’s business casual or high fashion. Your appearance says a lot about what you’re offering, and you don’t want to give the wrong impression.
  • Don’t be afraid to compete. It’s great exposure for who’s who at events, such as haircare company executives and celebrities. The perks of winning are awesome for marketing your services and brand. But even if you don’t win, business peers will know who you are.
  • When networking, be friendly and approachable, not pushy. For example, “Don’t pull out a lookbook [or other marketing materials] while an educator is teaching a class,” Smith says.
  • Broaden your reach by attending diverse shows. Check out multicultural trade shows and events such as the International Hair and Beauty Show and the International Beauty Show.

RESOURCES:

Bronner Bros. Inc.

Golden Scissors Awards

International Hair and Beauty Show

International Beauty Show

ACROSS THE WEB
  • Michele

    This is a wonderful post – giving basic pointers to up-and-coming stylists. Hopefully, we will hear more from and of Janel Smith. She is so talented and beautiful too! I saw her on ANTM and Shears, Tears. It is great seeing her business/brand grow right before our eyes.

  • Pradine

    Your styles and techniques are as refreshing as your personality. Keep up the great work. And thank for your wonderful styles. I am a loyal dedicated customer. See you very soon!

  • Doug Lewis

    I found Janel Smith’s advise to be sound across areas of interests. This is someone saying how it’s don who’s done it and is doing it. I may not know a lot about hair, but I know when a person seems solid. And a solid person can be relied on to do real business. … hard to find these days…

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  • Valerie Thierry

    Thank you for posting this. Black people, we have come a long way with our hair. If its one thing I thank God for is time. That he allowed me to be born
    at the time I was. Because there was a time long ago when they didn’t have all of this wonderful stuff for our hair.