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Life & Work with Allison Savoy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Allison Savoy.

Hi Allison, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
People ask me if I always knew that I wanted to be a hairstylist. The short answer is no. Although I came to this career in such a round about way, it has many of the qualities of the type of career that I HAD always wanted. I started off wanting to be a psychologist. Helping people to feel good and solving problems was something I could see myself doing for a lifetime. Owning my own practice would be a great way for me to control just how much I worked and would enable me to take time off for family when needed. The classes that I started taking in college started to take on a more medical direction and soon, I was learning about physiological psychology and neuropsychology. The route that I was on seemed to be focusing less on clinical and more and medical and I was not sure that this was the right direction for me.

At this time, I decided to take a break from school and really decide what I felt was the right direction for me. During my break, I was gifted a facial for my birthday. I had never been into self-care physically and this was my first experience in an estheticians chair. I absolutely loved the whole process and felt amazing afterwards both physically and mentally. I decided that this is what I wanted to do. I went to school and became an esthetician. I loved the salon environment and helping people to relax and feel good, but I felt there was something missing but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I worked as an esthetician for four years until the recession struck in 2008. At this time, my business was all but halted. Skincare is a luxury and one of the first things to go when there is a money crisis. However, the girls in my salon that were hairstylists were still as busy as ever. Since I had some downtime now, I decided that I would go back to school for cosmetology and learn how to do hair as well as skin so that if I was slow in one department, I could pick up clients in the other department. Immediately I fell in love with hairstyling. I got my license and moved to LA to be closer to the high-end educators and salons in the business. I completely left skincare behind and solely focused on hair. I found what had been missing in my skincare career. With being a hairstylist, I can fix a problem immediately and send my clients out after only a short time feeling and looking amazing. Instant gratification.

In the chair, my clients are able to talk about their problems, cry about their losses, work on their laptops to get work done, laugh about silly videos on TikTok, or relax silently with a glass of wine or coffee after a long day, all while I make them look even more beautiful than they already are. I assisted for a salon owner and soaked up every bit of education I could about the business. I didn’t have clients at the time and I wasn’t making much money but I wanted to take classes to learn and classes were expensive. I wanted to take the best classes from the best educators to learn and build my resume. I would play poker at night after I would get out of work and use the money I won to pay for classes. When I felt I was ready to be on my own I took a job at a salon in LA and started to build my clientele using the education that I was been soaking up. I have worked on TV stations, runway shows, weddings, and in the salon and I have loved every minute. My ultimate goal was to own my own business. Although I liked the fast pace of the LA fashion and hair world, I could not see myself living and working in LA my whole life. I decided to take the experience and education that I acquired and move back to San Diego to start my own business here. It took me a year and a half to build my clientele and start Alli’s Hair Chair as a business. I have been working in the salon industry for almost 20 years and owned my own business for 6. I now have the career of my dreams doing what I love.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It has definitely not been a smooth road getting to where I am today. Starting off in this career, you have zero clients and have to find a way to market yourself, build a clientele all while continuing to educate yourself and most likely have another job to pay for your bills. Since I was working during the day at a salon, I needed to find a job at night to pay my bills and enable me to continue to work and build at the salon during the day. Bartending was the solution for me. I would work during the day from 9am-7pm at the salon and then go to work bartending from 9pm-2am. This went on for a few years and was very taxing on my physical as well as mental health but I continued to persevere. Another challenge I faced was when I moved back down to San Diego after being in LA for five years was starting my business from scratch all over again. This time I was armed with knowledge and some savings so I was in a little better position than when I first started off however, I had to work as a commission stylist while I built my clientele in a new city. When working as a commission stylist, it is very easy to get comfortable with staying in the same position and not growing. The salon owner brings your clients, markets for you and supplies all your color and products and all you have to do is pay a percentage of your services. The problem for me was, the percentage I was taking home was not enough to live on sustainably. Starting a business takes capital and that something I was building at a snails pace. I could have stayed where I was and allowed someone else to run my business for me and not take a scary leap, but that wasnt for me. I build a clientele and saved everything I had and after a year and a half, I branched out on my own. Six years later, I am my own boss and have my own salon.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
What sets me apart from others is that I do not specialize in one thing. I specialize in all of them. I have made sure to educate myself in so many areas of this field in order to better serve a wider range of clients. In this field, there is no shortage of changing trends and therefore I am always learning new techniques in order to stay above the curve and give my clients what they desire. From traditional highlights to lived in balayage, grey coverage and color corrections, bridal hair, keratin treatments and extensions, I can do it all.

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
I believe in risk taking within reason. Am I a jump out of a perfectly good airplane person? No ma’am. However, I have taken risks for my career in order to catapult forward with progress. In the airplane scenario if I fail, I’m dead. In business if I take a risk and fail, I learn something and try again. A major risk I took was branching out on my own and starting my own business. I was risking the loss of clients, the loss of money and ultimately the loss of my dream. This was a calculated risk because I believed in myself and knew that there was too much to gain the reward was worth the risk.

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