A hair stylist for 16 years, Lacey Smith knew she didn’t want to be a traditional boss in her industry.
“Stylists, if you don’t know, are a different creature,” she said. “We don’t color inside the lines, we’re always stepping outside.
“When you work in an environment that restricts you, it causes friction; then you get attitude and sulkiness.”
Instead, Smith operates Salon Lavish as a rental salon, with beauty professionals leasing booth space from her as private contractors. She recently completed an expansion that doubled its size, just in time for its third anniversary.
Eighteen stylists and two aestheticians work there, offering a variety of beauty services.
“We’re still a team,” Smith said, but one “without any drama.”
Smith had worked in the same strip-center location when it was a different salon, “so I knew its potential.”
When that salon closed, “I talked to the landlord and just jumped all the way in.”
She started with nine chairs and soon realized that she could rent to more stylists if she had the room. Thanks to an investor, she was able to take over about 1,200 square feet of space next door, knocking down a wall to create one large salon floor.
Smith said the investor’s decision to go ahead came at a dramatic moment in her life. She had been splitting time between the salon, her four children and her ailing father.
“The day that he passed away, I got a call from the investor saying he was going to invest,” she said. “It was like the lowest low and highest high at the same time.”
In addition to traditional styling, the salon has several contractors who specialize.
“I myself am an extension specialist,” Smith said. “That’s a pretty extensive service. It takes four to six hours, and it’s quite expensive.”
A couple of other stylists offer what’s called an agave smoothing treatment.
“It basically takes your unruly, frizzy hair and smooths it out. That’s a really popular service.”
Chemical peels, facials and facial hair removal, eyelash extension, manicures, pedicures and other nail care are also performed there.
Smith said stylists working as independent contractors can make more than they do as traditional employees of salons. They also have the flexibility to set their own hours, which is why she lists the salon’s hours as “8-ish to 8-ish.”
For her own part, she tries to respect her contractors’ independent ways.
“I just hold my tongue, and it’s made me successful,” she said.
Smith currently has room for a couple more stylists.
Smith, who works as a stylist in addition to managing the salon, said she couldn’t do it without a “huge support system” at home. Her husband, who has been laid off from his railroad job, takes care of their children, with the help of their 16-year-old daughter. That allows her to concentrate on making sure the expanded salon succeeds.
“I love it,” she said. “I have all the energy in the world because I’m passionate about it.”