Stylists - I'm Talking Bridal Agencies, Teams & Franchises

Please note the following post is my personal opinion, it is general and doesn't include everyone. This is based on my own personal experience and is just food for thought. Eat what you like, and leave the rest.

It's aimed at stylists, but I hope brides will learn something from it too..

I am writing this for 2 reasons - Firstly, I am often asked how to create a team of stylists, what goes into it and is it a good idea, so I want to help stylists see what it's really about and do it right. Secondly, I get an unbelievable amount of brides come to me after going to an agency or 'team' and hating their trial, the stylist wasn't able to do what they wanted and generally couldn't put the brides mind at ease. Like, enough to start a 'bad stylist' support group!!

When I first started doing this in 2005, there were no bridal hair and make up agencies.There were individual freelance hair and make up artists.

Now every other stylist has a ‘team’ that has been ‘hand picked’ and ‘selected’. Well, I know for a fact that not a lot of hand picking goes on. Some of these people, decide they 'want' to have a team ; Surely it's easy enough - You just get enquiries and pass them on, right? They make a website, get some love in Instagram, shove it all together and hope for the best. I don’t know how these people sleep at night. The room for error is HUGE. Or maybe I am just over thinking it?

There is no second chance for a wedding. You can’t be late, get lost, get the wrong address, forget your kit. That’s it. You have so many hours to get the bride and her babes ready, looking hot, feeling relaxed and waving you off like you were the 5th bridesmaid. NO second chances. No moaning , panicking or losing your sh!t.

So with so many skills required for this job, not least the ability to style hair to perfection and apply make up like an artist, it amazes me how many people randomly find their stylists on Facebook, Starnow and Instagram and ask them if they fancy doing a wedding for them on Saturday? Not really the hand picked team you dreamed of is it? Think about it, if the person was that good..They probably wouldn’t be working for a team. Hmmm..

They start working as a bridal make up artist, add some hair and a week later they have a ‘team of stylists’ Again this isn't everyone. But it is  a few.

To give you an idea- I once had someone apply for a job, she gave me her CV and portfolio of her images, and guess what? It was my own work! She obviously hadn’t done her homework and it was all a bit awks to say the least, but if it hadn’t been my work, I’d of thought she was awesome! ;)  Learn from this – If you are going to start a team – TRADE TEST EVERYONE!

Works like 'professional' 'experienced' reliable' skilled' get chucked about all the time, I see it so much it doesn't even mean anything anymore. Show me! Prove it! What makes you so special? What's your USP?

Not just for their skills, but for their personality, tenacity and cleanliness of their kit. They are representing you and need to think like you. Their standards need to be as high as yours, 'cause remember they may love their job. But they don't necessarily love this job and can walk away at any time. Unlike you as the 'founder' 'owner' 'topdog'

Customer service is high on my list of priorities. If some one has booked you as an agency, they are paying a premium and expect a premium service and to be cherished. Rightly so, but when you have 70 , 30 or even 10 stylists working every week, that is a lot of bride to look after. To give your 100%. And that’s why I let mine go. I couldn’t give them the time, support and love they needed and deserved and also give the same to my brides, my family and me and it's not something I would half ass. You or a member of your squad needs to be able to answer questions day or night

What if your stylist gets lost? Or her phone/satnav breaks on the way to a wedding at 6am? 

What if a bride calls up and is unhappy about their trial with another stylist? – It happens. She has already paid for the trial but why should she pay for another one? It's not her fault the stylist was cr@p..

What if a stylist calls at 2am to say that she has cut her vein open doing the washing up – Sounds random, but this happened to one of my girls. Fortunately I was able to step in and the clever stylist had taken photos for me to copy should such an emergency occur.

What happens when the fun loving party girl that just joined, calls to say she doesn’t feel well so can’t make the trial/wedding day and you have more than an inkling that she is hungover.(Thanks Facebook!)

When the stylist is in a car crash on the M25 30 minutes before the wedding?

Or when 1.5 feet of snow unexpectedly lands over night and there are weddings to get to and brides waiting? My team prepped their cars the night before, stayed near by or walked through said 1.5 foot of snow. But would everyone?

See the pattern here? They don't happen very often, but they do happen, because these have all happened to me. Don't get me wrong, this could happen to all of us but brides are booking a 'team' or an 'agency' because when these things do happen they have a B plan - You've told them that you will be there and that is the USP of booking a team

As a ‘founder’ of a team. These are your problems, and sadly your bride’s problem when she doesn’t have a stylist.

As a bride – Go with stylists that have been recommended, get a feel for them at your trial or go for a consultation first. Ensure there is a back up plan if she doesn't turn up on the day, or whats the sitch if you don't like your trial? Who pays for another one? There are lots of considerations when booking a stylist or MUA but remember -The top dog/founder/owner/platinum stylist/whatever name they have, has much more to lose than a team member so they WILL be there. Every time. (In my case, even when I am literally throwing up. Oops!)

It sounds so harsh but I’ve heard some stories over the years that are enough to make my hair curl. I once had a lovely stylist come for me for beginnerstraining course. She had been working as part of a franchise for 5 months. She had 2 days hair training with them, was charging more than me and had come to me for help, as she wasn’t feeling 'confident' in hair. Erm..No sh!t!

So, think twice before ‘getting a team together’ or booking a team. 10 x zero is still zero, you get me!? It might sound like a good idea, but maybe you haven't thought it through. If you think it's easy, you DEFINITELY haven't thought it through

Unless you trust that stylist 1000%, know that they are genuinely an awesome stylist/MUA and professional (Like, actually professional, not just another word on their CV kinda 'professional') Then don't do it. If you would bring them into your circle of trust, and they are basically another YOU. Go for it!! But be prepared never to relax on a weekend again!!

I will be running courses on How To Set Up Successful Bridal Hair & Make Up Agency - What you need to know, the pitfalls and the important legal side. Drop me an email jo@lovehair.co.uk for details

On a side note - Another 'YOU' won't be there for long and will soon replicate your business. Again, been there girlfriend! It's not OK, it's just how it goes. Don't let it bother you. It's the 'Great Big Make Up Circle Of Life' 

Insurance anyone??

Peace, love and awesome hair

Jo x