In Conversation with Lisa Conway of Vantage Salon
Describe your business in a few words?
Vantage Salon is a community infused with knowledgeable, proficient stylists with strong foundations. We are committed to continuing education, cultivating great technical skills, stellar guest experiences, and customized services.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
In 2008, when I took the leap to start my own business, there were really only two options for someone who wanted to have their hair done professionally – a “high end” salon where clients felt they were often over-charged and pressured into services or product purchases, and the commercial discount chains with bad lighting and no consistency.
I wanted to create a new kind of salon where guests felt they could speak openly and confidentially about all their hair care questions and concerns. I wanted clients to feel confident that they were in well-educated, well-practiced hands, and their requests were listened to and understood.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
For over a decade, I lived in New York working behind the chair in two salons while also styling hair for fashion shows and editorial publications. Looking for a change of pace, I moved to Denver in 2007 and was hired to manage a new salon that was trying to build business. In this new position, I regularly spoke with both stylists and clients about what they wanted their time in the hair salon to be. I could easily, and personally, relate to stylists trying to balance their love for the work with the demands of the job but, it was the candid conversations with clients that afforded me an entirely new, and enlightening, perspective.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I always knew I wanted to affect change, and never stop learning or growing. I’m not sure I recognized these attributes as entrepreneurial until I started connecting with others who also carried fires in their bellies. It was truly through these kismet-ted relationships that I fully grew into my entrepreneur spirit.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
I love this question because, in a way, it takes me back to a different time – I launched my first business 2 years before platforms like Pinterest or Instagram existed. I feel lucky to have participated in marketing strategies over a 12 year period and to be able to recognize the incredible resources available to new businesses now.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
Alongside many others, the entire beauty industry was deeply challenged by last year’s Covid-19 closures. I was incredibly inspired by the creativity and ingenuity of my fellow stylists and small business owners through such an immeasurable time. I learned so much about the resiliency of our entrepreneur hearts and the power of communities coming together to support our local economies.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
When I look at reviews for Vantage Salon, guests talk about our appointments being about so much more than hair color or style – they talked about feeling informed and having new confidence in the way they look and feel. I’m proud of this and grateful to be able to build relationships that allow my fellow stylists and our clients to trust us not only to help them express themselves from day to day, but also, to be beside them on the morning of their wedding, or to shave their head during a battle with cancer.
This salon serves as a special place not just to receive hair care services but also as a location where individuals feel comfortable sharing personal experiences and talking about issues of importance in their lives and in the community. Because so many people from so many different walks of life come through, people can find resources and recommendations for almost anything. In return, I am given the gift of connecting people in this way.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
When someone can speak in such a way that others love to listen to them, and listen in such a way that others love to speak to them, I know that we have great potential to grow alongside each other. That is the team I’m building.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Looking at Denver, a rapidly growing city, and the beauty industry, massive and full of innovators and forward-thinkers, I can’t imagine a more exciting combination for hair salons. This is a time when stylists can push the envelope by collectively sharing our inspiration, education, and experience with each other and with our clients. We look forward to uncovering what is next for our business too!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Wow, what did 2020 teach me? That anything is possible…and we are all connected.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Everything. I wish I knew everything then that I know now. But, knowledge comes from learning and wisdom comes from living.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Truthfully, I haven’t managed to stay completely grounded over this past year. I’d love to meet the person who has. However, when I know I need to find my foundation again, I turn to gratitude every time.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
A few years ago, I came upon a quote – “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to live the width of it as well.” I thought yes, that’s exactly how I feel! In my search for balance, I would say I continue to struggle most with simply fitting everything I want to do into each day.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a serious lady. I’m focused, driven, and very structured. Often, people are surprised to find that I’m also pretty silly – it takes VERY little to amuse me, and, at times, I have a terribly immature sense of humor.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
Work out, drink lots of water, and journal.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being an Entreprenista means that behind my success, is a tribe of other successful women who have my back. And I have theirs.