HAPPI article about IMAGE Studios
A Suite Deal
Image Studios provides an innovative venue for beauty professionals seeking a new way to do business. Click here to be directed to the article on HAPPI’s website.
When the global recession hit in 2008, millions lost their jobs to market forces beyond their control. Some may have not known what to do and consequently threw in the towel, so to speak, while others rose to the challenge and figured out ways to stay above the turbulent, economic tides. Two such individuals are Jason and Shaun Olsen, brothers who, back in 2009, were partners in a car dealership in Utah. As a result of the economic crisis, the Olsen brothers began looking for other opportunities to utilize their business acumen and diversify; in so doing, they stumbled across the beauty industry and its virtually recession-proof stability, as Jason described it. Deciding against owning a salon, they instead turned their attention to another concept: a salon suite. “I fell in love with the concept immediately. It took the best parts of the beauty industry and combined it with the strength and resilience of real estate,” Jason recalled. A Place to Call Your Own After performing ample reconnaissance, the brothers decided to jump into the multi-billion dollar salon industry. In their desire to offer something unique, the brothers created a business model that married real estate to the beauty industry, crafting a place where beauty professionals would be provided the space, tools and business insight necessary to begin their own businesses, without the stress of maintaining a property, paying utilities, worrying about insurance, shelling out a large amount of capital upfront, or anything else that goes along with location ownership. “The problem we are solving is facilitating the step of business ownership, and people are willing to pay for that,” Jason stated. In June 2010, Jason and Shaun—founder and co-founder, respectively—launched Image Studios 360, with the first location opening in Draper, UT, just 20 miles south of Salt Lake City. Image Studios is a salon suite that provides opportunities for individuals in the beauty industry who want a simpler way to do business by renting out salon space onsite. With this salon space, combined with an “unprecedented business infrastructure,” as their website describes it, Image Studios has differentiated itself from other salon suites, providing a whole slew of features and opportunities that simply are not found elsewhere. A Proactive Role The website describes Image Studios’ role in its clients’ businesses as a more proactive one that is designed to support them through all phases of business ownership. That proactive role involves facilitation of business ownership, which is accomplished in two ways: first, by providing a custom space; and second, by providing an extensive business program exclusively for the beauty professional clients. The business program consists of online resources, along with quarterly beauty education and annual business training events that are conducted by industry professionals and cover a broad range of topics from basic business concepts to more advanced pricing and marketing strategies. Adding an additional dimension to this offering, Image Studios partnered with renowned hair stylist and instructor Vivienne MacKinder to provide an exclusive education format for its clients. “We’re looking at partnerships with people like this in the industry who can help take these talented individuals and help channel their time and energy towards a goal of obtaining some sort of recognition or awards,” stated Jason. Concerning the space, for $145 and $400 per week, professionals can enjoy single studios or larger studios, respectively. These studios feature glass doors and windows, door signage, high exposed ceilings, LED lighting, shampoo units, full-length mirrors, styling chairs, shelves, client seating, Wi-Fi and a private break room. If that isn’t enough to entice a potential client to sign on the dotted line, the studio also features special design elements that accommodate different types of beauty services; with designated portions of the floor plan for quiet space, for example, specifically designed for people doing nails, aesthetics or massage. These areas are built out with heavier insulation, double-thickness drywall and solid-core doors. Other features include dimmable lights and fans built into the rooms themselves for better sound absorption and therefore, a more specialized atmosphere. Image Studios’ customers are responsible for drawing in their own clients and providing an experience. According to Jason, “The beauty of [this design] is that the hairstylists often bring the clients to the space and those clients then cross-traffic, or -pollinate. Once they come for a haircut, they may also get a massage, get their eyebrows threaded, or have eyelash extensions done.” It’s the Experience that Counts During the past five years, the Olsens have witnessed considerable change within their salon concerning their clientele makeup. When they began in 2010, their clientele consisted of 90% hair stylists, with the remaining 10% a combination of aestheticians and massage therapists. Over the last couple of years that percentage has shifted. According to Jason, the number of aestheticians increased to 25%, hair stylists has dropped to about 65%, and the remainder now consists of nail techs, massage therapists, and eyelash techs. Jason stated that this shift is representative of the industry as well, where aesthetics have grown at a yearly pace of about 30% while hair has been more stable around 10%. “Aesthetics is proving to be a very strong segment and it is here to stay; there is a lot of opportunity here,” stated Jason. Jason also maintains that the increasing use of at-home beauty products isn’t an issue for their business long-term. “In the short-term it may disrupt [the salon industry] and bring money more to those at-home things rather than the salon, but the part I think the industry is shifting toward is an experience-based service,” he explained. “There is a need to create an experience that really means something to the consumer.” This gets at the heart of precisely what Image Studios strives to be—a catalyst for the positive experience that beauty professionals provide to their customers. Success and Future Growth The concept steering the Image Studios team may seem simple, but it could have a profound effect on the industry, the Olsens insist. The space that they are allowing the beauty professionals to create, feeds the desire that customers have for a high-energy environment, but with focused one-on-one time that customers crave. This may create new expectations that will be placed on traditional beauty salons and parlors, especially if they only offer one service on premise. “[The customers’] experience changes their perspective on what a traditional salon or spa should look like. From the minute they walk into a salon at Image Studios, an experience has already begun taking place before they even get to their professional,” Jason stated. Currently, Jason is busy trying to develop partnerships with Salon Centric and Redken for the development of a retail sales program in conjunction with SalonBooker.com, expected to be up and running within the year. He wants to merge the three in an attempt “to figure out a way [for their clients] to make product sales and integrate it with the smartphone app so that they can track those sales, know their margins, and understand what they are making as a result of product,” Jason stated. This will be an additional business-service that Image Studios will offer. The Image Studios’ concept has plenty of fans. Since its inception, the company has opened five suites in the Salt Lake area and reached capacity in each within months of opening. Now, the Olsen brothers are pursuing interested franchising leads for their business expansion in Las Vegas, Nevada, Florida, Texas, California and Canada.