Erin Cosgrove talks about Stellar Hair Studio’s eco-friendly, client-focused practices.
How’d you get into the industry? I always wanted to have my own salon. I went to beauty school outside of high school after getting a partial scholarship, then I worked in a chain salon for a while before working for a small business owner.
How was that experience? I learned that if I was going to take this seriously, if I was going to make a good living, I needed to bust my ass. So, for five years I would waitress during the day and cut hair at night as I built my client list. After building that list, I was able to bring a large number of my clients with me when I joined a much nicer, boutique salon in West Chester where I spent the next 12 years.
Was there a big difference transitioning to a boutique salon? Well, there was a difference in the price point for my customers, but I also brought a different level of experience by that time in my career. I was also working to market the salon: I built the website, ran social media and promoted myself and the business.
Sounds like good experience for starting your own salon. Greatest opportunity to learn. I had to wear so many different hats and have my hands in everything.
What made you take the leap? Essentially, my children — I have four kids. When my kids had grown to the point that they were going to school full time, I was outgrowing the space I was in, and it just felt like it was the right time. I didn’t want to stay where I was, because running that salon was living someone else’s dream, and I wanted to build my own dream.
So, what have you built? Well I’ve only ever worked in customer service, so I’ve made sure the experience here is focused on the individual. We have an in-depth consultation with each new client, and we take into account their desires and explain through our expertise how we’re going to achieve that. We work hard to make sure everyone feels comfortable.
What was your inspiration for the space? I wanted to bring in repurposed materials to add character and to make sure they didn’t end up in a landfill. We have chairs form an old barbershop — two were built in 1958. All my mirrors are from The Four Seasons Hotel in philadelphia.
I understand your focus on preservation goes beyond the decor. We partner with Green Circle Salons — they recycle all hair and salon waste and keep 95% of it out of landfills and out of our water. It’s crazy to think of all the chemical waste that just goes down the drain in most salons. We can’t recycle a large part of our waste through conventional means, but Green Circle enables us to recycle everything from curling irons and blow dryers to shampoo caps. They even collect all the hair and make it into booms for oil spills.
Seems like the responsible thing to do. There’s supposed to be an upcharge for each client, but I don’t pass that on to the customer because it’s just so important to me. I don’t know why every salon isn’t doing it.