What is Mom-Boss Monday?
It is a series of interviews with some of the best mom-bosses around! We are going to find out what businesses moms are running, how they are managing being the boss of a household and of a business, and all the things that inspire these moms to keep being amazing.
Without further ado, I’m excited to present the third mom-boss in the series!
An Interview With Rachel Russell
Rachel Russell is a mom to one lovely little girl and one spunky little boy, the owner and manager at Halo Hair Studio, and one of the most caring people you could ever hope to meet. She isn’t just in the profession of making people beautiful on the outside, she likes to remind them about what makes them great on the inside as well.
Rachel and I met when our families were attending the same church in our hometown. She was a little older than me and I always admired her fun personality and sense of style. We both became pregnant with our first children around the same time and still love to laugh about how we both managed to have red headed girls! Rachel is fun, caring, driven, and passionate about both her business and motherhood. Whenever I need a beauty pick-me-up I know I can count on Rachel to help me feel gorgeous inside and out in just a day’s time.
Talking with her about her business over the phone really opened my eyes to what it means to be a boss in her industry. We talk about the importance of teamwork, a great work environment, and the balance of being a boss and a mom. When you hear Rachel speak you can hear the enthusiasm for what she does in her tone and can’t help but feel some of that rub off on you!
Hey Rachel! Thanks for letting me give you a ring so we can talk beauty, boss life, and motherhood. While I can’t wait to talk business, I also can’t wait to hear about motherhood. How many kids do you have and how old are they?
I have a little girl that is 7 and starting second grade (A collective yay goes up from me because I’m in the same boat) and then I have a little boy who is five and getting ready to start kindergarten!
Rachel, I’m curious to know – were you already a mom when Halo Hair Studio started or did you open your doors afterwards?
That’s actually an interesting story! I bought the building that became the studio when I was 7 months pregnant with my daughter. I was hoping to officially open up for business right after I took some time for maternity leave. However, I quickly learned that things don’t always go as planned! We had some construction projects to do to update the building. A lot of the buildings in Burlington (Iowa) are older and this one needed some updates before we could use it.
As it worked out my daughter was 4 months old when we finally opened our doors.
At this point I had to share something that I have found surprising during these interviews and that is HOW MANY moms are starting their businesses at the exact same moment they are starting their motherhood journey. It really speaks to the ways motherhood can change and motivate us to reach new heights. Rachel had a few comments on that thought as well.
For me becoming a mom was definitely motivating to get going. In my mind, I kept thinking if I don’t start this business now I’m going to be so focused on my kids that I might never jump in and start. It was always a goal and it became clear the time to work on it was – NOW.
When you first became a hairdresser you didn’t have your own studio. Was the goal to have your own always there? Did something spark that desire?
It was always a goal of mine to have my own salon and to see that become real has been amazing. I have been in this industry for 15 years or so and I did hair for 8 years before starting my own business. We have been open 7 years now and I’m so happy with that.
I love the independence of having the studio and having stylists work for me and build a team together in the studio.
What all does Halo Hair Studio offer for services?
We offer a big variety of services! Our main services are hair based of course – cuts and colors for men, women, and children – perms – styling for formals and weddings. We also do facial waxing and professional makeup.
Just for fun, I’m curious – what is your favorite service to do?
I love the styling aspect. I love all those finishing touches you do after a cut or a color that really make a look stand out. I like to make sure that people really get to see their hair at its best when they visit!
How many stylists are on your team?
I have three stylists that work for me so total we are a team of four. I love being a smaller salon, not too big, I wanted to create a positive team environment and keeping my staff a small but stable number helps with that. The more personalities you have filling a salon the more potential for drama and workplace tension. I love this team, we have a great time together and I can’t imagine having things any other way.
As Rachel was answering the last question I could tell she was being sincere in her comments. She wasn’t just complimenting her team to make her studio look good. She is proud of her employees and much of her joy in the business has come from being able to create a team that she loves being part of.
So Rachel, can you tell me what the most rewarding part of this business is? How about when it comes to being a boss?
I get to make people feel more beautiful and confident in their own skin. I can see people have a total change of attitude and outlook just by getting a cut or a color because when you look good, you feel good too. That makes this job one of the most rewarding jobs out there in my mind.
When it comes to being a boss I just really take pride in providing a great atmosphere for my stylists to work in. My customers even tell me that they love the atmosphere my team has created – the way we get along and work together. Having a great team that works for me, makes being a boss rewarding.
I really work with awesome girls – I really do love them and knowing I helped build that team is probably my favorite accomplishment outside of just doing the work to get the doors open and the salon running.
I don’t think our triumphs would be so sweet if we didn’t face difficulties. What difficulties have you faced being a business owner?
I’ve been lucky to not have many things I would call failures. I have a great team now..but at first building that team and environment was tough. I take it personally when conflicts arise at work or disrupt our environment. When that happens things can be hard.
Also our building is older, like many of them in our town. Sometimes that part is stressful for me because there is always maintenance. There is always something that needs work in an older building. When I feel overwhelmed I try to find a positive to balance things out. Yes, I’m worried about the building BUT how much of a blessing is it — to even own a building for my own salon? Stepping back and giving things some perspective has been a key to finding my happiness in the harder times.
Let’s not forget..you are a mom too! How do you balance the time it takes to run a business that has so many customers and employees with the time it takes to be a mom?
Well, honestly…that’s a point of struggle for me. Time management. I hate telling my customers no or “not right now” when they want or need something. Right now it is back to school season and weddings are still happening which means there are a lot of people wanting their hair done. I want to help them all but sometimes I have to remember that this business is only part of my life…I have a family that needs me.
My husband is my biggest helper in this area. He isn’t afraid to point it out when I’ve been working a lot of longer nights. He picks up the slack but isn’t afraid to remind me that I need to be home and present there too.
Before the kids I would easily work 12 or 13 hour days — that doesn’t work well anymore!
Oh yeah! Having kids can definitely change the work hours game plan. Now that you’ve been doing this a few years what has helped you carve out family time? Is it a certain day of the week? A special activity?
Mondays are my day off, so I try and get stuff done on Mondays. We also make it a priority to eat dinner around the table as a family AT LEAST three nights a week. I know that isn’t a lot..but it is what works for us. I am okay with saying I’m a work in progress!
What do you hope your kids see in you when they watch you running a business?
I want them to see that their mom is willing to work hard for the family. I want them to see my passion for this business. Someday I really want them to choose a job they are passionate about and know that it’s okay to let the things you find interesting and important lead you to a job.
If there was a mom here who was wanting to start a business on their own – what would you recommend to them?
I think that they need to keep time management in mind. It has been a struggle for me and a business takes a ton of time. It’s not just an open to close job..you always have background work to do.
I would tell them to make sure they have a plan for how much time they are going to put in – not just at work, but at home too and then stick to it. If you love what you are doing you can make it work and one of the things you should always love and find time for is your family.