‘Going freelance’ might sound exciting, but running your own small business comes with a lot of learning curves.
Nancy Stripe has been steadily growing in ambition and influence, and credits knowing her rights as how she keeps on track.
Freelancing may feel like you hold all the power – but, as Nancy Stripe discovered, it also means that all of the weight of a team falls on your shoulders. “As a freelancer you have to graft ten times harder to get recognition in the industry,” she says. “Your talent does not equate to the opportunities that come your way like it would do if you worked for a big, established company… but the benefits, once you get there, are all yours!” Nancy quickly discovered that you have to be totally dedicated, and – most importantly – consistent. “Never give up the hustle and always have personal targets for you to work towards,” she advises.
Despite the challenges she’s faced, her appetite for her work has only grown. “I truly believe that this is the age for the freelancer. You really can be any stylist you want to be; it doesn’t matter if you work in a garden studio, or rent a chair in a salon,” she insists.
Online education means that your possibilities are limitless, and you can seek out the opportunities you believe can help you grow. “Getting yourself on to creative teams like L’Oréal Professionnel Paris’ ID Artist or the F.A.M.E team will propel you to another level,” Nancy adds. “More importantly, it will get you a like-minded network that will stay with you for the rest of your career.”
As the things slowly return to normal, and more and more hairdressers make the jump, she has some warning signs to watch out for. “Companies which take advantage of you being self-employed, but don’t want you to reap the benefits either! It can’t be a one-way system… I’ve said it before but KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!” Nancy has seen many of her peers feeling scared and unable, or not confident enough, to speak up but she’s confident that the pendulum is starting to swing the other way: “The ability to create a strong social media presence has built up stylists’ confidence, to know they can move on and take the clientele they have worked so hard to build with them. ”
Nancy’s Masterclass for SELF/STYLED Sunday in March as a L’Oreal Professionnel Paris guest artist.
When asked what has surprised her about her experience thus far, her answer was instant: “Being asked to represent L’Oréal Professional Paris as a guest artist this year. I honestly thought that it was reserved for the big wigs of the industry, or for people who worked for big brands,” she admits. “I never thought little old me would ever be asked to do something like that!” Her own education initiative, Lived-in Sessions, came from a love of sharing her knowledge with other like-minded colourists, and it clearly caught more than just other colourists’ attention. “My courses have been such a fantastic success though, and it just shows you that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.”
Nancy was asked to collaborate with Siobhan Jones on the recent Blueprint Balayage course for L’Oréal Access, showcasing how colourists can turn balayage into a regular money-spinner rather than only seeing clients once a year for a hours on end. “That was a real ‘pinch me’ moment. She has been one of my favourite educators over the years and it really made me feel so honoured to be working alongside her. Working with a major brand like L’Oréal Professionnel Paris just polishes you up and pushes you to be better. I was on the first ever Colour ID Artist team and the Innovation Team, and I think every time I do something like this I get pushed to step outside the box and level up.”
Nancy’s Top Tips
Get good on the ‘gram! I promise you, shaping up your online presence will make all the difference in attracting new clientele. Make sure you use correct geotagging and hashtag your location followed by the thing you specialise in, i.e. #manchesterbalayage. Utilise great social media courses like The Digital Academy Content Marketing on L’Oréal Access or Social Climbing on BTC University.
Consistency. Keep taking those pictures and videos of the hair you do and salon life. It engages clients before they even sit in your chair and builds you up an online community which is vital for personal marketing. I rarely have a spare appointment; even when I get cancellations, I post it on my Instagram Stories and it fills within minutes. Without this I don’t know how I would function as a freelancer.
Find the right salon space for you. Some salons still haven’t got to grips with the rights of self-employed people and you need to know before you start where you stand. You should not be requesting holidays, be told when to start and finish and you should be taking your own bills through BACS or PDQ machines. The company should then invoice you, not the other way around. You are your own business renting a space through someone else’s salon. If they don’t like this way of working then it might not be the right space for you. Know your rights!