For salon owner Stacey Hamblett, there’s more to beauty than meets the eye. “One’s beauty goes far beyond a reflection in the mirror. It’s a connection with the way one feels,” says Hamblett. It’s this philosophy that motivates her mission of “changing the way you see beauty” at Urban Salon Team. Her entire team operates to “eliminate the guesswork and exceed their expectations” for guests. It’s a unique model for a salon, and the atmosphere at Urban Salon Team is certainly much different than that of an everyday beauty salon.
Located now at 86 Main Street in Burlington (one block from their original location), The Urban Salon Team is a space where clients can link their inner and outer beauty. “We really want to focus on people feeling good and not just looking good. I’ve learned over the 23 years in the beauty industry that there is not enough hair color or stylish cuts to make someone feel beautiful,” says Hamblett. For her, running her company differently than a traditional salon model is how she intends to exceed the expectations of the salon guests.
Feeling beautiful is providing customers with a happy space, from the spirit of the staff to the wall coloring. Even the lighting plays a key part. “The lights are full-spectrum: parallel to the natural daylight,” said Hamblett. “This makes a valuable difference in the overall energy in the salon, especially during the darker months for guests and team. The type of lighting plays a key factor with one’s reflection in the mirror toward hair and skin color”.
One of The Urban Salon’s core values is “to inspire”, aiding with decisions that customers will feel beautiful with, decisions such with regards to maintenance and styling in between salon visits. “Each person is unique, with unique needs,” added Hamblett.
I ended up going with Opportunities. Laz came in to personally meet me; he wanted to understand and believe in my vision
Part of the commitment to customer service is the unique “team” based business model that Stacey adopted for her company more than five years ago. She realized that the traditional salon environments were not aligned with her values–it had always been more about the stylists than the client. Hamblett wanted to do things differently. She knew what it felt like to work under competitive environments where stylists have an “I, me, my” way of thinking instead of an “us, our” mentality. It was important to build an environment where clients wouldn’t feel pressured to stay with a specific stylist in fear of hurting their feelings.
This shift translated into an above industry average customer loyalty rate. The salon currently boasts a loyalty rate of 89 percent, well above the national average of 70 to 75 percent. In 2015, The Urban Salon Team won a national award for client loyalty from Strategies Salon Business Management Training and was nominated again in 2016.
“The reason that so many clients come back to the salon,” says Stacey, “is that they know that they can see anyone freely knowing that they will receive consistent service and expertise. Team members do not receive commission on sales and services like a traditional salon model, and the team performs according to the salon’s core values because they are invested in the vision and the opportunities that a successful business will provide for them.” Stacey’s team earns bonuses, retirement contributions, health care contributions, sick and vacation time, paid holidays and continuing education–a rarity in the salon business.
In part, that’s because Hamblett is making Urban Salon Team into a go-to location for local wellness and networking events. She shares that she will have speakers with unique life experiences to share their wisdom to benefit others. “I guess I feel that the people who have landed in my chair or come across my life path have contributed to rounding me into the person that I am today. It is my purpose to share those benefits and wisdom with others.” said Hamblett. Her goal is to hold an array of intimate events that will inspire and empower individuals with information in health, wellness, and lifestyle in a safe and familiar environment. This will be a great platform for other businesses to promote their products and services for the good of the individuals in our community. Again, changing the way we see beauty.
The dedication to customer wellness doesn’t stop with tailored services and intimate classes either. The Urban Nourish Center within the salon provides another way for Stacey and her team to inspire the inner beauty of their clients. “We have organic fair trade Vermont coffee, seasonal infused waters, and signature coffees and teas along with healthy snacks for their enjoyment,” said Hamblett. “We make our own in-house granola nut mixture, dehydrated fruits and nut mixture, along with our specialty Urban teas (fresh, soft, and bliss) created by myself and Dobra Tea. We juice from their neighbor Vermont Juice Co. as well as other healthy beverages. Everything available is non GMO, gluten free with dairy free options.”
For Hamblett, opening a salon dedicated to keeping the planet beautiful is equally important. “We are the only Certified Green Circle Salon in Vermont, which means that we are 95% green,” she shares. “Hair foils, cans, excess hair color, paper products…even the hair that gets swept goes through a process to create oil spill mats and dog beds for displaced animals from natural disasters. All waste gets shipped out of Vermont so as not to touch our waterways and landfills. Even excess color gets made into asphalt to make for a more beautiful Earth and future.
After 10 years in banking and insurance, Hamblett followed her passion into the beauty industry. After seven years she launched The Urban Salon Team, knowing that she wanted to do things differently. She wanted a collaborative culture with a vision but was unsure of how. Over the last five years she has numerous accolades and accomplishments. She earned a lifestyle coaching and leadership certification from Bennett Stellar University in Sedona, AZ, and has also earned her health coaching certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Stacey and her leadership team share numerous certificates of achievements from Strategies Salon & Spa business management.
That’s not to say that opening the salon was a walk in the park. After financing fell through six weeks before opening with a traditional bank she’d been with for years, Hamblett was referred to look into a credit union instead and talked to two local institutions. “I ended up going with Opportunities. Laz came in to personally meet me; he wanted to understand and believe in my vision,” says Hamblett. “The other credit union wasn’t as quick to jump on board.” The personalized interest and support from Laz Manrique, Business Development Manager, made all the difference for Stacey.
About Opportunities, Hamblett says, “their value system just aligned with mine; customer contact and appreciation, then they brought my vision to life. When push came to shove, they just said let’s get this done.” The credit union’s strong commitment to supporting local businesses was apparent to Stacey, and she knew that she had found a financing partner she could trust. It’s a financing experience that Hamblett appreciates and one that she will encourage other local business owners to take advantage of too. Exceeding the customer’s experience is a connection in their valued partnership.
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