Opening A Salon And Building A Culture During A Pandemic — STX Software

Opening a Salon and Building a Culture During a Pandemic

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When hairstylists Mark DeBolt and Ryan Trygstad first set out to open their eponymous salon in the Flatiron District of Manhattan this spring, navigating a global pandemic certainly wasn’t on their to-do list.

“The biggest hurdle was the unknown,” DeBolt said. “We didn’t know what capacity we could operate at or when we could open our doors.”

While Mark Ryan Salon’s original opening date in April came and went, the duo quickly worked to incorporate the evolving safety guidelines presented to businesses across the country into the blueprint of their new space.

“We spent a lot of time listening to panels and podcasts put on by industry experts as well as watching the opening procedures/protocols from other salons across the US,” DeBolt said. “We began by imagining one client’s experience in the salon from start to finish and made plans so that they would feel comfortable at every step.”

This plan began with sourcing hard-to-find personal protection equipment (PPE) in order to keep their team members and guests safe throughout service, installing a wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispenser for frequent disinfecting, and creating a documented system for sanitizing shared spaces between every client.

One benefit to being under construction during Phase 1 of the pandemic was the pair’s ability to adapt Mark Ryan Salon’s layout to accommodate the new safety recommendations. In addition to creating a space that allowed for the suggested six-feet of social distancing between guests, DeBolt and Trygstad were able to ask their general contractor to hang plexiglass between shampoo bowls and at their front desk for added protection, as well as a large, mobile plexiglass stand that can be moved around the salon as needed.

During quarantine, DeBolt and Trygstad relied heavily on virtual communication with team members in order to paint an atmosphere of safety and build a bond of trust amongst new hires. Joining the Mark Ryan team was a leap of faith for many of the stylists who had left other places of employment in favor of the then-unfinished salon. And despite the setback, the shutdown had an unexpectedly positive impact on strengthening their team and fueling excitement for the salon’s future, according to DeBolt.

“During the shutdown we stayed connected with our team. We had one-on-one conversations to talk about the salon and to hear about how they were doing. We hosted Zoom classes about hair color, classes about our salon recycling initiatives and product knowledge trainings. We had a seminar on sanitation and what policies and procedures we were enacting to make the salon and safe and healthy environment. We wanted to stay connected and we believe that the time we spent together before we opened helped us grow together in an exciting and special way to create something new.”

With team members inspired and motivated for the next chapter, it was time for the couple to turn their attention to their clients. DeBolt and Trygstad, who have previously worked with the likes of Naomi Watts, Julianne Moore, Emma Roberts and other celebrity clientele, wanted to create an environment that fostered a strong sense of authenticity that catered to both beauty-conscious and beauty-devoted guests.  

“We believe that clients are more than their hair,” DeBolt said of the salon’s mission. “By striving to form lasting relationships, our team of professionals uses a nuanced understanding of their clients to bring style to life in the most authentic, creative way possible. We believe there’s no one definition of beauty. Instead, we believe the best tool for bringing out your authentic self is showing you ours.”

To ensure the safety of everyone in the salon, DeBolt and Trygstad created new onsite policies that extended to everyone who entered the space, like taking temperatures, enforcing masks, and sealed bags for personal belongings. 

Technology played a key role in the salon’s framework as well, as DeBolt and Trygstad chose STX Cloud salon software to manage the daily operations of Mark Ryan Salon. When the team received the green light to proceed with the salon’s grand opening in June, the system became a constant companion to DeBolt as he handled the sudden influx of appointment requests from guests who were desperate to get back in the chair.

“We love everything about STX and STX Cloud is brilliant. Our team members started to tell their clients about coming to the salon three weeks before we opened. I received a flood in inquiries that I could not have imagined! I was able to book appointments from anywhere I had internet connection.”

The team also faced the obstacle of adhering to indoor capacity guidelines, ultimately choosing to divide into different groups working alternating days in the salon. STX Cloud’s ability to accommodate different service groups, service timing and scalable pricing for every stylist allowed Mark Ryan Salon’s diverse group of stylists and colorists to easily meet the demands of their clientele and organize their appointment book in the most time-effective way given the limited availability.

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