E36 Transcript: From Stylist to CEO: How to Turn Your Passion Into a Thriving Business with Laura Symons

[00:03:40] Brett Fellows: Welcome, Laura Elizabeth to the Unchained from the Chair podcast. I’m excited to have you here today.

[00:03:45] Laura Symons: Thank you so much for having me on. It’s an honor to be here with you.

[00:03:47] Brett Fellows: Oh, absolutely.

[00:03:49] Brett Fellows: And the reason I’m excited is, I think there’s a lot of coaches, leaders out there in the beauty space, and I love how some of the, just the words you use are some of the exact same things that we use here on this side. You talk a lot about getting through glass ceilings. I usually talk about the ceiling of complexity.

[00:04:09] Brett Fellows: You talk a lot about the mindset of abundance, which I think is huge. And then ultimately how you get your clients to just gain confidence. I think confidence at the end of the day, whether it’s physical or mental, or about money, is the most important thing. And I think you do that in a really great, organized, neat way.

[00:04:27] Brett Fellows: And so that’s what led me to reach out to you and to ask you to be on our podcast and get to know you even better.

[00:04:35] Laura Symons: Thank you. I, that’s very flattering words to hear. I’ll receive that. I’ve been getting better about receiving. Those are all things that have probably taken me time and lessons to learn in my own life in business, and knowing my own shortcomings of how I got to those places.

[00:04:51] Laura Symons: I can only give back, like it would be selfish just to keep those secrets hidden. Cause I know a lot of other people struggle with those as well.

[00:04:56] Brett Fellows: Yeah. So you have a lot on your plate. You have many different offers, you do many different things. You have your own salon still. So I’d love to just go back a little bit and hear about how you got to where you are today.

[00:05:10] Brett Fellows: How, when did you start, what are some of your trials and tribulations and how did you get to 2023?

[00:05:18] Laura Symons: Oh my gosh, I don’t even know. How did we get from 2020 to 2023? I feel like I’m still trying to remember what happened those three years in between. Going back to 20 years ago, I started doing hair as a licensed hairstylist.

[00:05:32] Laura Symons: It’s interesting, I just was chatting with another business earlier today and they asked a similar question, and I started off in like this tiny little beauty school in Indianapolis. It actually was called Noblesville and it was such a small town. People called it Nobletucky. It was definitely like one of those places that you were just, it was a great place to grow up, but all you wanted to do was move away.

[00:05:54] Laura Symons: I went to beauty school there, did that through high school and by 19 years old I was working in my first salon. My first salon was a wonderful, yet most, I think I picked the hardest place that I could have worked in Minneapolis. We’re like bootcamp for hairstylists, and I learned a lot of discipline.

[00:06:13] Laura Symons: I learned a lot about proper work ethic, and they really did teach me the foundations to how I operate my business today. So that was my first business venture, and I stayed there for 11 years. Actually. I’m an achiever naturally. So for me to get from an assistant to a level one, be promoted to a level two, was given my first assistant when I was one year into the program.

[00:06:38] Laura Symons: And then continued to grow within their salon as an educator in the salon, an outside educator, and became one of their top earners. By the time I left 11 years later, I would say the price point was a very Midwestern price point. Wasn’t too expensive, but it was definitely a higher price for that area.

[00:06:55] Laura Symons: I was generating at that point, a little over $220K a year, which was awesome. But it was exhausting at the same time. So I knew when I was leaving that salon and moved to Texas, which is where I reside now, I’m like, okay, I needed to redo my business because that was too much. It was 40 hours and four days, and it was exhausting.

[00:07:14] Laura Symons: So. When I moved, I made a decision to still be high performing, but on my own terms, and found a salon down here in Dallas that I worked at for about seven years and really homed in on focusing on what I really love to do, which is hair extensions, educating with a hair extension company.

[00:07:32] Laura Symons: Honestly, Dallas people love money. They love to spend money on their hair and on their appearances and going shopping and all the things. Good problem. So it was a great place to rebuild my business. Yeah, so Dallas is where I reside now. Three to four years ago I opened up, I stepped away from that salon and opened up my own salon studio. And with that I hired my first solo assistant and then a second teammate and grew what I now have as a micro salon.

[00:07:55] Laura Symons: So it’s just, it’s been a long journey in the industry. I’ve always really loved. I love, as I mentioned, achieving. I really love being given like tasks to hit the next level, and I love to challenge myself. I’ve done all things within our industry from working for someone else, becoming an educator. I’ve hired and trained over 150 assistants within 20 years of work.

[00:08:17] Laura Symons: I’ve done stage presentations for big hair companies. I educate independently. Now I own my own salon. It’s every hat I could try on. I tried it on because I could, and it was fun.

[00:08:28] Brett Fellows: Great. So go back a bit. What led you to decide to leave Indianapolis to go to Texas? Were you burnt out, you just, or was it another reason for you to move away?

[00:08:40] Laura Symons: So at the time I had a former, it’s an ex-husband of mine now. So we were engaged. It was a guy, a man brought me to Texas. And we both still reside here, but our marriage did not work out. Within two years we separated and went through a divorce. And Texas is a great place, honestly, as I mentioned to work, like people love to spend money on those things, like hair for instance.

[00:09:01] Laura Symons: So it was very easy to stay here. And at that time, I think I only had been living here for two and a half years in. It just made sense to at least stay put for the time being.

[00:09:11] Why the Covid-19 pandemic was a wake-up call for Laura Symons, which ultimately led her to start her own hair salon business.

[00:09:11] Brett Fellows: And so then that next salon, you said you stayed there for about seven years? And then was it kind of Covid-ish when you left there?

[00:09:18] Laura Symons: Yes. 2020. Here’s the truth. So 2020 I think was a very interesting year for most people. I feel like a lot of what I call the veil was lifted on many people’s eyes with either their relationships, their business, their own lives, and it was lifted for me because there was time away from the business.

[00:09:38] Laura Symons: Like I knew there was things that I was not settled with that I was frustrated, or I was feeling unseen or whatever the feeling was. I just was, I wasn’t ready to make the leap. And when I was forced to stay at home for those eight weeks and really sit back and look in what was bringing me joy, what was not bringing me joy, where was my alignment going to be.

[00:09:56] Laura Symons: I literally, Mark and I, my current husband, we got married February, 2020. Three weeks later, everything shut down. Shut down. And I’m sitting here in the same office for as I am right now, talking to you, looking at him, being like, what are we going to do? Everything was just taken away. I got put on unemployment, thank goodness I was too, so I could get unemployment really easily.

[00:10:16] Laura Symons: But this unemployment wasn’t what my regular paycheck was. And what I realized is that, this is something I don’t share too often. So this particular salon was unable to pay us our last week of pay. They told us to file unemployment. Instead of getting our paycheck, and they never really gave us a reason why, but I put my investigator hat on as best I could and realized that there was poor management of their income and that’s why they couldn’t pay us for work that we had previously done.

[00:10:44] Laura Symons: But they were going to make it up on a later date. And that just didn’t sit well with me. That really rubbed me the wrong way. And I’ve never publicly talked about this, and I’m not going to name names. Obviously, things happened and people have made decisions. The PPP plan helped a lot of salons.

[00:10:57] Laura Symons: But it didn’t help me in that moment and it made me realize how. How much my business wasn’t my own business, and as much as I did for myself and that salon, and as much ownership as I took for what my business was, I realized that moment, like I have to take control back. So that’s when I stepped away to open up my own space is because if someone else can’t manage my money properly, I’m going have to do it for myself.

[00:11:21] Brett Fellows: Yeah. And then going off on your own and literally like finding the space, outfitting it or setting it up the way you wanted, how long did that take?

[00:11:29] Laura Symons: I gave myself eight weeks. It was quick. So, during the decision-making time, when I was at home, I started to do in, I investigated, I looked up how much of it cost.

[00:11:43] Laura Symons: So our outfitting of our salon suite that I chose to go into here in Dallas, I outfitted the entire thing myself from the shelving units to the stations. The only thing they provided were chairs and the shampoo bowl in the sink. So it was a very basic, Spelled out for them. So very smart business move on their behalf for us coming in, the cool part was we got to outfit it to our liking, so it truly became my own salon.

[00:12:04] Laura Symons: It wasn’t just moving into an outfitted place with cabinetry. So I got to really look and what did I want my vibe to be? What did I want my salon to feel like? How did I want it to represent what Laura wanted within her business? So I went a very inexpensive route. Ikea was my savior for a lot of furniture.

[00:12:21] Laura Symons: But little by little, I kept buying pieces here and there and putting it together until it was complete. And then eight weeks later I moved in.

[00:12:28] Brett Fellows: Wow. And so what does it look like today? Now you have a few stylists there working for you on a kind of commission structure. Is that right?

[00:12:37] Laura Symons: Correct.

[00:12:38] Laura Symons: Yes. So we have two suites. We have five stations. We have a team of three right now. So we grew, we reduced. And now we’re growing again. We’re actually, we just hired another stylist to come in, so we’re on the growing side, which is just, business is cyclical. It happens that way. And yeah, I love it.

[00:12:54] Laura Symons: Like the beauty of it is that it almost reminds me of the condominium, which is. So it’s like a lock and key. I can lock it up and we can go off and do our thing. But at the same time, we do get the luxury of having multiple chairs, multiple space. Having a feel of a larger space.

[00:13:08] Brett Fellows: So tell me about being an owner of that now.

[00:13:10] Brett Fellows: So I guess, how many hours a week are you literally working behind the chair?

[00:13:17] Laura Symons: I left a nine to five to work a 24/7. Now, behind the chair. So behind the chair, I’m there three days a week right now. Within the salon ownership, I don’t even know. Like I, I do, there are days I take off. I don’t work 24/7.

[00:13:32] Laura Symons: But you never turn off your brain with your business. I’m always thinking about things with the business that I can be doing better. Differently. New things I can add to it. But what I physically do in the salon is three days a week. I train my staff. Not every fourth day, but there are some days during the months that I’ll pop in, we’ll do a training together.

[00:13:49] Laura Symons: And then obviously there’s admin days as well.

[00:13:53] The systems Laura Symons has implemented in her business to streamline operations.

[00:13:53] Brett Fellows: And so three days a week, maybe four. And then tell me like behind the scenes, inventory, payroll, all the reports that need to be done. Scheduling, is it plug and play by this point or the way you have it set up, it runs fairly on its own or, or are you doing all of that legwork?

[00:14:11] Laura Symons: I just came back from this really phenomenal training. It was for salon owners, and I learned a lot of systems that I am implementing now. So the training really opened my eyes to the fact that there was a lot of time spent on things that I didn’t need to spend time on. So understanding what that looked like, how I can delegate things, how we could systemize things, was really helpful.

[00:14:32] Laura Symons: So, we have systems now for when clients call in for like new appointments or pre-booking things out, which we have more automate, have it automated better. When it comes down to certain things like inventory, we have our system, our online system set up to do our inventory for us as like an old school heart, like I’m the type of person that loves a pen and paper.

[00:14:52] Laura Symons: I will go in and just double check things just because I want to see what’s actually happening. Sometimes numbers don’t update properly, but with all that being said, I really try and minimize that to doing it two times a month. So I’m not so focused and dialed in on just like staring at numbers on a weekly basis.

[00:15:09] Laura Symons: Because I think just like anything, people can spend a lot of wasted time like cleaning out their emails for instance, when really if you just keep up on it with a systemized method, you quickly can consolidate your time management better.

[00:15:20] Brett Fellows: Good for you. What’s for you? Everybody’s different. What’s been more difficult?

[00:15:24] Brett Fellows: Has it been understanding the financial aspect and cashflow, or has it been managing people?

[00:15:30] Laura Symons: Managing people. Numbers don’t lie. They don’t talk back to you. They just stare at you and you’re just like, crap. Or you’re like, great, this is an awesome month. People, that’s a different story. It’s been a very, I’ve always been really good with people, right?

[00:15:44] Laura Symons: As a hairstylist, I can talk to people all day. As an educator, I can educate people all day. Like I love those things as someone managing other people’s expectations. That has been my greatest learning curve to date. Is learning how to be a leader and not just a manager. Showing up in the capacity that is allowing me to lead.

[00:16:05] Laura Symons: And lead it with confidence behind the chair with my team where they know that like whatever we’re going to do is going to be in their best interest, but also honoring what it is that they want. Because I have to buy into their dreams as much as they’re buying into my dreams as well too. And it just, it takes a lot more time than I realized it was going to take.

[00:16:22] Laura Symons: I don’t think I had an expectation, but it’s definitely been more than I expected and I’m learning how to modify that, how to show up more powerfully and not micromanage. Because the micromanaging was real in the beginning.

[00:16:34] Brett Fellows: Yeah, absolutely. So I’m going to try to silo your life here. So there’s three, four days at least taken from the salon and now we’ve got this whole educator side of your life, which you know is what I was starting with to talk about.

[00:16:48] Laura Symons describes her coaching programs: Glass Ceiling Academy and Micro Salon Experience.  

[00:16:48] Brett Fellows: So let’s talk Glass Ceiling Academy. So that’s one of your ventures. Tell me about that.

[00:16:53] Laura Symons: Glass Ceiling Academy is my like, oh, I love it. So the Glass Ceiling Academy was, it was a, what do they call it? Like a brainchild. It was one of those things that it came out of a passion for teaching and I had a couple other, like one-off academies that I did prior to that and the glass ceiling.

[00:17:12] Laura Symons: Just, it just came out from all the education I had done prior. So it’s definitely designed around, I haven’t taught this in a minute. It’s for the established hairstylist who feels stuck within their industry, who feels stuck within their work and is really just feeling like on the brink of burnout. So we dive into learning more about who they are, what their business truly means to them.

[00:17:32] Laura Symons: It’s revamping. Probably service offerings and pricing menus and giving them like a really good idea and giving them more control back within their business. Because so often we can let our business control us if we just stick to the same things that we’ve learned from the beginning or earlier on, and those systems begin to fail, but we don’t choose to change them. Then our business begins to run us, and we don’t have enough time.

[00:17:53] Laura Symons: We feel like we don’t make enough money, we lose our passion. So it’s really reigniting the passion into the established stylist to have that better handle on their life. So it’s part business coaching, part life coaching, and really about evolving who they are. Within that, my most current program that I’m running right now is the Micro Salon Experience.

[00:18:13] Laura Symons: Very different from Glass Ceiling. Glass ceiling, like I mentioned is life and business coaching. Micro Salon is, we are dialing in and we are going into like coach mode, like we are telling you how to run your business, how to scale it, how to hire an assistant. Like it’s very much consulting, very different energy for me because the last two years have all been around the Glass Ceiling Academy.

[00:18:33] Laura Symons: Which is. As a, I think as a female, like a very feminine way of working with other females. This is, here’s my roadmap and you can take it or you can leave it. But both have really powerful outcomes.

[00:18:43] Brett Fellows: Wow. And are they online programs that we, you take ad hoc or at your own pace, or is it a group program?

[00:18:51] Brett Fellows: How does it literally work?

[00:18:54] Laura Symons: Both programs have been live coaching. So the live training, live coaching intention, especially with the microphone experience is to get it to a place after a couple seasons, to having it automated. I do. I’m like, I love connection. I’m a human that loves to connect with other humans.

[00:19:10] Laura Symons: So the live coaching is fun because it gives me an opportunity to dive in. Conduct the class, teach the class, allow them to work through the program, and then we talk through it. Because there’s always questions, there’s always things that need to be worked upon for the student that’s coming through the program.

[00:19:24] Laura Symons: So I prefer that, but they do get access to the Academy for life. There’s a, there’s so much information that’s poured into each module that there’s, I don’t say there’s no way, but there’s a, it’s a very slim chance you’re absorbing everything that you’re being shown. So to revisit that, go back through modules or even if you take a break during the academy and then go back to catch back up, you’ll have access to that for life until you choose not to.

[00:19:48] Brett Fellows: Can you, are those one thing that you can join, is it a subscription fee? I guess how much does it cost and how does one get into that?

[00:19:56] Laura Symons: That’s a great question. So the Glass Ceiling Academy, every time I relaunch it, it changes slightly. The first time was three months, then it was four months, and I’m actually going to be launching it as an annual program this next coming year.

[00:20:07] Laura Symons: So I’m revamping it. I don’t have a price tag for that just yet. But it will be broken up into monthly payments, so everything’s very digestible, especially for a stylist who’s growing their business. The Micro Salon Experience will be relaunching in 2023 in the fall.

[00:20:24] Laura Symons: That program relaunching, I don’t have a price tag just yet, but I do know this last launch. I would say the next one will probably be relaunching around $1,500 on the low end. Then it can go up to as much as $1,800, just because we have early bird pricing.

[00:20:37] Brett Fellows: And I think I saw on the website that’s full at the moment. Or do you still have, is there a waiting list or are you putting everybody on a waiting list that day?

[00:20:45] Laura Symons: Yes. We have a wait list right now for our fall lunch.

[00:20:48] Brett Fellows: Then, all right, so I got the Academy and Micro Salon Experience. Then there’s also one-on-one coaching. Tell me how that came about. Is that a big part of what you’re doing as well? Do you enjoy that, and do you see that growing more for you in the future?

[00:21:04] Laura Symons: One-on-one coaching I love. I do love that. To be honest, I feel that one-on-one coaching is a great opportunity for either new coaches to build up their coaching, repertoire, their resume, getting them in front of people to help work through the problems that may be in our industry. And that is that I started my career with one-on-one coaching.

[00:21:23] Laura Symons: I do offer it, but the price point of it at this point for the time commitment is definitely, it’s a larger investment for most. So that’s going to be more for a higher, let’s just put it, it’s for someone who’s really wanting to have an intimate experience. Who’s dedicating anywhere from three to six months and is wanting to essentially what I call collapse time.

[00:21:41] Laura Symons: So instead of having a full year program, we’re going to take a problem and get a solution for you within three to six months. So, one-on-one coaching is something I do offer. I don’t have as much capacity at the moment for that. It’s something that if someone was willing to want to have the mentorship and is willing to go all in and have a coach walk them through the, whatever those things are.

[00:22:03] Laura Symons: That’s where that would fit. So I can say that it’s been a beautiful part of the evolution of coaching and educating, and it’s something that I can see revisiting when I have more capacity in the future. Because right now the capacity of time is, I’m trying to find more of it.

[00:22:19] Brett Fellows: Yeah. That’s great.

[00:22:21] Why Laura created Beauty Empire Chats, and how it differs from her online courses.

[00:22:21] Brett Fellows: And then the last thing I wanted to talk about was you also have this Beauty Empire Chats, which has more of a community aspect, that you’ve created. What spurred that on? And how is that different than the online courses?

[00:22:37] Laura Symons: Beauty Empire Chats was a spinoff of Clubhouse when Clubhouse like first blew up, and I went into it and I was like, I like this, but I don’t like this.

[00:22:46] Laura Symons: I don’t know why. There was something about it that I just couldn’t, it just felt, I remember stylists would have their headphones in while they were doing hair, listening to Clubhouse, and I was like, wow, this is, it’s like a live podcast, but in person you could sometimes collaborate. But then you were listening.

[00:23:01] Laura Symons: It was a little bit strange, but I also liked it, but at the same time I was like, this is just one more platform that I’ll have time for. So I thought it’d be cool to bring in that idea of collaboration and community into Instagram. But because I didn’t have a podcast, so for a full year, I had a co-host, her name’s Shelby.

[00:23:18] Laura Symons: Shelby and I would do these chats, we’d bring in other educators and we would do like a round robin style where you can have up to four people in your Instagram live chats. So it was really fun because it gave us an opportunity to talk to other people in Instagram. It kept people in the platform.

[00:23:33] Laura Symons: And allowed people who were listening to comment and be a part of it. So that’s where that came from. And then the Instagram group that I have now is called Beauty Empire as well. That’s a great place for people who like to be on that platform to come and check out the content I have to share from Instagram.

[00:23:48] Laura Symons: And then I do live trainings in there. Not as often right now, but I had done live trainings in there. So I think it’s just learning and utilizing platforms and trying to figure out. What platforms work? Where do you want to be? Where’s your audience? First and foremost.

[00:23:59] Brett Fellows: Yes. And what, that’s really interesting.

[00:24:02] Brett Fellows: What have you found? Where is your audience if you were to pinpoint one place as it stands today? It could change, I know, in six months.

[00:24:11] Laura Symons: Instagram for certain, like hairstylists live on Instagram. I haven’t explored TikTok a whole lot. I know that there’s a lot of younger stylists that do like TikTok.

[00:24:20] Laura Symons: I just don’t have the space to make videos as often, but I love watching them. And I would say for as a hairstylist looking for clientele, Facebook is by far where most of my own clients typically will live and find as well too.

[00:24:33] How Laura Symons manages her time as a business owner and new mom.

[00:24:33] Brett Fellows: Wow. Yeah. All right, so we have all of that and we’re a new mom, and we’ve got all these other things going on.

[00:24:40] Brett Fellows: So how do you balance all of that? That must take a lot of me time to think through and plan your days and plan your weeks. Do you do it three months ahead? Do you break things into 90-day intervals? How do you, how do you plan all of that on a calendar?

[00:25:01] Laura Symons: Laura prior to baby was very organized. I had lived, I lived and died by my calendar.

[00:25:08] Laura Symons: I don’t have that life as much right now, honestly, because I just don’t have, I haven’t made the capacity to sit down and actually plan out like my entire year. So I will say that I’m definitely the type of person where I’m pretty planned out by the month. I know it’s coming. I know it’s going.

[00:25:23] Laura Symons: My appointments are when it comes to like smaller tasks from day to day, sometimes I gotta be like, oh, I forgot about that. I gotta pull that in the end of my day. So there’s this like side of me that’s slightly disorganized that I always make it work, and there’s this other part of me that’s like super organized and it has to be on the calendar.

[00:25:38] Laura Symons: I would like to be able to have the space to be more organized moving forward. It’s just really navigating with the baby’s a whole nother level of life I was not prepared to take on in regards to, your time is no longer your time. It’s just taken, honestly, I think, to organize all these things.

[00:25:55] Laura Symons: I do have strategies. There’s probably things that I still carry from earlier on prior to Maximus that I probably just innately do. So I make sure I look at my weekend in advance at the minimum to know that like where, what are my salon days? What are my admin days? What are my coaching days, and what are my call days?

[00:26:10] Laura Symons: When do I have time to content create? And I put all those on the calendar. We’re very blessed to be able to have support with our baby. And we have a nanny that comes and works with us four to five days a week. So that really helps. And then my husband and I. He like, he does very similar things in his industry.

[00:26:25] Laura Symons: He’s not in the hair world, but we both manage businesses and have to content create and do email writing and delegate things to our team. So we share a lot of responsibilities of who’s going to time block on like Sunday and you take the baby and then you go work and we switch roles. So yeah, it’s definitely like a team effort to make it all work.

[00:26:44] Brett Fellows: I bet. And the whole education piece in the Glass Ceiling Academy, did that all start after 2020 as well, or were you already doing that before you had left that last salon?

[00:26:55] Laura Symons: I was already educating, so I’m trying to remember when Glass Ceiling Academy came about. That was, Glass Ceiling probably came about in 2020, 2021.

[00:27:05] Laura Symons: But prior to that there were other programs I was running. As early as 2018, I believe is when I ran my first program. So 2018, 2019, I was getting married in 20, like 2020. So I knew that I took a break in 2019. Because of wedding planning and all that stuff.

[00:27:23] Brett Fellows: The independent educating has been going on for, what’s that, five years now? And this whole podcast, so I always talk about is being unchained from the chair and creating different revenue sources. I guess percentage wise, what percentage of your income now is from the chair versus all these outside activities that you’re doing? Is one predominantly much larger than the other?

[00:27:44] Laura Symons: Hair behind the chair has always been my main income. And it, I have to compare numbers now because I do track my numbers, but it’s very different because how I have everything structured in the business. A lot of what I produce in behind the chair, like I take a commission cut of that. And then the rest goes back into the business.

[00:28:03] Laura Symons: And then I can use that as needed. So I haven’t done a percentage breakdown. I would say that the chair probably still trumps coaching. That’s because I spend most of my time there. Even comparatively to what I do with content creating and course creation as well too.

[00:28:17] Brett Fellows: Makes sense. And then as you look forward, so like the next five years, do you want the coaching to increase and the hair either maintain or decrease?

[00:28:28] Brett Fellows: What do you see happening? Or, let me ask this. If it’s five years from today and you and I were looking back and talking about the last five years, what happened to Laura Symons to be happy with her success professionally?

[00:28:42] Laura Symons: I’m already happy. So what would make sense then, though? That’s a good question.

[00:28:47] Laura Symons: Ideally, with especially having a family like it, it really has me reevaluating where my time should be spent. And where I want my time to be spent. Let’s rephrase that. And now more than ever. I understand those times and moments that you have with your, especially your children, they’re so fleeting.

[00:29:06] Laura Symons: They, a memory is you have to be present for a memory to be made. So I really want to have this space and capacity to be present with Maximus and what I’m building now and all the energy that I’m putting into it. I don’t plan on doing that for 20 more years. It’s just, it’s not sustainable and it’s not something that, I know that I’m a busy human being, but it’s not something that I want to continuously repeat to repeat.

[00:29:26] Laura Symons: With that. Building my salon team, allowing that to grow into something really big. And really big, probably to me, may not be as big as other people, but having multiple stylists, being able to like niche into our industry within our extension work our, we do a lot of systems for women with thinning hair.

[00:29:43] Laura Symons: Having us really be dialed in on those types of things. Have the team trained, have a reputation here, established and still probably be in the salon maybe two days a week at my discretion, but maybe two days a week every other week. Who knows? But I don’t see myself not being behind the chair.

[00:29:58] Laura Symons: I just don’t see it as the way it is right now. Because these hands, like I know these hands can make good money. At the same time, I need to train other people’s hands and do the same thing too. That’s where I’m at. Like I’m focusing on laying that groundwork as a leader, as an educator, to empower those stylists to build a business that I built for myself and have that same success.

[00:30:16] Laura Symons: That would feel amazing. The coaching side of things. It’s funny because I like, I dance with that. I flirt with that quite a bit. I love coaching, I love educating, I love connecting. And I know if I gave myself the permission to go all in and like full-time on that would be wildly successful too. I just, I have such a balance between both things.

[00:30:35] Laura Symons: It’s how much time do I have to really dedicate to both. So beautiful thing about online is like you can take your business anywhere. And that would be amazing to not feel tied to a brick and mortar. So I would say if I were to say five years from now, it’d be established salon, established team, making great income, working as needed, scaling the coaching business, and then five years from there would be selling the salon business.

[00:30:57] Laura Symons: And then, I would say like having a really well-established education business online that could essentially create residual income and revenue.

[00:31:07] Laura Symons describes two monumental low points in her journey that helped shape who she is today.

[00:31:07] Brett Fellows: Yeah. Good for you. That’s fantastic. What was the low point on that whole, this whole journey for you?

[00:31:15] Laura Symons: Like from starting to where I am today? Oh man.

[00:31:19] Laura Symons: I’ve had, there’s two monumental low points that really. They really actually helped formed who I am today, and one of them was the failed marriage that I had that at the point I was 30 years old when I got married, 32 when we separated and divorced. And it wasn’t like, oh, I failed and I’m a terrible person.

[00:31:39] Laura Symons: It was this like, I didn’t think it was going to happen to me. No one expects that and out of anyone, I’m like, I’m never going to go through it. I’m going to fight tooth and nail for this. But when you’re in it and it’s not working, it just, it felt huge. So that was a really big part of my turnaround of learning who I am and what can I take responsibility for?

[00:31:58] Laura Symons: What do I not need to take responsibility for, and how can I show up better just in this world? So, it took a good five years, in my opinion, to really heal and transform through that. Which had me hiring my first life coach, which then led me to my first business coach, which then led me to coaching that turned my business around.

[00:32:17] Laura Symons: I turned who I am into a different person so I can look back and think past me for that. My second one would be when I was going through that process of learning who I am, my confidence level dropped. Like I was really great at pretending to be like, oh yeah, I’m great. Everything’s wonderful. And, but things really felt uncertain, and I didn’t, I was still relearning.

[00:32:38] Laura Symons: And at that time, I shared with my former boss my aspirations to becoming an educator, independent educator in the salon. Or in the industry, excuse me. Coaching and leading other people. And I’ve shared this before and she looked at me. And she said the I, I told her this, so I said, I really want to become a coach to help other stylists within their business.

[00:33:00] Laura Symons: And she looked at me and she goes, Laura, I don’t understand why you’d want to do that, because in order to be a coach and to lead people, you have to be liked, and nobody here likes you.

[00:33:10] Brett Fellows: Oh my goodness.

[00:33:11] Laura Symons: She said that. She said that. Oh, she said that. The words will be burned into my memory and I hate that, and I’ve forgiven her for that.

[00:33:19] Laura Symons: At the same time, it was extremely hurtful. So that was a huge turning point. It felt like a very low point. And I had to rebuild from that where I wasn’t relying on other people’s opinions of me to pave my own freedom. Path of freedom, I should say. And so I had to go through a lot of healing through that, which at the time I really, I felt hurt.

[00:33:39] Laura Symons: I was angry. It was unfair. There was a lot of things that I think assumptions were made, and the reason why she said it was a whole different story, which I will not share, but. It helped me to see hurt people hurt people. And if she was hurt from somebody in her past, she was only repeating that because that’s all that she knows, and she felt for whatever reason, what I shared with her was her opportunity to then do the same thing onto me.

[00:34:02] Laura Symons: That was done onto her. There’s a lot of interesting things that we could take and say like that, that ruins me. If I listened to what she said, I would still be at a salon. I would still feel small. I still wouldn’t have been able to shine my light bright. But I chose to see things differently and I chose to take a different path.

[00:34:16] Brett Fellows: Yeah. Good for you. That’s great. I love how you said hurt people hurt people. But I also love how, I think it’s the healthy people who ask for help. So like you’re talking about your coaches. I love coaches. Do you have a coach still to this day?

[00:34:28] Laura Symons: I do. I do. I work with Elizabeth Faye who is with our industry.

[00:34:33] Laura Symons: I’ve been with her for three years now. She’s transformed every year and I’ve transformed every year. So having good coaches, have good coaches.

[00:34:41] Laura shares who her mentors are and her definition of success.

[00:34:41] Brett Fellows: Yeah. Who are some of your mentors? Who do you look up to?

[00:34:46] Laura Symons: Obviously Elizabeth, she’s someone that when I’m like, hey, I have questions. I go to her because she’s my coach.

[00:34:52] Laura Symons: Yeah, I’ll look up to my husband and I, we talk a lot like he’s someone that I feel very comfortable to bounce ideas off of. If I’m feeling a certain way, he holds space and listens and then he’ll offer perspective. And the beautiful thing is he’ll ask first. He’s like, do you want to hear my opinion or thoughts or would you like me just to hear, listen to what you have to say.

[00:35:09] Laura Symons: So that’s a very safe space for me to have that place to share and talk to and bounce ideas off of. Within like podcasting and education. I have a lot of really incredible friends that are also coaches. For instance, like Crystal L is someone that I deeply connect with. She’s on this beautiful mission of diversity, equity, and inclusion right now in our industry.

[00:35:31] Laura Symons: She’s in tech development, former salon owner, so we talk a lot. My friend Shelby Bittencore, her and I chat a lot, so I definitely look to people who are peers, but also are growing and achieving things in different ways. Yes, that I look for advice. Outside of our industry. Oh my gosh. Ed Mylett is like my go-to for podcast.

[00:35:51] Laura Symons: I think he is phenomenal. I love the way he thinks. I love the way he operates as a coach. He’s just incredible at inspiring and motivating through storytelling. So I definitely seek out inside our industry and outside of our industry for support.

[00:36:06] Brett Fellows: Yes, absolutely. That’s really cool. Good for you, what is your definition of success?

[00:36:17] Laura Symons: There’s this part of me still that has this definition, and I would like to not admit this, but there’s like a financial success that I’ve always created, and when I hit the threshold, I’m like, okay, well what’s the next one? And I would love, I would love to have this amount that was grossed, just to be like, I achieved that.

[00:36:36] Laura Symons: That doesn’t really mean a success though. I think when it comes down, like the truth behind the financial numbers that I make for myself and my business really comes down to the path, like the choices, the directions, the sacrifices, the dedication that goes into it. Those things are what the success truly embodies and makes up.

[00:36:56] Laura Symons: And I can look back on all of the small and the large glass ceilings that I’ve created and broke through and compile a list of what it took to get there. And that to me is like. That’s success. So like the money is just, the money’s a reflection. It’s great. It’s like a trophy. Like, here’s my trophy.

[00:37:15] Laura Symons: The true intention and dedication and decision making and sacrifices. And people like to say things otherwise, but I’m like, sacrifice has to be made when it comes to reaching a goal. Whether that’s not having plans outside of, not making plans with your girlfriends or not taking that trip or not buying that thing that you want to buy.

[00:37:34] Laura Symons: Whatever your goal is, there are things that have to be like sacrificed in order for that one thing to happen.

[00:37:39] Brett Fellows: Yes. That’s great. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. To bring us back and wrap up, I want to go back to your coaching and how people can get in touch with you. I guess I’ll start with, when stylists come to you, what’s their biggest pain point?

[00:37:57] Brett Fellows: What are they most searching for when they first engage with you?

[00:38:01] Laura Symons: The majority of the time, because what I speak about most is money is I am not making the money I wish I was making. Or right now my big focus is hiring and training assistants. So it’s, I would like, like I’m too busy and I don’t know what to do with my business and I don’t know how to bring on an assistant.

[00:38:20] Laura Symons: So it’s either going to be the pain point of I don’t make enough money in my business and I don’t know what to do to find more clients, or it’s going to be, I want to scale my business and do what you’ve done, and I don’t know how to do that either.

[00:38:32] Brett Fellows: Yeah. And you help them with the roadmap, but also I’m sure there’s a lot of honest conversations that have to be had or to walk down that roadmap. Is that fair?

[00:38:41] Laura Symons: Oh, a hundred percent. I step behind any of those. Decision making is going to be the first thing to come. And even in the course that we have right now, the Micro Salon Experience, as consulting based as it is, there is still things that we, I see stylists come to the program with past experiences.

[00:38:59] Laura Symons: Not similar to what I shared, but in an aspect of having that memory of what happened in the past kind of burned into their core where they can’t let that go saying, I had an assistant, this is what happened, and I’m afraid to do another one. Or I’m afraid to move forward, or I’m afraid to charge more money for my prices.

[00:39:15] Laura Symons: And it’s just, it’s a lot of working through limiting beliefs. And allowing them to let go and not holding onto those where they hold you captive.

[00:39:25] Brett Fellows: Excellent. And so Laura, how could, if a stylist is feeling that way and looking for someone like you, how can they best get in touch with you or look at some of your programs or some of the things that you offer?

[00:39:38] Laura Symons: So I can be found either through social media, so @IamLauraElizabeth is my handle. In my LinkedIn bio, there’s tons of options to sort through. Free resources as well as smaller courses that you can take and then see more about my programs. That is all linked to my website, which is Iamlauraelizabeth.com.

[00:39:58] Laura Symons: And that is a whole library of all the things. I got podcast interviews, I have free resources, I have the mini course, which is the Abundant Business Blueprint. It’s like the lowest option to get into to start doing some coaching with me. You get access to an online portal, which allows you to go through a three-step course of revamping your business.

[00:40:18] Laura Symons: And then as well, more information about the Glass Ceiling Academy and the Micro Salon Experience.

[00:40:21] Brett Fellows: Yeah, that’s great. And we’ll be sure to have links to all of that in the show notes of the podcast. So thank you for that. I appreciate your time today. I know you have got a little one waiting for you anxiously and probably getting close to the witching hour.

[00:40:35] Brett Fellows: I thank you Laura Symons for being a guest today on the Unchained from the Chair podcast.

[00:40:40] Laura Symons: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you. And anytime you need a guest, I’d be happy to come back on. I love our conversations.

[00:40:49] Brett Fellows: We’ll hold you to that, so thank you.

[00:40:51] Laura Symons: Thank you so much.

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