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Allison Whitehouse isn’t a stylist or a hairdresser, but she has developed a successful formula for others in the field based on entrepreneurship and social marketing skills she learned working in media.
Whitehouse, a business development specialist at a local television station for 18 years, opened Studios West Salon Suites in Farragut about eight months ago after researching the business models currently used in the health and beauty profession.
“I wanted to take the concept and turn it around,” she said.
Many in the profession are forced to work for others at low commission rates for long hours with no benefits or marketing support, Whitehouse said.
Studios West is in a building adjacent to David’s Abbey Carpet on Kingston Pike.
Whitehouse and her husband renovated the space, installing 23 private suites that are leased for 0 per week to professionals ranging from cut and color stylists to manicurists and massage therapists.
“We’ve filled 15 of the suites. I want to see 23 successful new businesses,” she said.
The key to success is marketing, Whitehouse said. In addition to studio space, the most important service she delivers is advising her tenants to use social media, search engine optimization, and services such as Groupon and Living Social to promote their businesses.
Lezlie Price is a stylist who wanted to be able to distribute beauty products to her customers. Often stylists working for others are compelled to push such products to their customers but are not allowed to share in the profits.
“We were very structured in what we could do,” she said.
Working for herself for the first time after 24 years in the business, Price said she has been able to set up a distributorship for Peter Coppela’s Hair Products.
Susan Herrera, a stylist and a wig master who has worked in theater as well as the hospitality industry, always worked for others. Before making the decision to work on her own earlier this year, she knew very little about using social media.
She said Whitehouse has shown her how to use Google, Yelp and other tools to promote her business as well as providing advice on using other business services for payment. She also enjoys the freedom to set her own hours.
“I think this is the future of the business,” she said.
Whitehouse said she agrees that her model works better for the individual service providers than the traditional model. “They can make more money in one day working for themselves than they could in two weeks working for someone else,” she said.
She also provides her tenants with something they would have a hard time providing themselves: a Farragut address. Rents in Farragut can be prohibitive for small businesses, but it’s an ideal location to take advantage of the affluent local customer base, she said