How To Be A Salon Owner & Stylist: Meet Jawni Sears

Current City: Colchester, Illinois

Hi Jawni! Welcome to The Boss Diary! So glad you’re here. Tell me all about your business – Wild Roots Creative.

Hey! Thanks for having me!  Well, I really fell into this “job” organically.  It was never my intention to be a salon owner or a hairstylist really.  After graduating from college with an emphasis in ecological restoration, I realized I was seriously lacking in experience.  I was either going to have to go back to school or work a lot of odd minimum wage jobs, and it really just didn’t line up with any of my long term goals.  It was always a dream of mine to be a mom and be able to have a flexible schedule. A Cosmetology school had just opened up in my neighboring town and with some encouragement from my parents, I thought, what the heck, I’ll try it.  It just so happened that my parents had just taken over ownership of a booth-rental salon in my hometown. Upon graduating, I went straight into salon ownership. You can work decades in this business and still not know everything, so I was very hesitant to dive in head first like this – but sometimes you just have to go for it, and if it doesn’t work out, it just doesn’t work out.  I’m 3 years in now and have one other stylist working with me. Since we are a booth rental salon, I promote my work separately under “Wild Roots Creative.”

Starting a new business can be challenging and can sometimes be overwhelming. What is one piece of advice you would give to women out there who are looking to start their own hair salon business? What steps did you take in order to do this?

Oh my.  It’s very overwhelming, then add in a 24 year old, fresh out of cosmo school, never taken a business class in my life – looking back, it sounds really crazy and maybe even stupid.  Haha. I tend to get the “go for it, and figure it out as we go” approach from both of my parents. I started at the courthouse, and followed all the order of events of registering a business from there.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Owning a business has a huge learning curve. You’re going to make mistakes. People are going to talk to you like you’re stupid, and no one is going to love your business like you do.  Find a good CPA that is fluent in the salon business. Find a mentor. Have a strong web presence. Keep seeking education. This is all important even if you don’t own a salon. Every stylist needs to think of themselves as their own business.  Dress for the clientele you want, create a brand for yourself. What you get out of this business is a direct reflection of what you put in. There is such a stigma to being a hairstylist, and stylists have done it to themselves. You want to be taken seriously?  Then give your clients a reason to take you seriously. – Okay, that might be more than “one” piece of advice.  

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers? 

Social Media and word of mouth.   I have never once paid for advertising to drive business.  I stay active on Facebook and Instagram and keep my websites updated. Those things, combined with an ever running referral program has been what has kept my chair full from day one.  If I do any promotional events, they usually consist of working with other “woman” ran businesses in my area.  

I find it so admirable that you’re also a mom while running your business. How do you balance your career and your family?

Err… I don’t.  Haha. At least well. I get better every week. Honestly, if you do find a balance between the two, is anything ever getting the full 100%?  There are 4 areas of wealth in your life: health, money, time and love. There will always be one area that is really thriving, but with that comes an area that is lacking. It will change with each season of life.  Before baby, I was waking up at 3:00 a.m. with ideas and would go straight to my office and work. Now, I’m waking up at 3:00 a.m., buuut, it’s not for work. All the free time I had pre-baby allowed me to put a lot of systems and funnels in place, and that alone has really allowed me to step away from work more.  It hasn’t been an easy transition for me. I have ideas all day long, projects I want to start and/or finish, furniture that needs dusted, laundry that always needs done, that list applies at home and at the salon. I get anxious just thinking about it. I’m learning how to let some things go, and realize that not everything has to be on the “right now” list.  — Let me tell you, there are LOTS of lists. When I’m really feeling the overwhelm (so, everyday), I write down about three things that REALLY need done that day, and then some other things that need done that week, and further down on the list are things that would be really nice if I could get to, but I give myself permission not to feel obligated to.  

Outside of your business, where can someone find you? Do you have any hobbies or other things that you’re passionate about?

I have so many interests and hobbies, it’s kind of obnoxious.  Anything that involves being creative and learning I’m all about. Mostly though, I love to be outdoors and in nature.  I feel the most at peace and relaxed when I’m in old clothes, dirty in my garden or hunting for rocks.  

Tell me one thing that most people may not know about you. 

A lot of people are surprised to find out that I was in the construction business for 9 years.  One of those years I was a Laborer and worked Heavy Highway Bridge Construction. I really enjoyed it.  – and No, I wasn’t “one of those flaggers” except for a few times.  

Are there any projects you are working on, and/or upcoming events that we should know about?

I’m actually getting ready to collaborate with a local photographer and boutique soon for a photoshoot! 

Name one thing that your hometown city is known for that some people may not know

Funny you should ask that.  My towns population is 1300.  It’s quiet now, but it is full of so much history there is a book and documentary about it called, “The Bootlegger”.  Colchester is a coal-mining boomtown, during the peak of it’s time, it was full of bars. When the prohibition happened, a local man named Kelly Wagle befriended Al Capone and ran booze up and down the state.  There’s so much more to the story, it really just needs to be a movie. The name of my salon “Wild Roots” is partly named for that reason. Colchester is still “dry” from all those years ago. That’s right,, you CAN’T buy a drop of alcohol in Colchester!

Where would you like to be in your life and career five years from now?

Ya know, I don’t have any huge OMG goals set.  So many big accomplishments and milestones have happened in the last 5 years.  I’m finally at a place where I can relax a bit, and focus on what I have right now.  What I really want is to just expand on what I have, so continue to grow my business, my garden and my family.  – I’d also like to start another business separate from the salon.  

Now let’s get a little more personal! Tell me your favorite:

  • Summer activity: Anything by the water and/or dirt
  • Restaurant in your neighborhood: El Rancherito – I’m Mexican food OBSESSED
  • Podcast: I’m a podcast addict: for business, “How I Built This” and “Entre Leadership”, For salon, “The Thriving Stylist”
  • Lipstick: Currently enjoying ‘it cosmetics”
  • Color: Purple
  • Bravo t.v. housewife (wait…do you watch the housewives?): LOVE O.C. and Beverly Hills – Yolanda and Tamara are my girls!
  • Disney movie: I love Fox and the Hound but it’s SO sad I can’t watch it

And let’s get a little more personal, shall we:

  • If you won $20 million dollars in the lottery, what would you do with that money? I would donate some, start a community center for kids in my area, build a new “old farmhouse”, and travel all of the time.
  • How would you describe your best friend in 3 words? Strong, Hardworking, Selfless
  • What is the last good book that you’ve read? I mostly read business books, so they are kind of boring to most people, but I like “Never Split The Difference” by Chris Voss
  • What’s your favorite song on your current dance playlist? TSwift finally got me.  “Look What You Made Me do” – it’s not really “dancy” is it? ha
  • Number one travel destination in the world? Oh man, I feel like I haven’t visited it yet.  I REALLY would like to see Machu Picchu 
  • Who is your male celebrity crush? Eddie Vedder  – his voice.  
  • 3 things on your bucket list?  1. Stay at a Ritz Carlton 2. Visit all 51 states 3. Go on a National Park road trip in an RV