How You Built It: Breaking Barriers ft. Bang Salon

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

Small Business Appreciation Week is September 20-26 so to celebrate we are highlighting a few business members who volunteered to share their stories.

The categories are:

  1. Breaking Barriers

  2. Small Store, Big Heart

  3. Out of the Ordinary

  4. Home Grown

  5. Bigger Than Before

Today we will be sharing our first category - Breaking Barriers featuring Bang Salon.

Hi T.J. Thank you for sitting down with us today to share your story!

First question, can you share a bit about you?

"My name is T.J. Farris. I am happily married to Dustin Cash for 6 years and we have a Chihuahua named Dinky.  I have been a Cosmetologist/Hairdresser for 20 years and I absolutely love my career.  I started at a salon named Strandz Salon & Spa and worked there for 4 years.  I worked about 9 months at a tanning salon called Solar Eclipse while I was working on opening up my first salon, Salon James, which was located in the Kaufmann Centre on the Bricks.  I owned Salon James for 10 wonderful years.  I was the only stylist who worked in my salon and I truly loved it being just my clients and I.  I had an opportunity presented to me in my last year at Salon James to purchase an existing salon, Bang Salon & Spa, located in the Vista Pointe Shopping Center in north Kearney.  Dustin and I purchased Bang from Mary Hurst on March 1st, 2015.  We have owned Bang ever since. You've had a great career! Next, tell me about your location; the size, address, style of your space, and what kind of products you carry:

"We are located at 16 W 23rd street on the Bricks in Downtown Kearney.  The salon is 1000 sqft and has 3 hair stations.  The station I work in is actually in its own suite and the other two are in the front of the salon next to each other.  There is also a pedicure room that has two pedicure chairs.  I offer several different services: men's and women's haircuts, color, highlights, perms, waxing, manicures, pedicures, acrylic, dip and gel nails as well.  I offer several different products, there is a little bit of everything.  I always want to offer a wide variety to my clients.  Brands include Kenra, Rusk, Hempz lotions and hand santizers, BioIonic, Hot Tools, Aquage, Redken, Crew, Nioxin, Pureology, Matrix and Vavoom."

You have a lot of options! So tell us, who is your customer? 

"My clientele is 75% female and 25% male clients with an age range anywhere from 5 years to 85+."

Do you have any employees? If so, give them a little highlight.

"I do not have any employees, it is just myself, but if the right person came along, I would strongly consider renting that person a station if it was the right fit."

The theme of your segment is Breaking Barriers: so tell us, how did your business break a barrier in order to be what it is today?

"The original Bang Salon and Spa was 3000 sq feet and it housed 13 hair stations, 2 pedicure chairs, 3 nail tables, a massage and a facial room along with two tanning beds.  When we took over, we rented to 15 people and had two part-time receptionists.  It was quite the change to go from being by myself to having to manage a big salon with 17 people.  Even though we rented our spaces to each person, there was still a lot to manage.  It was a lot of long days and nights at the beginning, for both Dustin and I.  I did the day-to-day managing and Dustin was behind the scenes taking care of book work as he worked full-time outside of the salon.  Once we got into a good rhythm, things seemed to be going pretty smoothly.

The thing we didn't realize, until it was happening, was that the hair industry was changing.  Kearney has been forever a "Booth Rent" town, meaning that each individual rents their space from the owner of the salon.  The new trend that finally made its way to the Midwest was the Salon Suite.  This was a new concept in the industry and it was similar to renting your station, but instead of just a station, you have your own room and it was basically a very tiny salon.  When you rent a suite, you can do whatever your heart desires within your own space.  The biggest incentive to renting a suite is that the stylist can sell their own retail.  This was very, VERY enticing to be able to sell your own products and make all of the profit instead of making a commission, like most salons in this area offer.  A stylist can make anywhere from 10-25% commission on the retail products they sell for the salon they rent from.  The beauty of a Salon Suite is that they can make 50%+ commission. 

So, with this new trend several stylists seized this new opportunity which better served them, their business and their families.  We were at the original location for 4 years and in that time, we lost every single one of our renters.  The market for salons in Kearney is so very saturated.  The last I counted there were over 65 salons.  We couldn't blame any of our renters for doing what was best for them.  We tried and tried for 7 months to rent or hire more stylists, we even offered an hourly rate for new hair dressers just to get them in the door.  With no avail, we had to make a decision or lose everything we had worked so hard to achieve.  I was working crazy hours and we just couldn't afford the big location any longer.  With a lot of prayer and maybe a little luck, we found a much smaller space that would suit myself and 2 other hairdressers, if we chose to rent out stations after the move.  We were able to liquidate all of our extra equipment (10 hair stations, tanning beds, etc.......) and keep what we needed for the new space,  It was quite the feat getting all of it done, but looking back, it was all for the best.  We moved to our new space on the Bricks at the end of March, 2019.  I opened the doors on April, 2, 2019.  I just absolutely love, love, LOVE the new location!!  Things always do work out how they are supposed to, especially when you have faith. 

I also realized over the 4 years we were at the big location that my personality is not one of a good manager.  Dustin has the right temperament when it comes to managing others which makes him a great leader/manager.  I do not like conflict or to have uncomfortable conversations, therefore, I am not a good manager of a large group of people.  We did the best we could at the time and we learned so much.  We don't regret a thing and are so thankful, actually, for the entire experience."

Overcoming obstacles and breaking barriers doesn't always mean doing so in the business world, sometimes it has to do with yourself! What a great story that other business owners can read and relate to.

Next question, do you have any major goals for your business?

"My goal for my career has always been to try and do better today than I did yesterday and to do one thing per day for someone just out kindness.  Whether it's a free eye brow wax, a thank you card sent to a client or just a text telling someone to have a great day, that is what I try to achieve everyday. Also, to break it down in years,

1 year goal: to have one renter with me in the new space that is the right fit. 

5 year goal: to be in a place where I can give back to the community on a more regular basis."

What a great set of goals! So what about owning a small business in Kearney, what has been your favorite part? 

"My favorite part has been the experience and knowledge I have gained being a business owner for 20 years.  My absolute favorite part is enhancing everyone of my guest's natural beauty and making people feel good about themselves."

Alternately, what has been your biggest challenge? 

"The biggest challenge was definitely managing a large group of people and trying make them all happy at the same time.  It just simply isn't possible.  Ha Ha!"

We can imagine! So one final question, do you have any tips for aspiring business owners? 

"My tip and my fellow business owners is to "Do the work you love and love the work you do, if you can do this, you will never "work" a day in your life!"

Thank you, T.J. for sharing the Bang Salon story! Happy Small Business Appreciation Week!

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1007 2nd Ave | PO Box 607 | Kearney, NE 68848

PHONE: (308) 237-3101