Salon Ownership Without The Tangles

WICHITA | Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Beauty professionals in Wichita have access to a concept that allows them to work for themselves without the stress of owning a full-service salon.

Sola Salon Studios, which has two Wichita locations, offers a way for aspiring salon owners to open their own salon studios.

"It is like a mini-mall of salon professionals," said Scott Vanderhoofven, Wichita franchisee for Sola Salon.

"It is like an out-of-the-box way for professionals to run their own business." Each location is home to a variety of stylists, nail technicians, skin care specialists, massage therapists and other beauty professionals.

Professionals can rent a studio from Sola and own their own businesses without the financial challenges of owning a traditional salon. They can set their own hours and prices.

Sola provides professionals with a startup manual to help them attain their salon licenses and other salon essentials.

"We give them the tools to be as successful as possible," Vanderhoofven said.

Owner Stratton Smith created the business in 2003 and opened the first location in Highlands Ranch, Colo., in July 2004. Sola has 19 locations across the nation.

Vanderhoofven opened the first Wichita location on the east side in October 2005 at Siena Plaza, 7724 E. 37th St. North. He followed with a west location October 2006 at the Sterling Farms II development, 2243 N. Tyler Road.

He has plans to open a downtown location by the end of this year. Plans are still in the early stages.

At both Wichita locations professionals can choose from three studio sizes, ranging from 120 to 420 square feet.

The east location has room for about 30 tenants while the west location has room for 24. Both are at least 90 percent full, Vanderhoofven said.

Most of the professionals who have joined Sola have been in the beauty industry for five to 10 years, Vanderhoofven said.

"It is a wonderful place to be," said Jennifer Denious, owner of Bella Derma Esthetics. "It is nice to work for myself." Denious owned her own full-service salon and spa for several years in western Kansas before joining West Sola in September.

"I had 14 employees," Denious said. "And there were just a lot of headaches." Sola helps its clients by furnishing each studio with a chair and cabinets, but allows stylists to make the space their own.

"It is very individualized," said Tracy Peterson, owner of Studio 501 at West Sola. "You can decorate to your taste and bring in whatever products you like." The concept of the salon studio has been well-received not only by the professionals, but customers as well.

"I have a good clientele that I have built up over the years that followed me," Peterson said. "It is more personable and a more 'one-on-one' atmosphere, which my customers like."

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