Amanda Whelan: Entrepreneur
After I graduated beauty school in 2004, I started working at a chain salon building my haircutting skills & clientele. After a few years of industry experience I was approached by a full service salon asking if I wanted to join their team & have the opportunity to learn from senior stylists. I grew my clientele even more & had access to advanced one on one training at the salon in hair color, updos, makeup & business development. After a few years there, I moved to a different town & continued my career at a new salon rebuilding my clientele. That lead to being promoted to management. I’m always trying to learn more and to be more at every salon I was a part of. Continuing education classes were always a part of my progress.. I became certified in a handful of classes. One being extensions. In 2013, I got married, and had children. Shortly after finding out I was pregnant with my youngest, my husband actually suggested I get into teaching in the industry. I would have the opportunity to work days & be home night & weekends. As stylists we don’t get nights & weekends off very often. So, I did. As I was pregnant with my youngest, I went back to school to get my cosmetology educators license. My first vision was to be an educator for a product or brand. I sent my resume out to a dozen different companies, one being the extension company, I was certified in. Even though you do not NEED to be a licensed educator in the state of IL to educate for a brand. I am a go big or go home type of girl, so I wanted to make sure I had all the credentials. I was asked to join the team of educators on an as needed status, educating at tradeshows, seminars & performing school demos. I was able to travel the states educating artists in extensions. I did platform work at the top trade shows like, Premier Orlando & Americas Beauty Show. This is where my LOVE for educating was started. I continued to travel & educate with the extension company but, parting ways in 2020. My official licensed educator position was in 2013 at Regency Beauty Institute. Still keeping a small clientele on my off days, I started out as a part time educator which lead to full time shortly after as lead educator. Sadly a few years later, they abruptly closed their doors with no noticed to students or staff. I knew in my heart I would never find the same culture I had there with those students and fellow educators. I decided to focus on building a business for artists like myself. ILLINOIS BEAUTY CEU was born OCT2015. Still wanting to service my clients as well I rented a salon suite in the area to try to accommodate both businesses. After a year I was outgrowing the space, but financially I couldn’t make the move to a bigger space. An industry friend asked if I wanted to rent a larger space together, so all 3 business can grow. We went for it. We moved into a larger suite together. Unfortunately, 8 short months later, we realized the environment around us was not for us. She decided to downsize back to her smaller room at our previous location, but I definitely didn’t see that for my goal. Many nights of conversations with my husband about my salon business growing and my education business growing, we talked about having our own storefront. He came across an old business, a small 519 square foot salon in our neighborhood that had moved out. He decided to call to get information on leasing it. 5 months later STUDIO.19 Salon was born March2019.
Illinois Beauty CEU is a continuing education company for Illinois salon & spa professionals & was designed to continue to fuel my passion for education. IBC’s mission is to inspire and educate unlike any other CE classes in the industry while focusing on skills, not selling. As a stylist and licensed educator, I always search for quality education, but they all seemed to be product focused and always ended with a sales pitch. Illinois Beauty CEU is not product driven. It is education driven. Over the years this company as grown so much building a platform for all artists in Illinois to unite within education and share their industry experience & knowledge allowing Illinois artists to get advanced training and earn their state required CE hours. As of today Feb 2020, IBC has 22 educators & 6 business partners. We are always looking to join forces with artists and industry companies to better our endless amazing industry.
Studio.19 Salon is an independent salon where hairstylists/barbers can be their own boss. Studio.19 was designed from my struggles being in the salon suite life and independent artist and educator. Rent for one little room all by myself wasn’t that great of an experience for me. I was quickly outgrew the spaces I rented in those few years in the beginning as my clientele & educational classes grew. I was always looking for opportunities for a better option that BOTH companies could benefit from. After a short time renting the bigger suite with a friend & trying to coordinate our schedules with classes. It became clear I needed have my own space to grow both businesses in the direction I wanted. Today, Studio.19 Salon has 4 stations for barbers/stylists to rent at low cost. An opportunity to be your own boss & service your clients in a comfortable, professional yet still intimate 519 square space. Operating like salon suites but, you have the comradery of being in a salon environment & be a part of a TEAM. I designed this business to help artists like myself to have the freedom to be independent use their own professional products of choose & make their own schedule but also as an educator having the support to help them grow as well. Sunday and Mondays the salon is used for Illinois Beauty Ceu’s classes. The artists working at studio.19 have VIP access to attend any classes scheduled at the salon.
It definitely wasn’t Smooth. I am working behind the chair servicing my clients 4 days a week, Mom duties, Wife duties, Illinois Beauty Ceu is very time consuming because of the planning that goes into a successful class. Studio.19 has daily/weekly duties. I, as an owner need to stay on top of things like making sure towels & capes are cleaned and available for the artists, helping keeping the space organized and assisting the artists when they need it, weather it be helping formulate color clients or posting to the salon social medias to help build clientele at the salon. I am a night owl. When the kids go to sleep that is when I do my research for the industry, I pride myself as a CE Provider to try to stay up to date on all the new laws and rules within our industry to inform artists attending our classes, so they stay in loop. I also design class flyers, prep social media posts, you name it.. I’m a woman with MANY HATS. The one thing I can say that I continue to struggle with is with marketing right now. Social media has been very helpful in giving a platform to promote for the salon as a whole and IBC’s classes but it is exhausting keeping up with the evolving algorithms and hashtags.
What sets these companies apart from others?
Well to be honest… ME. I am a very passionate artist myself, with an extremely supportive husband. I am a mother who wants to show my children what passion and drive can get them. I am the one interviewing educators and having meetings with companies that want to join forces with Illinois beauty CEU to offer IL licensed professionals one of a kind education. I do the marketing, the set up & tear down for classes. With Studio.19 I simply wanted to offer a space I searched for. I wanted to Grow Illinois Beauty CEU & continue to build my clientele behind the chair in a professional setting. In addition, allowing other artists to join me with the same opportunity
“if your more fortunate than others, build a longer table not a wall”.
Success to me?
My view of success has changed over the years. In 2018 I was interviewed for Voyage Chicago Magazine. I was asked this same question and my answer was this exactly: “Success to me is being able to take annual vacations with my family without financial worries, Have classes be FULL, Be financially stable enough to have a storefront for bigger classes and workshops that would also accommodate a daily clientele, A girl can dream right?!”
FAST FWD: its January 2020.
This GIRL got her DREAM.
In 2 years, hard work, late nights on the computer, dedication to have something not like the others and the determination not to stay down when things got rough... don’t get me wrong I wanted to be like, “is this worth it? Am I worth this?” Yep, after a few pity parties of self-doubt I always ended up dusting myself off & used that to fuel my way even the times when I doubted myself... I made it happen.
Today Success to me is looking back at my struggles and seeing the positive waves I’ve made since, not only for myself & my family but for all the artists & educators & their families that are a part of ILLINOIS BEAUTY CEU & STUDIO.19 SALON today.