Phorest FM Episode 194: April & Nikki Dominguez On Growth, Community & Chasing Your Dream Career

Beauty professionals and beauty careers are highly impactful industries. Yet, what’s not talked about is that beauty service careers are often seen as frivolous — and not taken seriously. They’ve been underrepresented in professional advancement and career tools.

April and Nikki Dominguez, respectively CEO & President of Handsome, share the same vision and values: to provide resources and tools to an industry and community of people who’ve been overlooked. As such, in this episode, we discuss community and networking, the industry’s current need for connection, what all people with successful careers have in common, and of course, Handsome — a platform supporting barber & beauty professionals in charting a course for themselves, challenging norms, and reclaiming a term of authority.


April Dominguez

April is a graduate of The University of Texas, El Paso, where she received a full ride scholarship on behalf of the Daniels Fund for being a highly motivated minority individual with high potential. She spent six years as Vice President at an investment startup that raised and invested over $130M during her time there. April has been awarded Employee of the Year and was a winner of the IAmSoGal Pitch Competition, Austin. She’s committed her life to community enhancement, is an avid philanthropist, and has led multiple fundraisers and teams across the finish line of the NYC Marathon and Dam that Cancer. Her mission is to motivate people to reach their truest potential, act as a voice for and create highly impactful cultural and economic change for under-represented communities.

Nikki Dominguez

Nikki brings over a decade of experience in the beauty and salon industry. She’s built two beauty academies and one school licensed by the state of Colorado, management training strategies & corporate office structure while growing a team of 70 to a team of over 150 stylists. She spent six years building beauty and educator systems in New York City. Prior to joining the salon industry, Nikki studied Psychology at the University of Northern Colorado. She’s a mentor, educator, yogi, and meditator. Nikki is passionate about creating change in an industry where their profession has often been labeled a “last resort.” Nikki’s life’s work has been to challenge the norms in an archaic industry so that beauty professionals feel empowered, inspired, and have the tools to chase the careers of their wildest dreams.


Killian Vigna: If you were listening to last week’s episode, you might remember we introduced a brand new concept: thought-starters. Before we wrap up an interview, Zoé’s going to pick a random question from a deck of thought starter cards to ask each of our guests. And because we’re so grateful to you all for taking 40 minutes out of your day to listen to us, we wanted to turn the microphone around and open the conversation up to you through Instagram Live.

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Last week, we asked Ashleigh Hodges, what do you want your legacy to be? And for her, it was to leave the earth a better place. After taking it Live we had another answer to that question we thought deserved a shout out, and it was one of a writer who said that they hope their legacy would provide joy to their readers and get them to dream at least for a few pages. So, what’s your legacy? Who are you inspiring?

Killian Vigna: We both enjoyed the Instagram Live, and we aim to keep these going every Tuesday. So, if you enjoyed the Live or if you missed it and want to get involved, check out our Instagram page when we’ll post the times that we’re going to go live, but it will be every Tuesday — so don’t forget to tune in. Also, don’t forget to listen to the end of this interview for this week’s question so that you can prepare your answer.

The "aha" moment [01:36]

April Dominguez: You cannot be what you cannot see. If you can see it in your mind and you can visualize it, then great, you can become it. But if you can’t even visualize it because you’ve never seen it exist in your reality, then how is it going to become? And so, that’s why I think community is so important because when you start tapping into these networks where you see other people doing it. Then you start to realize this goal is attainable. I’m seeing them doing it. This goal is attainable. I’m seeing them doing it.

Nikki Dominguez: When you look at the industry specifically, and you see those people who are successful — and success can be behind the chair being fully booked. It can be owning your own salon, ten salons. It can be going opening up your own product brand. There is a very consistent path of learning. Always be learning.

Introducing April & Nikki Dominguez [02:21]

Killian Vigna: For this week’s topic, we’re shedding light on the professional challenges seen in the salon industry.

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: On the show with us today, two sisters who share the same vision and values: to provide resources and tools to an industry and community of people who’ve been overlooked. They’ve been featured by Business Insider, American Salon, Modern Salon, Beauty Changes Lives, and many more.

Without further ado, we’re happy to welcome Nikki and April Dominguez of Handsome to Phorest FM. Handsome is an app with a mission to provide beauty professionals with equal career opportunities that allow them to creatively build the careers of their wildest dreams and to do so on their own terms.

Ladies, thank you so much for being on the show with us; it’s a pleasure to have you on today!

Nikki Dominguez: Thank you for having us! We’re excited to talk to you guys today. We’ve already had kind of a fun little chit-chat back and forth before we got started. So, we know it’s going to be good!

Killian Vigna: Yeah, I have to say you guys really woke me up because I was feeling a little tired, it’s near the end of my Wednesday. You guys have just started your Wednesday, and I feel nice and preppy again. Thank you!

Nikki Dominguez: Yeah, you’re welcome! We can all thank coffee and yoga.

Killian Vigna: Coffee and yoga. Yeah.

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Yeah. So, we’ll speak of which, we’re recording this it’s a Wednesday. I know both of you encourage your community to set intentions on Wednesdays. So, what are yours for the week?

April Dominguez: That’s a good question. I actually… I set different intentions every week. Sometimes I set different intentions by the day, but this week my intention was just to experience joy throughout every single day, every single moment. And to celebrate the little successes.

Killian Vigna: I like that. Try and beat that Nikki, yeah?

Nikki Dominguez: You know what! Actually, I have a little sticky note. April was talking that we do set intentions. We encourage our community to set intentions. And one of April’s tips was she goes through, and she writes those things on sticky notes and then sees, goes back through her sticky notes to see if she did that. Mine… April, we’re so vibing. Mine was actually to experience ease, joy, love, and abundance this week.

April Dominguez: Oh, nice!

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: So in sync!

April Dominguez: I love the sticky.

The industry's changing landscape & challenges [04:25]

Killian Vigna: So look, listen, guys. In some ways, the pandemic has brought people together, but networking has always been a huge part of the hair and beauty industry. How do you think the landscape is currently changing? What do you anticipate for 2021?

April Dominguez: Yeah, that’s a great question. In the industry, there was already this huge transition happening before COVID, and that was a transition of people going independent. There’s been this big wave of independent educators coming about, and with COVID, it really amplified that. It amplified those existing educators, and it amplified the individuals working for their own salon suites or going into private work.

And so, what we really see with COVID is that because it has amplified these workers going more individual, there’s more need for connection now than ever. And that’s a common theme across a lot of industries. There’s more need for this connection and especially for that digital connection. And so, what we see in 2021, and I know Nikki, you’ll probably have some more insight onto this as well, but it’s going to be this… I think in 2020, a lot of people were getting very used to testing the waters, what’s going to happen, and people have settled in now. They know what the new norm is. They know… They’ve had new goals, are ready for a new year. And so, we actually think that education is going to ramp up a ton in 2021, and that’s going to be a lot on the independent educator side.

Killian Vigna: So, do you think it’s actually going to be for the better now moving into 2021?

Nikki Dominguez: I think so for sure. I mean, to say what April was saying, that 2020 was that year of transition going from, you know, people were exploring this independent side going, becoming 1099, booth rental, suite rental, private work. COVID accelerated that for sure. But what it did do, is it disrupted what hairstylists in this beauty industry typically used to for connection. And that is education events. I know you guys have hosted them. I know that you’ve had really wonderful people come and speak at your events. That’s how the industry connects and finds a community and finds inspiration; is by being at these educational events.

So, to have that kind of taken away, it really did force the industry to go in a different direction, to become more digital, to know that they can reach out via Instagram DM, Handsome, finding these resources that are going to really allow them to engage with each other because we’re so disconnected. But I do firmly believe — I know April and I believe the exact same thing — education is going to be huge in 2021. We want that in-person connectivity just as we want that connectivity when we’re working behind the chair, especially because we’re more independent. So, definitely education, education, education!

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Aside from the social distancing aspect of things, do you foresee any kind of big challenges that we still need to overcome as an industry in that education part this year?

April Dominguez: Yeah. I think that one of the biggest overarching themes has been unionization. Whether it’s a modern-day unionization or I think that’s the direction that the industry is going, but that’s a major challenge that was again amplified because of COVID. And you can see what has happened in California. You have people like Eric Taylor, who’s talking about it all the time and really showcasing what’s happening to salons in California. And what’s happening is, they’re not being recognized because they don’t have a voice, because they’re not a community, because they’re not a union. And so, I think that that’s one of the challenges that needs to be overcome by the industry in order for them to really level up and succeed together.

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: By saying that, it just reminded me there’s… In the UK, the beauty industry was really fighting up until just recently when it came into effect. But they were fighting to be recognized as their own sector, especially for anything that had to do with financial help and grants and tax and stuff like that. And it’s just happened, but it’s been like years people have been fighting for this. And I think it’s a global kind of challenge and yeah…

April Dominguez: It’s totally shocking because you think about other trade industries; they have unions, they have support, and me and Nikki talk about this all the time, but it’s shocking because the US has more hairstylists in it than they have doctors or police officers, but they’re not a collective union. And so, and that’s just hairstylists. That’s not talking about barbers and makeup artists.

Nikki Dominguez: And we get grouped in under laundry services. So, when you’re going to file taxes, and you’re looking to file things, corporations, anything, there’s a lot of things that we’re still combined, and this is in the U.S, I don’t know about elsewhere, but when you go through, and you look at these categories, we’re under laundry services. So, it’s like, what the heck? We’re actually a profession or a trade. We’re not a towel.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. So, what’s been currently done then to, I suppose, fight the good fight and separate you from those other services and really kind of stand you out there? Is there anyone leading the way for you? Maybe that is you two?

April Dominguez: I think that there’s a number of different organizations that are really putting a strong effort towards this, especially because of COVID. And it’s from the big corporations from the top-down, but also from the salon owners at the bottom. Like, salon owners just sued governor Newsom in California. And so, it’s movements like that that are actually making a difference. And that are actually shining a spotlight, and it’s people that are coming together with data showcasing that “people aren’t getting COVID in salons, so why are we being shut down?” So, I think it’s happening from both angles, which is how it has to happen in order for change to actually occur.

Nikki Dominguez: And that’s one… One of our goals though, is to be that platform where you can find these types of resources when you’re going searching in the beauty industry, like where are you seeing these conversations happening? They’re not. They’re happening between really disgruntled salon owners. They’re happening on comments on Instagram, but where are they really happening so that you actually have insight into when your state is voting to something that really affects you?

And so, there’s a number of players that are out there that are really trying to change. How we see ourselves playing a part of that is being that resource where everybody can come together, and you can find out what’s happening. You can see like, “Oh my gosh, here’s this group about the U.S salon industry. They’re voting against X, Y, and Z. They’re wanting to unionize.” Whatever the topic may be, there’s no insight. That’s where we see we’re bringing really large value to the industry; it is a place where everybody can go and actually find that information and start having these conversations, so we’re not just walking around blind.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, sure. One of the biggest problems of making change is everyone feels like they’re an individual and “Well, what can I do? I’m only just one person. I’m only one salon,” but you’re creating a platform that everyone can unite together on that. That’s brilliant.

The roots of the Handsome app [11:16]

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: So, speaking about that, then, do you want to delve into what exactly you guys do at Handsome? It’s quite new essentially; it’s only been a year now.

April Dominguez: Yeah. So, Handsome is… We’re community-focused at our core. So, we are an app, and we are a community-based app where anyone in the beauty and barber industries can be connected to career advice, education, and jobs. At our core, what we’re doing is we’re providing easier and better visibility into anything you need in your career. Whether it is a question that you want to ask somebody incognito and anonymously, whether it is looking for that next ongoing education for the next stages in your career, whether you’re looking for resources or jobs. So, we are a community that allows beauty pros to find all of this information.

Nikki Dominguez: Yeah, and really what’s at the heart of why we’re doing this… Both April and I have a shared vision of really helping people and pave the way for those who are less fortunate or who have had struggles in their lives. When we think about the beauty industry, people are already stigmatized by 18 years old that, “Oh, you’re just a hairstylist, so what can you really do? Oh, you’re probably making 20, $30,000 a year, that’s not very impressive. Oh, you’re doing this so you can get through college.” And that couldn’t be farther from the truth. What we are doing is really wanting — and we are — raising the tide of an entire industry and millions of people who choose to be in this career because they want to be, not because they have to be. So we have resources that they can level up and education and all these things, but we really want to pave the way and impact how this profession is seen from here on out, for sure.

Killian Vigna: The app is designed to help people find success in their careers. Would you measure… If you were to evaluate yourself, would you say, “Yes, I’m in quite a successful position,” or would the app be a way of kind of helping yourselves try and find your own success? Is that where it kind of stemmed from?

Nikki Dominguez: Yeah, so, I’m a hairstylist. I’ve been a hairstylist for 11 years. And when I started, I actually went to college first and graduated with two degrees and still came back to this industry because I love it so much. So, I didn’t actually start my career until I was 26. And I felt like I had to catch up. Everybody typically starts when they’re 16, 17, 18. So, I felt like I had eight years that I had to cram in really quickly. So, I threw myself into education. I threw myself into learning.

I made myself uncomfortable by going through and doing free haircuts for six months so I could build a clientele. So for me, it was really about providing resources that I feel like I did not have in this industry when I started. There was nobody telling me: “This is how you build a clientele. This is how you market yourself. This is how you, step one of a haircut.” You don’t really learn a lot of that stuff in beauty school. So, for me, it grew this massive passion into, man, it was such a struggle for me to figure out how to do all of this stuff and find these types of resources.

When I moved out to New York, I went on Craigslist to find a job! It’s like, walking around New York City in July, 107 degrees with a paper resume, is just not how you think about finding a professional job. On my side, it was really about creating a place where these resources that I did not have would be easily accessible. You can go here, and you can research classes. You can understand what should I be taking at what point in my career?

And so for me, I’m 11, 12 years into this career, I’m doing more of Handsome and working on Handsome than I am working behind the chair, but I still use it as a resource. So, whether I was 26 starting out, or now 37 working on Handsome, I still go to this app, and I still talk to people and give back and mentor and ask questions. So, it can be for any stage in your career, and that’s really how we want it to be.

April Dominguez: Yeah, and I would say that what we really recognize — because Nikki and I, and for the audience, I don’t know if they know, we’re co-founders and sisters. And so, what we really recognize… I came from a career in startups in oil and gas in business. I always had access to those digital networks that helped me find more success, which helped me find more peer support and career advice. And in our conversations, Nikki would be talking about her goals, what she wanted to reach, who she wanted to reach, and how she wanted to get the education out.

And I was like, “How are you going to get it there?” And she’s like, “Well, we have Craigslist!”

This is where it all started because it was this epiphany of why, because I’m in tech, in oil and gas and all of these quote-unquote respectable careers, do I have these unlimited tools and resources, but when you’re in the beauty industry — even though it’s going to climb to 190 billion in the next two years — you don’t have access to the same tools? Because it’s overlooked. And so, that’s really where this all started for us.

Killian Vigna: It goes to show like you do have to look outside the industry sometimes to actually find new ways for innovation and growth.

Mindset, success & getting out of a rut [16:20]

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: You’ve both obviously spoken to a lot of people at various stages of their career, whether that is through your podcast Beauty Means Business or through just business relationships or networking itself. And did you ever notice patterns of thought or a specific type of mindset that people would have when they’re on a path to success? Like, you know that they’re really killing it right now.

April Dominguez: Yeah, I think that one of the things that we’ve really recognized in the industry is it’s… There’s this theme of entrepreneurship. Every beauty professional is an entrepreneur. They’re building their own books; they’re figuring out how to get their own clientele. They’re marketing themselves on Instagram; they’re doing everything to build their own career.

And so, they’re an entrepreneur, and one of the themes is that they’re constantly seeking additional business knowledge that they’re not typically given access to. And so, the mindsets that we actually just had on a conversation yesterday on Clubhouse is this difference between a growth mindset and I can’t remember — stagnant mindset maybe?

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Fixed?

April Dominguez: Fixed! Thank you, Zoé! [crosstalk] And that’s really what we’ve recognized is that beauty professionals right now really have this growth mindset. They, especially because of COVID, they’re recognizing they have to go and venture outside of their comfort zone to get to that next phase of their career.

Nikki Dominguez: Yeah, and I think that really ties into growth mindset, the industry in general, and education. For me, it’s when you look at the industry specifically, and you see those people who are successful, and success can be behind the chair being fully booked. It can be owning your own salon, ten salons. It can be going opening up your own product brand. There is a very consistent path of learning. Always be learning. And those are the people you are seeing that are successful because they’re just taking classes, absorbing the knowledge, just want it all, and are hungry for it.

And they’re willing to go like, “Oh, let me learn how to do that. Let me learn how to do this.” And then they come back out on the other side, and you’re like, “Wow, now you’re turning around, and you’re teaching it, and you’re giving back, and you’re mentoring.” I think in the beauty industry, it’s very powerful here to be a mentor, be an educator, and absorb as much information as you want. So, definitely, that growth mindset, that learning mindset, and taking in all the knowledge you can.

Killian Vigna: Do you ever find yourself just getting stuck in a rut though, where you’re trying to learn as much as you can, and then you hit that stagnant mindset, we’ll say? Where you’ve just stopped, and you’re gone, “No, that’s it. I’ve hit the wall.”
What happens when you get to that stage? And how do you get through? First off, how do you identify that you’ve gone from growth to fixed?

Nikki Dominguez: Oh, for Pete’s sake. That has happened to me many times. And I would say recently it’s been because I went from working behind the chair and being a hairstylist in educating and mentoring to coming into technology and startup land, and that was just like been hit with a semi-truck.

I was just like, “What is happening right now?” Because it’s just like, I have such a different thought process, and then you have to jump into something so different. And so, for me, it didn’t even feel like I went into a fixed mindset. It felt like I went into a reverting mindset. I was like, “I feel like I’m in kindergarten again because I have no idea what I’m doing.”

So, I think for me, I physically feel it in my body, I physically feel just drained and stuck, and I can’t focus, and I’m overwhelmed. And when you go into that mode, it’s a survival mechanism. You go back to everything that you can remember that got you to where you were, but you always have to remember: “What got me here, won’t get me there.”

And so, when I get into that mindset, things that work for me are, yoga is huge for me, meditation, journaling, dancing has been a really big one for me in 2020, making sure that I’m moving my body so that I can start to move that stagnant energy out of me. And so, I think especially being a hairstylist, I’m used to standing up and moving, and that’s something that I really recognized that now I’m sitting and staring at a computer screen a lot. And that is very difficult for me. So, I have to find ways to move my body and be engaged in my physical presence. So for me, that’s something that I’ve recognized what happened, how do I identify it, excuse me, and how to get out of it.

What makes someone good at networking [20:43]

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: In terms of… I just want to bring back to networking real quick, when you think of people who are just really good at networking — because we talked about the mindset you need for growth. So, just always keep learning kind of thing. But you also need that networking part of things to build a standout presence and career portfolio and stuff like that. Right. So, what do you think gives those people their edge?

April Dominguez: Yeah, that’s a really good question. And I think this is so important because I think that a lot of beauty professionals look at networking, and they get intimidated because it’s looked at as a corporate thing, it’s looked at as, “Oh, after your nine-to-five job and your tech office in a high-rise in downtown, you go and have happy hour and you swap business cards.” You know, that’s how people see networking—

Killian Vigna: Is that not how everyone does it, no?

April Dominguez: That is a form of networking. But for me, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I believe that we’re networking every single second of every single day. And what makes somebody an incredibly strong networker isn’t the desire to connect and exchange something. It’s taking a genuine and authentic interest in learning about somebody else.

And there was a quote that was said the other day, “Instead of trying to be interesting yourself, be interested in everybody else.” And so by networking, if you can find somebody, if you look at let’s call Ashlee Norman, and you want to learn everything about her. If you can be genuinely interested, like, “How did you get to where you got?”

And you can actually ask those questions because you have a deep desire to know how to get there. That’s how you start networking versus when a lot of people think of it as, “Oh, I just want to connect with her and her follow me on Instagram, and we follow each other and then that’s networking, and now we’re mutually beneficial.” It’s really taking this interest in learning about how somebody became successful.

Nikki Dominguez: And I just want to… I hope everybody listening rewinds that for about a minute and listens back to it because April’s a master networker. So, make sure you listen to it again, if you don’t know. And we also are hosting a lot of these conversations on Handsome and providing these tools because I know that’s something that’s not one of my strong suits, for sure.

April Dominguez: When you think about mentors, I think the industry also is mentor-driven, and they often have a hard time finding a mentor because the only way you can find one is if you’re assisting them in a salon or you’re their apprentice. And so, how do you actually find that mentor? And the way to step into that is by taking a genuine interest, finding somebody that you aspire to be like, and taking a genuine interest, asking them, how did you do X, Y, and Z? How did you get here? And that’s how you start to find mentors instead of looking at it as this transactional play.

Killian Vigna: When we think of networking, it’s kind of, like you said before, where it’s everyone going into a room, just like 50 to 100 people. It can be intimidating, especially for someone that’s maybe a bit more on the introvert side of it. Like you’re just, the thought of networking and will put you in floods of sweat.

So, do you think actually COVID has been beneficial in the sense that it’s given people more access to network and because they can do it from the comfort of their own home? Like sitting here, you could be with your top-half suit, bottom-half sweatpants, you’re comfortable. So, now you feel more confident to network as opposed to getting into a full suit and going, trying to mingle with people. And I suppose it just takes the nerves away from it. Do you reckon there’s going to be increased networking events taking place online?

April Dominguez: I think that COVID definitely brought humaneness back into networking. So, it’s okay to have your baby on your lap; it’s okay that your dog is barking in the background. It’s okay that all of these elements are happening, which makes people who get uncomfortable in those events more comfortable. So I absolutely do think that that has played a huge part in it and making it more comfortable for people to network online.

Holding ourselves space for growth [24:46]

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Yeah. I think that brings it back to mindset as well. Like it impacts pretty much everything that you do, from growing your clientele to opening a business, to franchising, to going into education, whatever it is. When you’re in the process, though, of growing change, it definitely can feel uncomfortable.

What are some maybe questions that you could ask yourself just to make sure that you make some space for you to grow into those new ways of thinking, I suppose?

Nikki Dominguez: Yeah. I think the first thing is you have to honor; for me, you have to honor how you got here in the first place. You have to recognize like, “Oh, I went through growing pains before. I’ve been through this before. I’ve been able to learn and find new resources. There was one point in my life I never thought I could do this.” So, I think when you can look back and honor like, “Oh, at one point, this was the dream,” and so I know I had to go through some growing pains. I had to find some information. I had to put things together, and I had to go, go, go, go.

And so, I think that when you can put it in that regard and you just think of your life as this cycle of being able to say like, “Okay, now what’s next? And okay. I might have to go through some growing pains. I’m going to have to find some information. I’m going to have to put myself out there, and then I can go, go, go, go.” And so, I think when you look at it that way, it doesn’t become so daunting, to be like, “Oh, I’ve never done anything this big before,” because at one point where you’re standing right now was the big. It was this unachievable, unattainable thing and goal that you had. And so, I think for me, that’s something that’s always very helpful to recognize.

April Dominguez: Yeah. And I think that a huge component of it is community, and people may not recognize it, but community, that is how you get to where you’re going. You cannot be what you can not see. If you can see it in your mind and you can visualize it, then great, you can become it. But if you can’t even visualize it, because you’ve never seen it exist in your reality, then how is it going to become?

And so that’s why I think community is so important because if you can think of something like, “I want to be a world-class CEO. I want to be a startup founder,” whatever it is you want to be. And then you start tapping into these networks where you see other people doing it; then you start to realize this goal is attainable. I’m seeing them doing it. This goal is attainable. I’m seeing them doing it. I think community is a huge part of it.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. It’s basically like finding someone that has gotten to where you want to be just saying, well, how did they do it? What is their journey? What is their map? Read everything they write.

April Dominguez: Totally.

How to get started on Handsome [27:25]

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: So, let’s say I wanted to join you guys’ community on Handsome. I download the app; I create a profile. And then what happens? How many people can I connect with? Where do I go? What does it look like concretely?

April Dominguez: Yeah. So, it’s super simple. You download the app and the App Store. So, we’re on iOS right now. You can create a profile within 60 seconds. You’re immediately dropped into our Q&A feed. And so, that’s a community where people are asking a ton of questions that are related to the industry. They’re asking questions either as themselves, or they’re asking anonymously because we’ve found that the industry can often be timid and not want to actually admit that they might not know the answer to something. We have over 25,000 professionals in our community right now, from barbers to hairstylists, makeup artists, estheticians, nail techs, even brands, educators, and they’re creating their own micro-communities to host conversations that are specific to them.

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: In that case, then, what would you say are some of the key things to remember when you go about creating and growing your professional presence? And I suppose more specifically on Handsome? Are there any key guidelines to follow?

April Dominguez: The more you give, the more you get.

Nikki Dominguez: Yeah! That was a great answer!

Well, it’s, it’s really built very differently. You know, I think when we talk about anywhere from networking to professionalism in this industry, we’re creating this so that the beauty professional and barber professional can design it to fit them.

We don’t need to go into LinkedIn and become a LinkedIn type of networker. That’s not how we operate. That whole, the more you give, the more you get, that’s that mentorship energy that’s coming out in us, that’s that, growth mindset that’s coming out in us. That’s that wanting to achieve something bigger that’s coming out in us.

Go in there and ask questions that you want to know about, things you want to learn about, how to open up your own salon. There is a wealth of knowledge amongst beauty professionals, and growing our professional presence is really about showcasing what we know, and it’s very different from any other industry out there.

We’re a very visual industry. We’re a very emotional industry. We’re a very creative industry. When you’re providing that type of feedback and insight, you grow professionally because people recognize you as an expert. They recognize you as somebody who has answers and who’s willing to give back those answers.

For Handsome, what we really want people to do is come in and be your own professional, whatever that is to you, and really just help shape the community. And that’s how we built and designed Handsome — to work for the professional to become their own.

Reflections, upcoming events & final words [30:03]

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: And ultimately, that’s what also builds your credibility as a person to contribute and stuff like that, yeah.

Well, listen, April, Nikki, we’re down to this new part of our episodes, and it’s the thought starter cards. They’re thoroughly shuffled, I’ve no idea what’s on top of this deck, but we’ll find out just now! This is perfect timing with today’s episode: describe a time when you sabotaged your own success?

Killian Vigna: That is good. […] Nikki, do you want to kick that off?

Nikki Dominguez: Do I?

Killian Vigna: You look like you’re struggling with it already!

Nikki Dominguez: It’s just funny because this is a topic I’m doing this 40-day challenge right now of meditation, yoga, eating well. And this last week, we’re in week two brought up; I started journaling about it today, actually. It was around self-sabotage. And so I’m like, “Did you guys know that? The universe pulled that card!”

I think for me, this is a daily practice right now. This is something that I am embodying daily, which is knowing who I want to be, who I am, the powers that I have, the knowledge that I have, the skills that I have, and the joy that I have doing all of this stuff. And I think a lot of times I know there’s that Maya Angelo quote, which is wonderful, “Oftentimes we’re not afraid of our darkness, but our light.” And I think that that’s something that is really just something I’m working through.

And I think a lot of people have to work through is, it’s not what the struggles and the difficulties that scare us. It’s just how wonderful and great and joyous and happy that we can be that can often scare us. And so, there are times that you find this self-sabotaging, I don’t have a specific incident, but of when I’ve done this, I’ve been thinking of this mindset that this happens. And to be able to get through that, you just have to keep pushing and show yourself that you can show up for yourself. You can show up for yourself so that you can show up more fully for everybody else. And so, I would say that’s my answer, or I could read my journal… I’m just kidding!

Killian Vigna: Just publish it on the app, and we’ll read it (laughs)!
I think, though, in all seriousness, so many people who listen to this show could probably relate to that answer.

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: For sure, yeah! What about yourself, April?

April Dominguez: Oh, I don’t get a different question?

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: I mean, I can give you a different one, but it’s—

Killian Vigna: You’ve just had three minutes to think of an answer!

April Dominguez: (Laughs) I was so engulfed in her answer; I wasn’t thinking of my own! I think that self-sabotage is limiting beliefs. And so, as a woman… As a Brown woman, being native American, Latina, Hispanic, I have had a lot of subconscious beliefs that have been limiting beliefs my entire life, and coming into the venture capital world, those all got put on blast.

Limiting beliefs as far as very specific things like, “Oh, we can’t raise a $3,000,000 round out the gate. We’re not white men coming from Stanford,” that’s self-sabotage. But it’s a very real thing, so I often get conflicted with, like, but this is the reality. This is what the data shows. This is what’s actually happening to women in venture capital with the fact that I know I’m self-sabotaging, and I have this limiting belief there. And so, I think that there is a balance and an art to knowing that you have this limiting belief in trying to change that subconscious while also not allowing yourself to get beat down by what may come your way.

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: That’s also very beautiful!

Killian Vigna: They are two incredible answers, yeah!

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Ladies, this has been absolutely fantastic, and I’m sure our listeners will agree!

For anyone wanting to connect with you or even just download the app, get started on Handsome; where can people find you online?

April Dominguez: Yes, follow us on Instagram @handsome_app! Download the app in the App Store, connect with Nikki and I on the app! You can also find us at

Killian Vigna: Brilliant, yep! Listen, Nikki, April, thanks so much for joining us on the show. It’s been an absolute pleasure, and I really can’t wait to hear everyone else’s answers for that wild card at the end.

Nikki Dominguez: Likewise, this was great! I appreciate you both so much.

April Dominguez: Yes, thank you!

Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Thank you so much!

Just like Killian mentioned at the start of today’s episode, we are going Live weekly on Tuesdays on Phorest Salon Software’s Instagram account to discuss the thought-starter card in more depth and to get you guys to share your answers as well. So, this week’s question: Describe a time when you sabotaged your own success?

On a completely different topic, we also have a webinar coming up. It’s a discussion featuring Timothy Howard and Tom Bentley Taylor of Vish. Vish is the industry’s leading color management software, and it includes a suite of systems that revolutionize how salons and stylists run their color business. Registration is free.

One last thing, before we sign off, don’t forget to head over to and subscribe to the show’s email newsletter delivered straight to your inbox weekly, on Wednesdays.

As always, if you want to share your thoughts on Phorest FM or this episode specifically, send us an email at And if you’ve got a minute today, head over to Apple Podcasts and leave us a rating or review! We’d love to hear from you.

Otherwise, stay safe, and we’ll catch you next Monday.

Killian Vigna: All the best.

Related links

Follow April Dominguez on Instagram

Follow Nikki Dominguez on Instagram


It’s time to stop absorbing costs. Learn some of the methods that can help you and your stylists quantify and communicate prices effectively, preserving your profit margins in the process. In this session, Phorest integration partner Vish will teach you how to charge your worth in 2021.

Save your spot on “Charging Your Worth: An In-Depth Look At Pricing & Communicating Value,” taking place on Monday, February 15th 2021 at 1:00 pm US Eastern Time.

More specifically:

  • Learn how to break down your color business and understand pricing
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  • Understand how to take control of dispensed color and turn it into a profit center while also focusing on sustainable practices in your business

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This episode was edited and mixed by Audio Z: Montreal’s cutting-edge post-production studio for creative minds looking to have their vision professionally produced and mixed. Great music makes great moments. Tune in every Monday as Phorest FM brings you an inspirational mix of interviews with salon business leaders, marketing tips and salon growth insights. For your industry, by your industry.

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