3 Female Bosses From The Salon Industry Discuss Leadership

women in leadership

It may come as no surprise that the world of business is heavily dominated by male CEOs. Oftentimes, it seems that women in leadership are forgotten about in mainstream media. In the Fortune 500 2018 list, only 24 out of 500 of the most powerful CEOs in the world were female. While there are undoubtedly many women in leadership in the world of business, this is not being reflected in popular publications or media. 

While this figure may seem exasperating, one industry is making a real difference. The salon industry, in which inspiring women are taking over, shows a whopping 93% of leadership roles being female, according to data pulled by Phorest Salon Software*. To celebrate women and of course, International Women’s Day, we’ve interviewed some strong, inspirational girl bosses in the Phorest Family about what being a leader means to them.

Sam Pearce, Director & Self-Proclaimed ‘Head Gnome’ of Garden-Themed Spa The Potting Shed (Batley, England)

women in leadership

[Phorest Salon Software]: How and why did you become a salon owner?

[Sam Pearce]: I had an overwhelming urge to turn the generic salon model on its head, and having come from a spa background, I wanted to mix the two; to make something like a ‘Spa-Lon.’ I wanted to demystify the industry and create a recognised brand. Theming it, considering the environment, and creating our language was key to our ethos. I wanted to create an environment where our clients and staff would be inspired and sold on the concept. I wanted to create an emotional buy-in so they would believe in me and want to share my journey.

[P.S.S]: What does being a leader mean to you?

[S.P.]: It brings with it a sense of responsibility that my contribution is worth something. You have to be authentic. I live and breathe what I do and this, in turn, brings knowledge. I have fought for what I believe in and the change I want to make. I haven’t always got it right, but I have learned from my mistakes, and I have an unwavering belief in what I do. I am courageous and passionate.

I have a clear vision, but I also recognise that my position is open for criticism and judgment and this is something I am still working on. Success doesn’t mean you are bulletproof.  It’s been hard, really hard, but they say “what doesn’t kill you makes your drinks stronger!” I love that and this quote: “When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” (Michelle Obama)

[P.S.S]: What keeps you passionate?

[S.P.]: An overwhelming sense that I haven’t even scratched the surface yet in terms of what I hope to achieve. Sunday, 24th February, saw us winning our 30th award at the Professional Beauty Awards, and this is something I am incredibly proud of. I love seeing how far I can push the boundaries without being crass and I have realised that humour is the thread that runs through what I do.

I love how exciting the industry is. It’s continually evolving, and I love the fluidity of change and adapting to that. I hope I have shown my daughter that grit, determination, and fight against adversity is worth it no matter how challenging. I want to be the role model she deserves.

[P.S.S]: What does being a part of the salon industry mean to you?

[S.P.]: It’s an honour to be part of the beauty industry, although I have do also have my issues with it. Sometimes the fight to make a change can be too great, and the standards of training are just not there in my opinion, which makes it almost an impossible task to recruit. I love being part of a hugely profitable industry contributing to the British economy, but most of all, I love seeing my dream become a reality. I never thought when I had this crazy idea to call a salon environment ‘The Potting Shed’ and launch a skincare brand that I would have achieved what we have today.

Most of all, I love that we can interact with our clientele holistically and make a difference, however small. We provide a service with love, respect and honourable intent. To me that’s what being part of this industry means; being the difference.

[P.S.S]: What advice would you give to aspiring female leaders, both in and out of the industry?

[S.P.]: Every day you have the power to make a better history. Don’t base your decisions on fear, but on hope. Go for whatever it is you believe in and be the best version of you. Don’t compromise and don’t settle. Listen, learn and be kind and mindful to yourself. Be humble, confident and trust the ground under your feet. I have always lived by the quote, “A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.”

Michaella Blissett-Williams, CEO Of Multi-Branch Hair Salon Salon 718 (Brooklyn, New York)

women in leadership

[Phorest Salon Software]: How and why did you become a salon owner?

[Michaella Blissett-Williams]: I have been passionate about beauty from a very young age. I was driven and knew if I committed myself 100%, I would make it. I started my own business from my Brownstone location many years ago, and we are soon to be four salons strong.

[P.S.S]: What does being a leader mean to you?

[M.B.-W.]: I serve my team first so they can, in turn, serve our guests. I truly believe in putting my team first. I want them to succeed in their career and life entirely. I strive to provide a place of work where they have the opportunity for both personal and professional growth. Promoting a healthy work/life balance is crucial, and I always strive to nurture my team in both aspects.

[P.S.S]: What keeps you passionate?

[M.B.-W.]: Education and travel… even better if they are together! I love learning about new hair innovations and attending hair shows and summits. It gets the creative juices flowing, and it’s fantastic to engage with industry professionals.

[P.S.S]: What does being a part of the salon industry mean to you?

[M.B.-W.]: Being a leader in Education within our industry and knowing that I am assisting in developing people who will, in turn, give back to the industry. It’s not just important to build great stylists; we need to have them contributing to furthering our industry.

[P.S.S]: What advice would you give to aspiring female leaders, both in and out of the industry?

[M.B.-W.]: Never underestimate those personal connections you make in the salon. Some of the most important opportunities in my life have stemmed from these personal connections.

Penny Bennett, Owner Of Sitting Pretty Skin Centre and Beauty Salon (Southport, England)

women in leadership

[Phorest Salon Software]: How and why did you become a salon owner?

[Penny Bennett]: Unexpectedly really! Previously, I was an Area Manager for a Bank, where we went into partnership with a beauty therapist. We parted ways after about 3 years in business together, and I was left with a business I was not technically qualified for! I then trained in beauty and started the business, which has been established for twelve years now.

[P.S.S]: What does being a leader mean to you?

[P.B.]: I enjoy helping others with problems, I’m a natural problem-solver. I find it rewarding to see others grow and develop and I like to facilitate learning. I always involve the team in discussing how we can move the business forward. For me, communication is vital. I also love observation, feedback, setting expectations, and showing the “how” of everything that works in the salon. I want to show my team the value of self-confidence, and I want to help them to believe in themselves. We treat each other like family, always prioritising loyalty, honesty, integrity and kindness.

[P.S.S]: What keeps you passionate?

[P.B.]: The enjoyment and pleasure of seeing and hearing our clients be happy. It’s so rewarding to feel as though you have helped a client to feel good when they leave and you have given them a chance to offload some of their troubles. I want to make my clients feel special by pampering them and just listening to what they have to say.

I love it when clients rebook, showing how much they have enjoyed their time with us. Client reviews for my girls are brilliant and make me feel so proud. I love watching my team members develop, do things to improve themselves, and grow in confidence.

[P.S.S]: What does being a part of the salon industry mean to you?

[P.B.]: Lucky really! Ladies come to us usually for positive reasons such as going out, holidays, interviews, weddings, or just to look and feel good. We are in a fantastic role where we have the opportunity to facilitate these things and help people feel good about themselves, which is absolutely vital for wellbeing.

[P.S.S]: What advice would you give to aspiring female leaders, both in and out of the industry?

[P.B.]: Be confident yet humble. Be brave, but not “overconfident. Consider risks. Be prepared to try things. Evaluate each opportunity. If it’s good, do it again and make it even better. If it hasn’t been great, is there a better way to do it? Don’t keep doing the same thing again and again if it doesn’t work. Be realistic. Plan ahead and maximise opportunities. When obstacles appear, don’t give up. Involve and reward your team, and treat them how you would like to be treated. Be the boss you would want to work alongside. Set high standards, show others how they can meet these standards, and be prepared to tackle poor standards. Don’t allow complacency to set in.


Are there any ladies in your life who are killing it in the salon industry? Let us know either in the comments below or tweet us @ThePhorestWord! (Pssst! We’re on Instagram too!)

Thanks for reading! #LetsGrow

The #30Days2Grow Salon Challenge Is Back!

Want your salon team to work together better than ever? Ready to get your clients coming back more often, spending more? Every day for 30 days, starting on Monday, 1st April 2019, we will provide you with impactful, yet easy-to-execute challenges designed to help you strengthen your team and grow your business! Find out more and sign up here.


* According to data from a study of 5733 Phorest Salon Software clients.
Featured image originally part of The Potting Shed Spa’s photo gallery.