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Life and Work with Chelle Neff

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chelle Neff.

Chelle, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I began my journey as an entrepreneur first by being an employee in the salon industry. I knew from a young age that I wanted to do hair. I enrolled in cosmetology school while in high school at the age of 16, I jumped at the opportunity because it meant directing my path toward exploring a real passion of mine. During my junior and senior years, I attended half days of regular classes and half days of cosmetology school.

When I received my license, I started working behind the chair at Supercuts. I slowly worked my way up the ladder to more high-end salons. Five years later, I got a small suite at the Gallery of Salons in Austin, Texas, and became an independent contractor. That was my first stepping stone towards running my own business.

I was utterly alone the first week I opened my first brick and mortar Urban Betty and had just one hairstylist/contractor for the initial three months. I didn’t hire my first employee until six months after opening. In 2011, we moved into a space that was double the size of our original salon. Now eight years later, I have two locations and almost 70 employees.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
What hindered my career was my inability to ask for help. I have an independent mentality, and while that can sometimes be great, it can also make life harder. I like to do things on my own, make mistakes, fall on my face, AND THEN finally ask for help. One example of this is when I first structured the price list of services for my salon, I offered package deals and all sorts of special discounts. I thought this was the best way to draw in new business. After struggling to make ends meet, I finally ran a report to see how much money we were giving away. It was an astonishing $50,000 in just one year. After that, I humbly decided to hire a business coach and implement the Summit Salon Systems. I restructured our pricing list to an a la carte menu with a limited amount of discounts. Our revenue grew 30% within one year after that! While I still struggle to ask for help, I have learned that it gets easier each year, and my business can only get better when I let go and ask for help.

I would also advise that there are no mistakes, and all movement is forward movement. Anything that you do in this world can teach you something. People might look down on a job working at a beauty supply store, but that very job taught me priceless knowledge on how to stock my retail inventory for my company. Being a receptionist might not be appealing to most, but working in that job taught me the value of customer service and how essential it is to have in your business. Take every opportunity wherever you are to learn every facet of a company because that can give you a well-rounded class of knowledge to apply later on in life when you are doing what you want to do. Every job is a learning experience.

Please tell us about Urban Betty.
Urban Betty Salon has been a staple in Austin since 2005. Whether it’s a maintenance haircut, an elaborate updo, flawless makeup, or a major hair transformation, Urban Betty continues to be a top, reputable salon for people in Austin. Austin is diverse; people are spanning all ages, cultures, and fashion styles. Consequently, the community needs a hair salon that can accommodate this vast diversity. Urban Betty offers a variety of high-quality services with ranging price-points, guaranteeing that the salon can meet a variety of budgets. Urban Betty also has stylists for every spectrum of our guests, from the funky rockabilly to the conservative soccer mom, and everyone in between. That is why our salon is so unique and perfect for the Austin community. By catering to every type of client with any kind of budget, Urban Betty not only embraces the diversity of Austin, but it also embodies it.

I am most proud of seeing people grow within my salon company. I have people that have been with me for almost 15 years. Some started as assistants and now work in our Leadership Team training other stylists at the salon. Others began as receptionists and are now shareholders of the company. It is a fantastic transformation to watch.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve benefited from using?
My latest favorite podcast is The Expanded Podcast with Lacy Phillips. I’m on a constant mission to evolve and expand, and this is the perfect tool for that. It not only gives you tools for your business, but it also gets to the personal side of why you are doing things the way you do them and how to change it for the better.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 1206 West 38th St, Ste 1107, Austin, TX 78705 & 4361 S. Congress Austin, TX 78745
  • Website: www.urbanbetty.com
  • Phone: 512-922-3323
  • Email: contact@urbanbetty.com
  • Instagram: @urbanbettysalon
  • Facebook: facebook.com/urbanbettysalon
  • Twitter: @urbanbettysalon\

Image Credit:
Erin Holsonback

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