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The 6 Fix: Questions with industry visionary William Edge

Free-thinker, industry visionary, entrepreneur, and educator have all been used to describe William Edge. Credited for his visionary approach, his name resonates with many throughout the world of hair and beauty. From fashion week to runway shows, to salon clientele, William Edge has transformed and inspired thousands with his work. Even more, have been influenced by his effort to challenge the industry.

Today, William has downsized his business from operating seven salons and an Institute in Seattle, Nashville, and Texas to a smaller Texas only operation in order to prepare for the next chapter in his beauty business.

In this piece we pick William’s thoughts around the beauty industry of today and why he thinks it is due for a change.

This post is part of a series titled – The Six Fix. Semi-frequently we at SalonBiz interview salon and beauty industry professionals around timely topics, industry trends, and …… Each interview is captured in six questions and answers which we share. We aim for these posts to deliver education, entertainment, and foster community between aspiring salon professionals, our customers, and the industry at large. We hope you find value here.

Question 1:

As an owner of multiple salons and an institute, we’d like to know what inspires you about this industry. What shapes your prolonged interest?

Ironic as it may be, I actually don’t like the business foundation of the beauty industry. I’ve been in this industry for over 30 years and have been challenging the stereotypical salon model from the start. I sincerely believe that the structure of the industry as most know it, doesn’t support the desired outcome most are dreaming of. If the industry worked then we all would have a longer list of stylists that have retired, or put their kids through college, and have financial security after years and years behind the chair. As a second-generation hairdresser, until I was a sophomore in high school, I don’t remember my mom not having a second job waiting tables on the weekends to support her family. That is the reality I always strive to change.

Question 2:

How has your work within the industry directly related to fixing what you see as broken?

“Why not?” Has been the question that has guided my effort in fixing this industry. I look at all the other small businesses and wonder why can’t the beauty industry offer things like insurance, paid vacations, paid holidays, education, personal development, and a stable compensation? That mindset has established the groundwork for the non-traditional approach we take at Williams Edge salons and William Edge Institute.

One of the cultural staples we have challenged in our industry has been the culture of tipping. We are the only profession that says we will deliver you a service for ‘X’ price and still expects a tip at the end. When a nurse gives you a shot and it doesn’t hurt, you don’t slip them $20.00. Professionalism requires that we question our foundation and ask ‘Can we do it better?’

Our success in doing things different has presented numerous opportunities for us to share our philosophy all over the world. When we see a change in people’s approach, the better chance the industry has to evolve.

Question 3:

What advice would you give to future generations aiming to make it in this industry?

You need to prepare for the reality that this craft requires more than just intellectual learning. There used to be a lot of great teachers to learn from and now we have YouTube. In our type of business, there are two folds of learning. The intellectual and the physical. No one can think themselves to a great haircut. A great haircut requires precision. There is a specific way to hold the scissors…ideal placement of your feet. Details that are taught, applied, and mastered through educational experience.

The actual implementation of this business is harder than people give it credit for. Apprentice programs will never be replaced because of this. Anyone can do a $25-30 an hour haircut. However, when you go up the ladder, there are less and less people. Education, experience, and mentorship are all required if you truly want to go beyond a paycheck and have a career. Who invests in you and your future can truly determine your longevity in this industry.

Question 4:

How has COVID-19 pushed your business to stay ahead of the unexpected?

I’ve been operating ahead of the unexpected way before COVID. Nothing has changed too much when it comes to safety in a salon. Something that people may not realize is that sanitization is the only thing that salons are inspected on. The paperwork, waivers, and additional sanitation processes are what has changed.

With that, it’s not about staying ahead, it’s more about how we respond to it. We couldn’t predict this time. We’ve focused on getting our business back to as normal as possible using the information and technology available to us. Online and mobile salon management has further embedded itself into our operations. Our salons follow a defined process, so our guests understand that all precautions have been thought out.

Question 5:

What trends do you see in the beauty industry for 2021?

For salon owners, it is a tough time, and hopefully one ready for change. The trend I would like to see is where we start infecting younger hairstylists with a sense of history. A sense that gets them excited about growing in this industry. This industry has always been a leader, a place where creativity forces evolution and growth. I’d like to see more of that. A re-energize of the industry.

Question 6:

Is there anyone that has contributed to your deep involvement in the industry?

Absolutely my mother, Judy. She ran a salon that I spent a lot of time in when I was younger. I witnessed firsthand the challenges of the industry by listening to the conversations between my mother and other stylists. I never thought I would join the beauty industry and yet years later, here I am. As the saying goes ‘what you resist, persists’.

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William Edge Institute

651 N Business IH35, Suite 330 New Braunfels, Texas 78130