Alexis Madayag is traveling around the United States meeting Vagaro businesses and learning about the ways they support the unique needs of the individuals they serve. Alexis is deaf, and doesn’t let that get in her way of living life to the fullest. In this segment of Alexis on The Road, she met the folks at No Name Salon in Los Angeles, California. 

Alexis On The Road

No Name Salon is a well-established beauty business including a myriad of hair services from haircuts to color correction to the “Brazilian Blow-Out” and more. While in L.A. this summer, I decided I needed a fresh cut and headed to the downtown area.

No Name Salon is pretty, spacious, and modern, filled with plants and simple decor throughout the many hair stations. I was pleased to see that the owner Harlee Showalter and her employees work hard to make sure the studio is clean to protect clients, including six feet separation between hair stations. When I came into the studio, I was greeted by the receptionist, who promptly used Varago to check me in for my appointment.

I was so lucky to have the owner, Harlee Sowalter, do my hair! She asked me how I wanted my hair done, and I showed her a short hair picture. I was ready to get a fun, short cut that would bring out my curls. First, she washed and conditioned my hair in the wash area. Then back at the salon chair she trimmed my uneven hair into my desired length. It felt so good to bring my hair up above my shoulders! It was a much-needed transformation.

Harlee was so kind and attentive, asking me if I needed water or anything else to make the experience comfortable. I enjoyed watching her in her element, taking her time to make sure each curl fell perfectly. We discussed how I take care of my hair, and she educated me on which products are the best to keep my mane healthy and bouncy.

Checking out and paying through the Vagaro app was an absolute breeze and provides a safe, no-contact payment option. Finding No Name Salon, booking my appointment, paying, and rescheduling were all made simple and possible with them using Vagaro. The app is also disability and Deaf friendly, offering the ability to leave notes on your selected services. It was easy online booking and easy communication.

Alexis gets her hair cut at No Name Salon
Alexis gets her hair cut at No Name Salon

Harlee’s husband, Matt Showalter, answered questions that I posed via email:

What was your inspiration when starting your business?

For us, we found ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic and opportunity. Rates on commercial retail were down, and the salon my wife (Harlee) was at in downtown Los Angeles since we moved to California in 2019 was veering off the tracks. I felt like we could take some of our background and success from our first salon in Utah and implement them into a larger demographic. But above all, just taking the plunge and having faith that everything will work out.

How does your business support the unique needs of different individuals? Is there anything you do differently than other businesses like yours?

No one person or personality is identical. Each client comes in with a unique perspective on how their hair ‘should’ look, and our stylists work to tailor the ideal to the realistic. So, in essence, we’re always molding and readjusting to support the unique needs we face on a daily basis.

What’s something we do differently than other businesses? It isn’t really different; I would say the one thing I could show you about any business that’s successfully operating today: customer service and leadership. I’ve had the notion of customer service drilled into me from an early age and always see myself in the shoes of a customer and how I’d want to be treated. We’re in such a customer-facing industry that having strong values and doing the right thing is key to any organization’s success. You can’t please all, but you can set your standards high and replicate it day after day.

How does Vagaro help your business operate efficiently and grow?

Something that amazed me with Vagaro was people over profit during the pandemic. It was evident that businesses were struggling. Instead of sending a cheerful “We’ll get through this” email, they took action and reduced the monthly service fee for its product when businesses like ours were ordered to a screeching halt.

The software itself is solid and sees useful features added and refined – usually as a customer request or a general way of improving efficiencies. If you migrate from another provider, you can tell Vagaro is a true salon software built for salon owners and stylists, not just a boilerplate POS system and calendar.

Has the pandemic changed the way you think about the services you provide your customers?

Businesses will never be the same post-pandemic. What do I mean by that? Well, for one, we realized how much we (our stylists) enjoy being in a salon setting. Even though the allure of doing house calls seemed romantic at first, it became problematic for the outcome of their hair. It seemed to disregard the client/stylist relationship, which oftentimes involved stylists driving around for hours at a time and finding clients’ “Home Hair Sanctuary” less-than-desirable when they arrived. Secondly, it made us realize how many people were willing to keep up on their hair at home and how we weren’t prepared with to-go kits or virtual instruction. So, I’d like to think that we could better pivot should we ever face the unforeseen again.

Another thing that didn’t seem to gain the recognition it deserves is Vagaro’s COVID-Friendly Checkout Option that allows clients to complete the transaction from their phone without swapping pens or plugging pin pads. This should be a model for more industries to have confidence in their software provides having the ability to adapt to changes and provide quickly.

What makes your business different from the others? How do you stand out?

What’s up with our name? We feel like No Name evokes quiet confidence and doesn’t stand for one singular identity. We believe in creating a space that’s open, welcoming, and warm.

Any advice you would offer other business owners who are just getting started?

You started. Congratulations! You’ve already accomplished more than most who always say they’re ‘going to’ but fail even to get going. The road is long and often full of failure and disappointment along the way, but the satisfaction of seeing something of your own creation grown and to get recognition is indescribable. And remember, what seemed impossible before only gets easier as you keep going and growing in the process.

P.S. If you own or manage a business that charges rent and fees, learn more about how you can do that with Vagaro’s new Automatic Rent & Fees feature.