Paige Garland, owner of Rachel’s Salon & Day Spa, knows what it means for a career to come full circle. As a longtime beauty product distributor, she spent years servicing a salon she eventually purchased as her own. Paige admits it’s been “quite the journey” to become an entrepreneur. In fact, it was never in the plans. Her story is full of transitions and pivots, as she found her way from beauty distributor to salon owner. Considering herself a “unique” salon owner because she doesn’t actually do hair, Paige’s love for the beauty industry motivated her to purchase the salon from her then client, Rachel Hill, in 2014. Meet Paige Garland, our newest FACE of Memphis.
What prompted you to become an entrepreneur in the beauty industry?
I’d been on the business side of the industry for a long time, working for a company that was an exclusive distributor for Aveda products. I worked with the company for a long time but retired to stay home and raise my kids. I went through a life transition and had to go back to work to provide for my kids as a single mom. By God’s grace, I was able to walk back into the same position I left 13 years prior.
I soon formed a relationship with one of our clients who was looking to sell her salon, Rachel Hill, the former owner of Rachel’s Salon. During this time, I got remarried and told my husband I couldn’t shake the feeling of owning Rachel’s, and he encouraged me to do it. We went to Rachel and purchased the business soon after.
You purchased a reputable business — one that had been around since 1987. How was that helpful or harmful in your entrepreneurial journey?
For most people, I’m not sure if it would have worked, but Rachel and I had a trusting relationship. It was like a perfect marriage. She agreed to stay on as a master stylist for two years minimum while I ran the business and learned what I didn’t know, which I found out was a whole lot. Per her agreement, she was committing to two years, but she’s still here, and it’s been six years. It works for us. I respect her, and she respects me. It really is a beautiful story about two women business owners who were able to hand off what was once one woman’s vision, which is now both of ours — and it’s my job to keep that alive.
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You mentioned there was a lot you didn’t know when becoming a business owner. What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way?
I’ve learned some hard ones and some great ones. Mostly, I’ve learned I’m always going to be learning, and that motivates me. I have learned I will not be able to make everyone happy, and we are not always a fit for everyone, nor are they always a fit for us. I have definitely learned sacrificing who I am and what my core values are will not further my growth, and to trust my gut because I have had some amazing mentors along the way help me to develop that instinct.
What do you love most about your job?
I love the people, especially my team. I love that moment when — especially with our younger team — I get to see one of them light up because they “get it” and have mastered something that once challenged them. It reignites me to see their growth.
More than that, I love the relationships. I love that our industry has a unique opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. It’s an industry that can be, at times, very superficial when we are focused only on the trends and the outward part of the industry. While I love that part, what I love more is seeing a total transformation in a guest and the joy they have when they feel as beautiful as we see them.
Right now, because of COVID, we are starved for human connection. For socialization. For touch … anyone else missing hugs? As difficult as it is to be in this industry right now, knowing we cannot do what we do with any true social distance, we have a unique opportunity to fill a void with people right now as well. We may not be able to hug you, but we can offer you a relaxing experience with an amazing massage during your shampoo experience and some socialization outside of your home in a safe and sanitized environment.
How has your business been impacted directly?
In June — due to closing because of COVID — our service revenue was down 90% from the last year. I was terrified; I am in an industry where people matter first. When we were closed for the first time due to local mandates, I sat down with my people and went through the furlough process. Then I spoke to our guests and let them know we would be closing for a while.
Reopening has been even more terrifying because I have a staff to look out for and care for — and customers as well. I had to do things to make sure my staff and customers are okay. It’s scary to know sometimes you are responsible for someone’s well-being and financial well-being. Everything we do is different now.
We are a luxury salon that offers a high-end guest experience, and we can’t give some of those services anymore, so we had to pivot to make safety our new luxury. We took the safety precautions we’d already been doing and have now had to ramp them up a lot. Safety is a non-negotiable for me.
What’s next for Rachel’s Salon? Is there anything you’re looking forward to despite having to pivot?
My daughter will be going to cosmetology school after the first of the year! This is a big piece of my “why” coming full circle. I am hoping she will spend more and more time with me as she grows in this industry, but that path is hers to find. She may decide we are not a fit for her; time will tell!
Your salon is in the heart of downtown. What do you love most about downtown Memphis?
Downtown has a rhythm. The people and places all seem to fuse together to create this unusual and beautiful thing that almost breathes. After six years of being downtown every day, I still love just driving or walking through the neighborhood and looking at the details.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
You can do anything if you set your mind and heart to it — my father sold that one so well I actually believed him! Any and all advice circles back to two words: “be willing.” And “surround yourself with people who know more than you.”
Besides faith, family and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
My skincare, lip gloss — both Aveda, of course — and a great pair of shoes. When black clothing is your uniform, shoes are sometimes all you’ve got!
Thank you, Paige, and thanks to Lori Butler for the photos.