Becoming a bridal stylist can be one of the most profitable decisions a stylist can make. Why? The bridal industry is pretty much recession-proof: People aren’t going to stop getting married anytime soon, and they definitely aren’t going to stop spending way too much money on their wedding, either.
That means there’s always going to be a consistent cash flow coming through in the bridal industry. So how do you tap into this incredible market and become the top bridal stylist in your area?
Be sure you’re ready to step away from the chair completely
The bridal industry happens almost exclusively on weekends from March to October, possibly November. Are you willing to commit to work and travel during wedding season? Do you want to work weekends essentially until you retire? Because that’s when you’re going to make your money.
Also, think about retirement. Can you make enough doing bridal hair to support your lifestyle and save for the future? It’s not fun to think about retirement planning, but it will be less fun when you’re in your fifties or sixties without any savings.
The bridal business is won through photography
Find a local up-and-coming bridal photographer who wants to build their portfolio and is interested in partnering with you. Schedule a photo shoot of yourself first to connect with the photographer, get a feel for their work, and introduce each other to your businesses.
If the feeling is mutual, partner with them on a shoot to create portfolio images you both can use. Think beyond the final shot of the bride’s hair: Would images of you creating the style help you connect with potential brides on social media? Will the photos show up cohesively on your feed? How will they compare to your competition? Do you have the images that you need to build the business that you want?
You can be the most skilled bridal stylist on the planet, but if you don’t have phenomenal pictures, you’re out of the game. The higher quality the photo, the faster you’ll build your business.
Social media is everything
Social media is your number one marketing resource if you want to be the local stylist that everyone is talking about. Today’s brides are planning their weddings online, so you need to be posting on social media daily. I’m talking Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and especially Facebook ads.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be just hairstyle pictures. Share detail shots of the style in progress, the rings and behind-the-scenes moments, like you and your space. Give brides a sense of what it’s like to work with you.
Become a preferred vendor
Preferred vendor lists might be old-school, but it still works! I remember when I worked at an event venue selling six-figure weddings, the very first thing we would send them was a welcome package with our preferred vendor list. Out-of-town brides planning weddings rely heavily on these lists because they trust the event properties, so getting on these lists is gold.
Once you have beautiful photos and amazing social media, start reaching out to hotels, wedding venues, and restaurants. Introduce yourself as a local bridal stylist and ask what the process is to get on their preferred vendor list. Some places interview annually, others take referrals. You’ll be surprised at how these properties find their vendors, so don’t be afraid to throw your hat into the ring.
Create rock-solid contracts and packages
Having contracts and packages is essential, especially if you’re going all-in on bridal. Sit down to figure out exactly what packages you’re going to offer instead on a case-by-case basis.
For instance, does every bride need a trial? Is that charge separate from her wedding day package, or will you have a package that offers the trial plus the day-of hair and travel? Or, will the cost of the trial be deducted from her final price if she decides to book with you? There are so many ways to slice it up.
Once you decide on your packages, set up your contracts in a way that best support you. List how everything will work: deposit due dates, the trial date, price lists (including wedding party styles), travel fees, flights and hotels, and the date of final payment. Have all the details in writing so you and your bride aren’t dealing with them on the day of the wedding.
Create a thank you gift system and referral program
In the bridal business, word of mouth is huge. If somebody is getting married, there’s a chance in the next two years, she’s going to meet at least ten other brides. Wouldn’t it be amazing if your name was front of mind when someone asks her for a referral?
Stay top of mind by sending an amazing thank-you gift to the bride after the wedding. If you’ve partnered with the wedding photographer, ask them to send you a few wedding photos so you can make a customized photo card, thanking them for allowing you to be part of their big day. It might cost you two to six dollars, but that’s pennies on the dollar when it comes to your business.
Your referral program will be a little different than the traditional ones since your brides are likely not coming to see you for a regular cut and color. Maybe for every referral, you sent the bride a $50 gift card to a store of their choice? Think of something to incentivize and reward your brides for every time they sent you a referral.
Hire a team
If you’re going to grow as a long-term bridal stylist, it can’t be just you. You’ve got to hire a team. It’s the only way to maintain longevity in the bridal industry.
You could work as a bridal stylist for twenty years, then retire. Or you could train assistant stylists and offer them as lower cost alternatives for wedding party styling. Eventually, you build them up as employees so, as your client base grows, your bridal team can take clients and help grow your business.
Ultimately you can be the facilitator, helping bridal stylists to build beautiful careers for themselves while you market your business and educate other stylists. And, when you’re ready to retire, your team can take over that successful business for you.
I hope this has given you a lot of insight into how to build as a bridal stylist. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there; I know a lot of bridal stylists feel that their lack of experience holds them back, but it doesn’t have to.
Follow me on Facebook
Follow me on Instagram
Follow me on YouTube