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Conversations with the Inspiring Briana Altomare

Today we’d like to introduce you to Briana Altomare.

Briana, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve always been a creative person and love expressing my art. Whether it be sewing costumes, crafting, special effects makeup or beauty related. I was about to graduate from high school and had started cutting and coloring my friend’s hair, having no clue what I was doing. It actually turned out pretty decent! Well, my friends started telling their friends and well… we know how that goes. So, I withdrew my college application to be an accountant/CPA and decided to follow my heart to actually pursue this career avenue. It took some convincing of my dad to finally agree to fund my decision for school but finally it happened. I graduated and have been in the industry since 2004.

I worked at a commission salon in Virginia (where I lived at the time) for quite a few years building my clientele and continuing education. I became the color trainer for all of our apprentices and really enjoyed teaching while working. In 2010, I won “Hairstylist of the Year” at the Virginia Fashion Awards. Shortly after that, I moved to Colorado and had to start all over again… So I found another commission salon and stayed there for about three and a half years before I made the decision to go off on my own and become a booth renter. When I had first graduated, I had set a goal in mind that in 10 years, I would have my own salon or work for myself. So almost right at my ten-year mark, I left the commission salon I had been working at and took the scary step to be my own boss and run my own business how I wanted to.

There was a lot of trial and error, but I like to call that “failing forward”. I’ve grown and learned so much over the last six years of being on my own and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I now work out of a large salon studio and rent space for a hair station and a private room. Last year I decided to grow and expand my services, so I took a permanent makeup course, lash lift and tint course and eyelash extension course. With an already built clientele, it makes offering new services easier. Especially since one day, I’d like to be a “one-stop-shop” as they say. One day, I plan on having my own salon and continue to work hard towards my goals. Sky is the limit when you have a passion for your craft.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not always been a smooth road. I think most people who are just starting their journey need to keep in mind that we all have to start at the bottom of the totem pole per say. With all the social media these days, we see the “glamorization” of being a hairstylist and how amazing it is. Yes, it is amazing, but with that comes a lot of long hours and hard work. You’ve got to have tough skin and a passion. When you first start out, you’ve got to work weekends and work the shifts that are given to move up eventually to a better schedule. You’ve got to sit there and wait for clients to walk in or be given to you. Even if you’re not busy, you sit and wait. When you go out on your own, you’ve got to keep that hustle in mind. Always remember to keep bringing new clientele through that door because you’re always going to have people trickle off throughout the years. And for the love of god, ALWAYS pay your taxes and never get behind. That happened to me my first year going independent and I had to owe a big lump sum at the end of the year and it hurt me pretty bad financially! Get an accountant, its worth it not to have to stress.

what should we know about Salon Breezy? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I’ve always tended to gravitate towards the edgy colorful looks. But I feel it’s important to be well-rounded so I’ve spent time trying to master as much as I can. I’m really big into “dry-cutting”, about 80% of my cuts are done dry. Texturizing is another very important element that takes time to acquire the skill. I get a lot of clients with difficult hair to manage and they all say the same thing, “No one else knows how to do my hair like you do”. I think that upping your cutting game can really start to set you apart from others and make a brand for yourself. Creative coloring is another important aspect. Color is forever changing and so are techniques. It’s important to learn these new trends, techniques and color lines to give you an edge in the industry. I’m definitely not afraid to experiment on my clients that are willing. They get excited to try something new and so do I.

Another thing I pride myself on is my ability to listen. My clients all say one of the reasons they like coming to see me is that I actually listen to what they want. You have to be like a detective sometimes, but making clear what “expectations vs. reality” are is so important. I have also jumped into the bridal business recently and love creating updos for brides and their party. Tousled, textured long looks are my favorite and tend to be a strong point for me. Also, makeup of any sort, whether it be a photoshoot, bride or Halloween. I have been known as “The Queen of Halloween” for my all-out makeup looks and love for Halloween.

It would be great to hear about any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve used and would recommend to others.
I don’t have anything that is my specific go to. I’ve used YouTube to look at tutorials before, Pinterest to get ideas and inspiration from and Instagram to look up pictures, but mainly it’s having an imagination. I could sit for hours thinking about the geometry of the head and how to place colors to achieve different effects. I’ve drawn out diagrams so I can get it out on paper, then translated that to a mannequin head to see how it looks in real life. Behind the chair has a great website for the beauty industry with lots of topics and resources as well.

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Image Credit:
Profile Image by Kari Joy Photography @karijoykuschel

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