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Life and Work with Jamie Nelson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jamie Nelson.

Jamie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Women everywhere are still trying to figure out “how to have it all.” I’m no different. Here was my dilemma: How could I feed my desire to own my own business, maintain a work/life balance, be a present and available mother and wife and continue to work on my passion as a hairdresser?

I’ve always been a girl who knows what she wants and goes for it. It’s almost to a fault because I don’t stop to think before I jump. Graduating from beauty school, I knew I wanted to work at a salon on Pearl Street. That is where I envisioned myself and a few short years later, that is where I ended up. I was blessed to work for three of the most amazing mentors around. They were all stylists, they were all women and they were all just who I wanted to be in the industry. The salon culture was based around leadership and life-happiness. Instead of having product reps come into the salon to teach us how to sell more product, they had leadership coaches come in to teach us how to be happier. This created a better work environment – and what I noticed – higher sales and a more team-based environment (which you don’t always see in salons). I quickly saw what was happening and I jumped all over it. I invested my own time and money to work individually with the leadership coach. At the time, I thought I was simply preparing myself to be a manager one day. Little did I know, this self-development would put me on the path that led me to do other great things in my life.

Being a stylist in commission-based salons led me to want to do something different. I had maxed out at my dream salon, and I had added being an educator for an international production company to my plate. Yet I still found myself getting bored. I needed the next step. It was time to open my own salon. The first rule in business is to be able to give people what they want. You have to fix a problem for them. I wanted to fix the problem for hairdressers. Hairdressers are constantly leaving salons and starting over. Why? They get bored, there is no more potential to grow, they decide hairdressing is not a career or they lose their passion for hairdressing because they burn out. I wanted to do something different. So, I asked myself, what could be done that hasn’t been done before and give experienced hairdressers a chance to feel enlightened again? Instead of an answer, I got a question: “What do I like best about hairdressing?” The answer is: “People”: The connection I feel with others. The power of touching their hair and becoming a part of each other’s lives. The ability to mentor other stylists and help them see things in themselves that they are afraid to see. But let’s not forget the one thing that also keeps people going: the money. This led to other questions: How can I use my skills as a hairdresser to connect with my clients on a deeper level? How can I use my leadership to mentor other like-minded stylists? How can I make hairdressing a career, instead of a job, for so many who have a passion for it? So, I created a mobile hair salon to bring something different to the beauty industry and as a way to train and mentor other stylists and honor their creativity.

The Ember Hairstream is a renovated 1977 vintage Airstream. Large enough to accommodate bridal parties and give a luxury salon experience wherever we may be, throughout Colorado. We do everything from off the grid mountain weddings to 5-star wedding venues. The Ember Hairstream was so well received within the wedding and salon industries, one short year later, I also opened my own salon in Downtown Boulder. My desire to mentor hairstylists into turning their passion into a career and live the ultimate work-life balance while creating their dream clientele had come true. You can truly feel the love my team members have for their jobs when you walk into the salon. Ember Beauty and Barbering in Boulder specializes in balayage color, hair extensions, and weddings. We believe in continued education in the salon industry, as well as self-development and leadership courses for personal and professional growth.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
From the outside, achieving my dream looked like it happened effortlessly. Everything happened pretty quick and looked like a smooth easy road. I started talking about my dream just four years ago, and while everything truly did fall into line quickly, that “overnight success” was the result of a lot of internal work.

The leadership training I took for two years before I started building my dream helped me dive deep into self-awareness, exploring limiting beliefs and the excuses we place on ourselves. I learned to recognize where my limiting beliefs and self-doubt came from. I mostly learned how to sit quietly and let the answers come to me. Something so simple can have a great impact on our lives. I look back now, and like anyone, our struggles always came from within and where we limited ourselves from experiencing what we desired.

To start my journey building a mobile salon, I had to deal with questions and challenges from others. There was a lot of doubt, sometimes from the people closest to me. I felt I had to explain myself and defend what I was doing, even though I didn’t really know what I was doing. I knew I was creating something that would “find its place in the salon industry” but I wasn’t really clear on what that was. There were a lot of sacrifices. Financial sacrifices. Time sacrifices and relationship sacrifice, too. My husband and I invested every dollar we had originally saved to buy a house – putting it into this dream instead. We lived in his parents’ basement. I worked part-time at Twig Salon in Boulder (they were very supportive of me exploring my dream). We had a toddler and were pregnant again. We renovated the Airstream in Steamboat Springs, so I took day trips there most weeks, to physically work on the Airstream renovation. My husband used all his time off to also work on it. Like any big project, obstacles came up. Yet every obstacle brought me to a place of silence. I had to trust that I knew the answers and that what I was doing was going to make a difference.

Please tell us about Ember Hairstream and Ember Salon.
We are the only fully operating mobile salon in Colorado specializing in Weddings. In fact, I think we are the only one nationwide specializing in weddings! All our Ember Hairstream team members also work at high-end salons in the Denver/Boulder area. When they work on our team, they enjoy having a creative outlet and being part of a close-knit group that enjoys what they do and who they work with.

We are also one of the only on-location hair and make-up teams that specializes in large parties. We are an incredibly fun group of women who really know how to set the tone for the day. I encourage leadership and self-growth for my team because we come across many different people and many different walks of life – and these training have helped us become highly skilled in dealing with all personalities, stressors, and conflicts. I’ve worked in the wedding industry long enough to know the family dynamics we might come across, and how to deal with in a positive way. I truly believe when you hire my team, we not only make everyone look their best, we also make them feel their best. Each and every person.

Everyone who works on our wedding team is experienced stylist their own right, in salons across the Denver/Boulder. They are people who care about growth, passion and helping others see the amazing things in themselves. I am proud to say that I have found the “thrivers” in the hair industry and have created a fun outlet for them with so much opportunity to grow. There is a lot of work involved, but as my husband always says, it does not really work, “as long as you’re having fun.” And that’s just the support we all need: To remember to have fun.

Were there people and/or experiences you had in your childhood that you feel laid the foundation for your success?
Absolutely! Growing up in a single-family home was seen as the “hero” in my sibling group. This actually benefited me and gave me the strength to believe I could do anything that I wanted. I really excelled in school and was usually seen as the leader in any of my peer groups.

I was taught early on to take responsibility for the things I wanted in life. I was never coddled as a child. My mother worked full-time and went back to school to make a good life for us. I never considered I couldn’t have anything I wanted. I just always knew if I wanted something, it was up to me to go out there and get it. I saw how my Mother did things and that is later what I mimicked. Hard work with a good heart and a family to go home to.

Pricing:

  • Bridal Hair and Make-up on-location is $450 (includes airbrush, false lashes and styling with your own extensions if desired)
  • Airstream Salon On-location is free with a min of $1650 of hair, make-up or barbering services in Denver/Boulder/Lyons area.
  • Package pricing for additional attendees is $195 for hair and make-up (includes airbrush and false lashes)
  • Groomsmen barbering starts at $75

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Coryn Nelson Photography, Rhema Faith Photography, Christina Kiffney Photography

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