Close-up of Michelle Koegan of Hair by MK

How to stand out in a crowded industry

4 min read
Kelsey Pfeffer

Michelle Koeghan is one of those people who bubbles with enthusiasm for what she does. Within a couple minutes of meeting her, you have a sense for how passionate she is about her work as an entrepreneur in the beauty industry. If her stylish haircut doesn’t immediately give it away, her willingness to reach over and tame a flyaway lock by twisting it carefully into place will. It just goes to show that Michelle is committed to her craft of making people look their best.

A hair extraordinaire with more than 15 years’ experience, Michelle owns Hair By Michelle and works out of Boujis salon in Scottsdale, Arizona. She’s an independent contractor who’s in charge of her own marketing efforts. Michelle is building her personal brand with hopes of owning a salon one day.

Building Your Personal Brand

Michelle is a true go-getter; she doesn’t rely on foot traffic to meet new customers. She has a website, newsletter, social media presence and is constantly looking for other opportunities to grow her small business.

Michelle recently attended Get Big Game Ready, an event that featured expert help from GoDaddy, PayPal and Yelp to help small businesses get ready for the tourism influx that’s about to hit the Phoenix area for the Super Bowl. She walked away from the event learning her website needs a clear mission statement, list of services with prices, and lots of photos.

We asked Michelle to share what she’s learned as a successful solopreneur with big dreams. Here’s what she has to say.

What makes you unique in your industry?

“I'm always focused on my clients. I literally want them to love their hair. That's why I keep up and learn the latest trends. I really think styling hair is an art form and most of that art form is capturing the image someone has of themselves. I think I'm unique because I've been fortunate enough to train in London, Milan and New York.”

How do you promote your brand?

“I'm an independent contractor … I have to take the initiative to create a website and use social media to promote myself. It could be as simple as "Here are a few of my favorite products." What I've learned through having my own brand is that it's a lot of extra work, but my clients are getting to know my style and I am inspired by what clients are responding to. I appreciate being able to communicate with my clients in that way.”

What three tools help you find new clients?

How to Promote Your Brand

1. Word of Mouth. “Word of mouth is still as important as ever."

2. Yelp. “My positive reviews on Yelp (under Boujis Salon) have been a powerful tool. They have brought me several new clients.”

3. GoDaddy website linked in her newsletter. “I’m also adding my website address to my business cards and plan on linking it to Pinterest and Facebook.”

Do you need to be ‘tech-savvy’ to maintain a website?

“I don’t spend much time on my website. I'm not very skilled at setting up or maintaining it. I actually prefer to let my dear friend Kira handle my website and my newsletter … Some things should be left to the experts! What takes her an hour would take me a week.”

How do you know when to ask for help?

“When my schedule is 85-percent full, it's time to get an assistant. My assistant will schedule appointments, take payments, make drinks, help with retail and clean my station and color bowls. This allows me to just focus on hair without rushing. One of my goals is to be 85-percent full all year and have an assistant every day. I'm working toward this by building my online presence.”

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

“My work/life balance is kept under control by working four days a week; two of those are 12-hour days. It's better for me to work longer hours and spend an extra day with my two kids … and one more on the way -- we're adopting from Ethiopia! I also put my phone and computer away until my kids go to bed, at least on the weekends. It's a struggle to not check email and my website. I try to respond to clients during work hours.”