Katie Rogers is an Instagram influencer (@MermaidHairXo), a cosmetologist, hairstylist and clothing designer. She’s created her own line of hair tools, extensions and eyelashes. Last year, Katie decided to add “business owner” to her impressive list of titles with the opening of her very own salon, The Mermaid Sealon, which she used Swyft Filings to incorporate.
We decided to check in with this high-energy glam queen one year after she opened to get her thoughts on social media, lessons she’s learned, and even what her daily schedule looks like (hint: it involves her adorable pup,Scuttle)!
Swyft Filings (SF): Tell us about your journey from stylist to business owner. Katie Rogers (KR): I attended Ogle cosmetology school, where I was class president, and graduated when I was 25.
After graduation, I did my apprenticeship at Studio 1514 in downtown Dallas, Texas. After only a month of being an apprentice, I was given the opportunity to work on the floor styling clients because I was constantly being booked. It was a risk because I had to pay for the chair but it was so worth it. 6 months later I was so busy that I had to get an assistant, which is almost unheard of. I was at that salon for almost 6 years before I finally took that leap of faith and opened my own salon in 2018. I named it SEAlon as a play on words because I wanted my business to highlight the fact that I invented my own Mermaid extensions and reflect the fact that it is a one-stop glam shop!
I think my development as an entrepreneur was especially impacted by the fact that I started as a stylist myself. I understand the hustle of only having one day off and being in a million places at once, which helps make me a more understanding leader.
SF: If there’s one thing you could go back and do differently when first opening the salon, what would it be? KR: I honestly wouldn’t change anything. I feel that for being a new owner our SEAlon is thriving and always popping. We have people come from all over the states just to see us and get our services done. It is quickly growing in popularity because it is so unique. If I absolutely had to change one thing I would have gotten a larger space initially to accommodate more customers.
SF: What is something that you never thought you’d do, but have found yourself taking on as a business owner? KR: Because I wanted my SEAlon to truly be a one-stop glam shop I really had to dive in and learn about all the services not just extensions. I had to learn about acrylic nails and all the products that go along for each of the services we offer that I don’t normally do. I had to learn about sanitation and business regulations. You can say I wear many hats in order to run a successful, unique, high-end business.
SF: What have you found to be the greatest challenge of business ownership? KR: A challenge would be that due to my social media presence I sometimes get used. There are people who will only want to work for me because they want to gain popularity and followers. Being able to decipher who is here for the right reasons can be tough. However, it’s incredibly important to hire people who are going to make the salon experience about the customer to keep my business thriving.
SF: How would you say social media has changed the game for entrepreneurs? KR: Social media has changed the game tremendously! We are so fortunate to be alive during this time you can promote your business for free, build your own brand and platform. I think anyone who has a business should have an Instagram page!
For example, if you are a stylist and don’t have one you are doing yourself a disservice because people are visual and need to see your work. Potential customers can also look at the number of followers and reviews to validate your work when you have a robust social media presence. It’s free marketing so use it to your advantage! It’s also important to utilize the tools each platform provides correctly. You never know, the right hashtag could catch a celebrity’s attention and put you on the map!
SF: Where do you hope to see your business go in the next five years? KR: I want to continue growing my location and double my revenue each year. If the salon grows that means it's a growth opportunity for my staff so they can also double their income. I want to open a second location as well. I used to want to open a salon in LA but, realistically, I now think I want my second location in Frisco/Plano area. I hope to start a family soon and want to be able to easily commute to both of my SEAlons without spending so much time traveling.
SF: What advice do you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs? KR: First off is take advantage of free marketing! Make sure to have a social media presence, post relevant content and have a nice aesthetic presentation. You’re going to have to be willing to do some work for free and hustle to get your name out there but don’t be afraid to invest in your craft. By the same token, be smart with your money and allocate it where you’ll have the largest ROI.
SF: What does your typical day look like? KR: I always start my day off with good morning kisses from my dog, Scuttles. I set about 4 alarms between 8am-9: 30 am in order to wake up. My morning routine is to always have my Skinny Drink creation, get ready for my day and touch base with my assistant around 11 am to go over my daily agenda. Then, I take my first appointment at 12:10 pm. I do one set of extensions every day to keep myself involved and in touch with the salon aspect of my business. I used to take 2-3 customers daily but I cut back so I could have time to interact with my staff and customers. I end my day by taking a long bath to help unwind!
SF: What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur? KR: I remain authentic and myself. I didn’t come from a lot of money so I always had to have street smarts and have always kept that hustle mentality. Even now that I am successful and have money in the bank, I work just as hard as I did when I had $200. So, while I am in a position where I don’t personally have to do hair anymore (I can just let my staff do all the work) I genuinely like working with my clients, feeling productive and remaining hands-on.
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