Holiday Survival Tips

holiday survival tips graphic

How do you cope during the holiday season as a beauty pro? The increased demands on us can be stressful as we try to accommodate all of our clients and the requests from new ones. To prepare in advance, we offer tips to manage client expectations, control our schedules, and minimize the disruptions to our lives.

Show Notes


What You Need to Know to Sell Gift Cards

What We Are All Feeing: Processing 2020


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Edited for length and clarity.

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ASHLEY: Welcome to Outgrowth: A Slice of Pro Beauty with your hosts Ashley Gregory Hackett. 

JAIME: And Jaime Schrabeck. As we enter the holiday season, beauty professionals can feel a sense of excitement when demand for our services increases.

ASHLEY: That same demand can also create anxiety about how we’ll manage our time and priorities, so we need strategies to survive the holidays. Let’s grow together. 

JAIME: Ashley, it’s November already.

ASHLEY: I don’t believe it. I refuse to accept it. I feel like the holidays are a time that just happens to me. 

JAIME: It’s like you’re a victim of the calendar and the weeks just roll by, and unless you have something special planned, the weeks just run together and before you know it, it’s the end of the year.

ASHLEY: It’s a hard time of year for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. I harken back to my time in retail management when I would get to the store when it was dark, and leave the store when it was dark, and the extra hours, the long hours, the huge crowds. When it comes to the salon, thankfully it’s a little bit more cheerful, but we know clients are stressed. Sometimes that stress can translate to us and it just becomes a time we need to get through. So we thought it would be great to discuss some of our favorite holiday survival strategies when it comes to being in the beauty business to make sure that we take care of ourselves first. 

JAIME: Can we first agree that holiday brain is real?

ASHLEY: Yes, it is real. There’s so many things to remember, especially when it comes to scheduling that we have to be on top of it. 

JAIME: That’s why I like to book my appointments when we reserve them at the beginning of the year, we reserve them regardless of where the holidays land, and then as the holidays approach, and we recognize that clients are scheduled on those days, particularly a day like Thanksgiving, when we’d be working, we make sure that we take care of those clients first and block out that time, because that’s a time that I like to protect. And I think it’s important that you make your own holiday plans first and not worry so much about your clients’ plans.

ASHLEY: I agree. Take care of number one first, and then, it’s it’s hard to, as an empath or a creative, to not take on board some of that stress that our clients are experiencing because their plans may change last minute. Whatever it is that they’ve got going on, try not to let that affect your stress level or your serenity throughout the holiday season, because if you know, you’ve got your time blocked off, and you’re taking care of as far as what you need to do for your home and family, and in order to enjoy the holidays, then the chaos can rain around you and you can have the dominoes fall as they may with those other days.

JAIME: And some of us have a lot planned for the holidays and others like myself don’t, and that’s by choice, and I feel fortunate that I have that option and I know others feel obligated to visit or travel. I don’t need to travel. I think that’s one of the things that I like most about the holidays for me is I don’t have to go anywhere.

ASHLEY: Yeah. You know, having put in so many years in retail, the holidays are a fun luxury for me now cause I was always working. I always missed Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving. I always missed Christmas Eve just by the nature of the work I was doing. What’s great about the beauty industry is that we’re able to, for the most part, set our hours around this time of year. I know there’s salons that just completely closed between Christmas and New Year’s, or close early, or, you know, do kind of the equivalent of summer Fridaysm and I think that that’s amazing. If you’re a salon owner that can deal with the hustle and bustle of this time by giving your employees the ability to have a shortened schedule, even though the time is really in demand, I think if we can kind of protect our own mental health and experience a little bit of self care. That’s like my number one priority for the holidays is self-care, relaxing, taking time to be with family and friends and just enjoy. 

JAIME: We have existing clients, and when it comes to the holiday season, I know salon owners might think this is a time to attract a bunch of new clients, offer specials, offer gift cards to try to generate more revenue and rather than do that, because I think that can be a lot of pressure to apply to yourself and your business at this time of year, I would rather focus on my existing clients and if there’s space and time leftover for new ones, then that’s a bonus, but it’s certainly not my first priority.

ASHLEY: Yeah, your schedule can only be so full. You know, you can only book as many people as you can book. You’d much rather, I’m assuming, have existing clients get those all too important, holiday adjacent appointments before you would try to market to new potential clients. I kind of go back to the strategy of knowing that there’s a finite amount of appointments and so filling those is important, but I think if you keep beating the drum of I have six appointments left. I have five appointments left that your existing clientele will kind of catch on and go, oh, okay. Yeah, I’m going to need to do this before you start running things like, God forbid, a Groupon, or trying to cast a wide net and just bring in anyone. You know your existing clients know your pricing. You know that they know your procedures and they’re going to be the best kind of client to have around this stressful time. 

JAIME: Certainly the most understanding. No matter how well you schedule, no matter how quickly you work or how efficiently, there’s traffic. There are other things that pop up that make even the most reliable client late, perhaps, or a bit more frazzled than normal. And here it’s supposed to be this joyous time of year. Oh, well. Ashley, you had mentioned as one of your survival tips, I noted in our notes, this idea of making sure that we break up our day when we’re at the salon.

ASHLEY: Yeah. I mean, we’re really terrible as an industry at giving ourselves breaks and to me, I don’t think that an extra $50, or whatever it might be, is worth not having a lunch break or even if you’re not going to eat lunch, just have some time to decompress where nobody’s talking to you. You’re not listening to loud music. You don’t have to keep time with somebody’s service processing, whatever that it looks like for you. I think it’s really important to schedule some short breaks into your day, especially during the holiday season, and just give yourself some time to breathe and reset. We are givers. Because we are creative people, we are touching our client’s lives by literally touching their bodies. It can feel like we need to give of ourselves to the point of exhaustion or that until we can’t give any more, and that doesn’t help anybody because then you spend your holiday time asleep, you know, with your feet in a foot bath, trying to put yourself back together. If you could, schedule 15 minutes twice a day where you do nothing. You just go into the back room or you close your suite door, and you turn off the lights, and just let yourself decompress. That to me was one of my most treasured coping strategies when it came to holiday retail and just turning my brain off for a second, allowing myself to relax, and it made the rest of the time so much better. 

JAIME: You’d be entitled to those breaks as an employee, although I know employees tend not to get them particularly during the holidays, whether they’re required to have them or not. But when we work alone, it’s, it’s that much harder to give up time we feel we should be spending with clients.

ASHLEY: I mean especially if clients show up early. I feel like that was always the most pressure was when a client would show up early and kind of stare me down while I’m turning my station over, or while I’m, you know, cleaning the wine glasses from the last client. I really tried hard not to give into that pressure of starting the appointment early just because they happened to be early. For me, it was, I need that, like even if it’s three minutes of being able to go use the restroom, and take a sip of water, and then be present for them. As a client, I would much rather have a beauty service provider in the right frame of mind to complete the service and have it happen on time, as opposed to me showing up early, expecting it to happen early, and then like frazzling them. So I know it’s, it can be tough especially in a solo situation to say like, you need to wait outside. But I feel like maybe if we empowered ourselves to do that more often, we would feel a little bit less disdain for those clients who showed up really, really early and then give you the stink-eye the whole time. I don’t know, Jaime, what would your solution be to somebody showing up super early and wanting to start early?

JAIME: Because we have a magnetic door lock, they can’t just walk into the salon. So when we greet them at the door, once they ring the doorbell, we could turn them away at that point and say, we’re not quite ready for you yet. If you want to run a quick errand, we’ll be ready on time and that just gives them a heads up. Fortunately, for us, there are shops conveniently located immediately across the street. There’s a coffee shop. There’s retail. They could go spend their money, whatever it takes, but you’re right. If they do come in, it also makes the client who’s there in your chair, or at your station, feel as if somehow you’re running over or something, which that’s not the case. And then you shouldn’t really have to explain one client situation to another. That’s like nobody’s business. So I would rather just gently turn the client away to delay them just a bit.

ASHLEY: Yeah. That’s hard too, especially when you have a client in your chair and the new one shows up. For me, having worked in a small salon space, it was difficult because they were right there. You know, my waiting chair was like right behind my client chair and I didn’t want my current client to feel like I was rushing through. I wanted to put the correct bow on the end of their service, and make sure that we rebooked, and they took home any retail they wanted to take home. And so I would prefer a client obviously show up early rather than late, but still not too early cause that comes with its own set of challenges. But I love something I’m seeing in the notes here from you is that being busy is not a problem, and how we view that and how we think clients view that is definitely up for discussion.

JAIME: I tell people never to apologize for being busy. If you don’t have time available upon request, that’s okay. The client either finds another time or makes other arrangements. But if we are to negotiate times, or feel the pressure to expand our schedule, or give up time that we had carved out for our families to accommodate more clients, that’s not going to help us enjoy our holidays at all.

ASHLEY: Yeah, that’s tough. A lot of this is just pressure that either we’re allowing clients to put on us or we’re putting on ourselves. And so I think in those heated moments, if we can just take a breath and take a step back and go, okay, is this something that is pressure that’s real? Or is it because I feel the pressure to be perfect, be on time, be like almost have like an octopus and have all these arms doing all these different things and multitask? Like if we were to give ourselves a little bit of grace, when it came to the holiday season, I mean, our clients sure give themselves a lot of latitude when it comes to their appointments, and their social calendars, and they. I mean I think you hit the nail on the head when you said this is supposed to be a joyous time. It’s supposed to be the best time of the year. And I think a lot of us dread this time of year only because it’s so fraught and our schedules become so full. And if we can be proactive in how we abate that going into the season. Like I think about things like, just making sure I have comfortable shoes to wear that aren’t going to, you know, they don’t have a little nail poking me in the bottom of my boot, or that I have the ability to control the temperature of my space so I’m not freezing or sweating because the heat is on. I think that all kind of comes back to just taking those small breaks and just being aware of this is only temporary. It’s not going to last forever. But if you can arm yourself with all of those different tools so that way you can really just make the most of it and not have to worry about one snarky, crabby client ruining it forever.

JAIME: I get very snarky and crabby if I’m working in a disorganized environment. And knowing how busy the holiday time is, I know many people would say, you know, I don’t have time to get organized. I don’t have time to declutter. But I will tell you as a survival strategy, taking the time to get rid of clutter, to organize your space, to rearrange furniture, whatever it is that you need to do actually makes me feel more in control and helps me power through the holidays. And then I feel like I’m months ahead of everybody else who’s waiting until after the holidays to buy plastic containers, and to make donations to charities, and all the other things that they do to do their after the end of the year.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I think it’s important that your space is as uncluttered as possible. And that’s one of the first things that goes, you know. It’s like, we almost feel like if our client does show up early, or if we feel like we’re double and triple booked, all of those things that are important to do between clients, and as we set up, and take down for the day. We know we’re tired. We don’t want to do those things. And so that’s one of the first things that goes, and then all of a sudden it piles up, and you’re thinking, I am never going to unbury myself from this. But something that I used to do back in my retail time, which I know I speak about a lot, but it scarred me, Jaime, is I used to create like a little manager’s oasis in the basement of the store near our old HR department and it would be low light, soothing music, not holiday music. And I had like a little, little plug-in water fountain, water-feature going, and had coloring books out for the other managers, and it was like just a place where we would take our breaks, and it allowed you to just turn your brain off. And so if you can’t schedule the short breaks into your day, make sure that you have a space where you can decompress, and don’t feel pressure to blast holiday music, and if you make your space a bit of an oasis, I think our clients would really appreciate that as well.

JAIME: Your mention of holiday music makes me ask, and I know this is a loaded question that you worked in retail and where you worked, to decorate for the holidays and play holiday music in the salon or not?

ASHLEY: I mean, it’s all our individual choice. If, if it helps you get into the season and experience the season cause a lot of us aren’t leaving our salons very much because we are so busy, I say go for it. But the other part of it is, think about what your clients are experiencing everywhere else they go. And a lot of places started holiday music like they’ll start at November 1st, or I mean, I remember one year we started it September 15th and people were livid, which I don’t blame them for. Knowing the words to every single holiday song ever written, I have an aversion to holiday music. I will listen to it like Christmas Eve and that’s it. So why not kind of buck the trend, and just be the space where people can decompress, and relax, and enjoy their service without feeling that externalized pressure to sing Mariah Carey at the top of their lungs. 

JAIME: I used to spend my time decorating for the holidays and it’s not something that I’m just naturally gifted at, but I would pull it off, but any more, I don’t, nor do we play holiday music. It’s just an oasis of the salon itself as if it were not even happening.

ASHLEY: Nice. I like it. I mean I’m not going to begrudge anybody wanting to decorate their space or to make the season cheery and reflective in, in their spaces. But boy, I think if we could just keep it relaxing, keep it a place that you want to be no matter the time of year, I think clients would really appreciate that. But lots of different options, right? Not all of these are going to work for everybody, and I don’t think everybody should adopt every one of these tips, but if there’s something in here that you found useful, I would love for you to let us know, as well as sharing your top tips for surviving the holidays in the salon. Please feel free to let us know on our Instagram at @outgrowthpodcast. And that’s where we connect with you to discuss recent episodes, hot topics. All of the conversation is happening over on Instagram.

JAIME: If you’re enjoying Outgrowth, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. With one click, you can just visit

ASHLEY: All right. Well, here’s to surviving the holidays. 

JAIME: We never even mentioned alcohol.

ASHLEY: We’re going to leave that for another episode. All right, everybody until next week, be smart. 

JAIME: Be safe. 



Described as the best beauty podcast in 2021, Outgrowth Podcast is for hairstylists, nail techs, estheticians, massage therapists and lash technicians. Hosted by beauty industry experts Ashley Gregory Hackett and Jaime Schrabeck, PhD, this salon industry podcast has helpful  interviews with guests that teach topics from increasing salon clientele, salon marketing, covid guidelines, beauty industry insights, starting a salon, renting a salon suite, salon Instagram tips, and how to run a successful salon. Join us for weekly episodes of hair podcasts, nail podcasts, esty podcast, and more.

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