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  • Writer's pictureEmmi

Inspiration versus Imitation

I love my industry. I consider all of us artists, and there is nothing I appreciate more than watching the community absolutely crush it in their careers. There are so many avenues we could pursue, and I really feel our potential for growth is limitless. I find inspiration in so many ways, day to day. I constantly am inspired by stylists and salons near and far –and I think it is so special that we have this ability to inspire one another, be that aesthetically, professionally, even personally. There is nothing more flattering to me than inspiring other artists; however, in the age of influence, at what point does this inspiration become imitation?

As a small business owner, I work tirelessly to create a specific atmosphere and product that I feel is lacking in the community that I love. This work will never end for me and is ever changing, which is part of what I love about being a salon owner. Despite the fluid nature of the industry and this pressure I put on myself to stand out, there has always been a strong rooted mission to deliver more than just good hair. I wanted to create an entire experience.

When it came to curating my personal brand and the salon, I always operated as a one woman show. I made my logos, I built my websites. I did my own interior designing, I workshopped my own professional verbiage and content, and I footed my own bill throughout the entire process. I worked really hard to make sure when you saw someone walking down the streets in town, you could recognize my work on their head. With all of that being said, I in no way look down on anyone that had help along the way with any of these facets of their business. I am neurotic to a fault, and I started conceptualizing The Chain when I was barely 27. I was hustling to build a clientele and make a name for myself behind the chair at the same time, so the funds were not exactly there for a consultant, to be frank. Let me get to my point…

I find it so disheartening when many other new businesses promote themselves and their business under the exact same branding that others have already spent years building. An aesthetic ripoff is just annoying –give me ten minutes to roll my eyes and run my mouth, and then I could kind of care less. My husband’s little brother’s ex girlfriend (follow along) got the same tattoos as me in the same locations, I’m numb to it; however, it is the blatant copy and pasting I have seen of my own words that I find actually infuriating. To take something niche and make it the norm is just bad business for everyone –not to mention an intellectual property nightmare. I remember feeling internal rage when a major platform completely copied the work of one of my favorite small businesses (s/o to TGTDYH, we know you did it first)

We should be working to set ourselves apart… not creating copy and pasted versions of other salons or stylists. They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but in a field entirely based upon artistic abilities and aesthetic, it is hard to feel flattered when you see a sea of new versions of something you worked so hard on.

This industry is tough, and I have been dragged many times. I don’t write this to antagonize or call anyone out specifically, but rather to spread a really basic message: be yourself –especially in an industry of creatives. This field is already so saturated with exceptional talents, even at the local level. In fact, one of my first months in business, as I juggled trying to find the right group of stylists to rent alongside me and the crippling startup expenses of a brand new hair salon, a local magazine interviewed me and several others about how there are too many hair salons in town…

If you don’t laugh, you will seriously cry.

There is so much hair to go around. I love to cheer other stylists and business owners on, and we should all be helping each other soar…not diluting the market with more of the same.

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