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Local hair stylists are transforming the salon industry by being their own boss

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BATON ROUGE - Traditional hair salons are not profiting like they used to, but this does not mean people are not getting their hair cut.

Stylists like Leigh Ann Town Podorsky have started leasing their own spaces and thriving.

Podorsky started leasing her own studio at Sola Salon Studios eight months ago.

“I just got to a point where I built a really loyal clientele and controlling my own hours just became a priority,” Podorsky said.

She decorates her space to match her style. Podorsky added black-and-teal vinyl flooring and her favorite paintings.

“I was super excited about it, just to have everything be something that I picked out,” Podorsky said.

Podorsky also has the luxury of picking her own hours. 

“I'm used to grinding and just working a lot of hours,” Podorsky said. “I kind of control my hours and, therefore, my income. Having my Saturdays back has just been like a whole new lifestyle.”

Many stylists are adopting this new lifestyle as well, as all studios at the Sola Baton Rouge location are booked.

“We're 100% right now, which means every studio is occupied,” said owner and president of Sola Salon Studios, Julie McNeal. “We do have a waitlist.”

The studios are also filling up all over the country.

“It's across the board nationally,” McNeal said. “Occupancy nationally was 90.7%.”

Sola’s private studios may have eased clients who were cautious about COVID-19.

“With COVID, I think what happened was people were looking for options, and they found Sola,” McNeal said.

But, the pandemic is not the only reason for this trend.

“I think it's kind of like the American spirit of entrepreneurship,” McNeal said. “You come in, and you're building your own.”

Unlike traditional salons, stylists at Sola make 100% of their profits.

“There'll be some really rock star stylists,” McNeal said. “They'll have tons of clients, and they'll get paid maybe 30% of what the haircut cost, whereas, they get the full thing here.”

Sola’s weekly rent does not seem to be a problem for stylists.

“That's just two highlights or three men's cuts,” Podorsky said. “It's usually about half-a-day's work, and I work five days a week.”

As Podorsky continues to be her own boss, she doesn’t plan to leave her spot any time soon.

“I would never rule out opening a salon in the future, but, at the moment, this is what's working for sure,” Podorsky said.

She plans to continue the American dream in her own studio with her own style.

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