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Sola Spotlight: Amber Lee image

“I started out in school doing international business, and I hated it,” says Amber Lee, owner of Roots Hair Studio at Sola Mayfaire in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Maybe the problem was that hair was weaved too deep into Amber’s DNA.

True to Her Roots

Amber comes from “a little-bitty town in the middle of the mountains in North Carolina,” she says, adding, “All of my family was hairdressers.” And because of that, Amber practically grew up in salons.

“I’m a big people person, and I can talk to anyone,” she says. Amber knew she could be extremely successful in the beauty industry — “But it was all about my education and the setting,” she says.

So in 2005 Amber switched from traditional college to beauty school, and supplemented her education by assisting under a stylist for a year post-graduation. “She taught me a lot,” Amber recalls. “Like how to do a blowout, which isn’t always taught.”

When Amber was hired at a new salon in Wilmington – the Beauty Bar – the job was a dream come true. The gig was commission-based, and Amber quickly built up a strong following.

During her time at the Beauty Bar, Amber’s boss paid her for to become a Wella master colorist, which required multiple trips to California over the course of two years.

A Bold Move

When Amber’s boss sold her business in 2013, the stylist was a little dumbfounded — until, that is, a Wella educator she’d met at the master colorist trainings hyped her to a little something called Sola Salons.

“She raved about the opportunity Sola offered stylists,” Amber says. When Amber learned Sola was coming to her town, she couldn’t resist giving it a try. In January of 2014, she opened her own salon, and business boomed.

Six months later, when her husband, a marine, was stationed in Tampa, Amber made a bold decision: She kept her salon open, and flew back and forth between Florida and North Carolina… while she was pregnant! “That’s how well the salon was doing,” she says.

During her first year as a small business owner, Amber doubled her revenue. She’s since returned to Wilmington full-time, and says signing on with Sola is the best decision she’s ever made, career-wise.

Secrets to Success

Those would be retail and relationships! 

“Retail is huge for me,” Amber says. But when it comes to moving products, it’s not about making a hard sell — it’s about educating clients.

“I don’t sell retail,” says Amber. “I just set the product down right in front of my clients, and when they ask about it, I explain what the product is and how to use it.”

“I’m a southern girl,” Amber continues, explaining, “I don’t speak with big words or industry jargon. I simplify everything for my clients, and I think that’s where people learn the most.”

It doesn’t hurt that Amber’s a people person. “My clients and I are very close,” she says. And because of that, Amber says, “Retention at my salon is huge.”

Over 90 percent of Amber’s clients have worked with her since her days at the Beauty Bar, and Amber’s currently on a 2 to 3 month wait list for new clientele. “I’ve probably lost eight clients in my entire career,” she adds.

Private salons like the ones offered at Sola are very conducive to building strong relationships with salon guests. “You’re alone in your studio, and you have that intimate, one-on-one time with your clients,” Amber says.

But she adds, “What I love about Sola is that you aren’t totally alone. You also have a family to empower you.”

Staying Motivated

Amber often looks to fellow Sola stylists for motivation. She’ll walk down the hallway during breaks, for example, or peruse a fellow salon owner’s Instagram account when she needs inspiration. “At Sola,” Amber says, “It’s not a competition. We motivate each other.”

Another way Amber maintains her passion is through ongoing education.

“Our jobs can be very repetitive,” Amber admits. Staying current on trends doesn’t just make you a more knowledgeable practitioner — it also keeps the job interesting. “That’s why Sola Sessions are so important,” says Amber, noting, “You’ve got to find your niche to keep yourself motivated. That’s why I keep loving my job.”

Learn more about Amber over on her Sola webpage, or follow her on Instagram!