Pomp Salon is breaking down some mighty barriers in California, with strides in staff education, traveling, brand collaborations with prestigious brands like Joico, and staying on top of the hottest trends in any season.
Estetica had the tremendous pleasure of speaking to Dino Ballin, owner of Pomp Salon, who’s 22-year-old career, has given him clarity on how to be successful in the industry. We asked how the groundbreaking salon came about as the example of hairstyling in their community, and how they translate energy to their clients and the industry through social media and events.
As America’s Prime Salons, we like to feature the reasons behind the geographic success of the salon. As a blow bar, that makes you very special, why did you choose to create the bar concept?
“From the beginning I decided to incorporate the Blow Bar aspect simply because I believe its imperative to stay current. If a salon isn’t current, it’s irrelevant. From a consumer viewpoint a Blow Bar is the newest form of salon. The consumer will often visit the salon out of curiosity alone and of course that creates the opportunity to upsell. However, I should note that we are a full service salon 1st.”
Pomp salon is loving the unicorn hair!! From classes, to contests, to posts, to features in publications, Pomp is teaching and creating amazing looks. How do you get to the point of specializing on such a recent difficult trend in such a short time?
“Again, we want to be at the leading edge of any movement. If we are last to discover a new trend, we have failed. Our client base deserves the newest and freshest looks. Hair is a part of the fashion industry. It’s our job to know the looks and trends and to be able to explain them to our clients. As an example, when I heard the first whispers of Olaplex I instructed my manager to get some and use it extensively. If it’s good we need to know about it. We were the first salon in our area to offer Olaplex to our clients. As a premium salon we fully accept a leadership role. Our desire is to lift the entire industry not only the stylists in our own salon. So, as that relates to services, we have our fingers on the pulse of the hair industry, if there’s a new trend or twist we seek it out and learn it then we provide education for it, even if we have to fly in a top artist such as Larisa Love, Rickey Zito, Linh Phan, James Miju, Adam Federico, Justin Thomas to name a few – not only for our stylists but for every stylist in our community. And 99% of these classes are completely free for everyone. Pomp Salon hosts classes every Monday on just about everything you can think of – Balayage, Ombre, business, marketing, barbering, consultations, motivation, retail sales, investing, etc etc. We have a commission program at Pomp Salon and love it! We bring in young, fresh stylists and we train them. The Monday classes are mandatory for them. It’s so rewarding to see these young stylists develop careers the right way. Yes, the right way. We not only build careers, we build the right kind of careers. We focus on price points and booking frequency to ensure 6 figure careers. In my 22 years I have often seen that the career one builds is the one they are stuck with. So I like to catch them early and help them build the right career.”
From the inside, what is it about Pomp that makes it so metropolitan?
“First, I think it’s the design. If a human can dress for success then so can a business! Pomp Salon looks incredible. We use Freestylist Hanging Hair Dryers that “float”. This system supports the weight of the dryer to alleviate shoulder stress. We have phone chargers built into the electrical system. They are at every station, in the processing area and waiting room. This is the digital age and when a client comes in after work they may be experiencing “phone charger anxiety”. Pomp Salon has 49 phone charging stations throughout the salon to eliminate that anxiety. Cords for all types of phones are provided. We have cool bubble walls, a dynamic product selection and when you build a cool, chic salon the personnel gets on board and conforms. I say in my classes that your clientele will mirror you. If you have respect for yourself and respect time, your clients will respect you and your time. If you walk into a greasy spoon, you conform to that environment, if you walk into a high end restaurant you conform to that environment. Nobody wants to negatively stand out. So both our clients and personnel conform to our metropolitan environment… for the most part.”
On a day-to-day basis, how do the Freestylist Hanging Hair Dryer system compare to a traditional drying system? For the stylist and the client…
“First, they are the coolest thing in any salon. Few people have seen and experienced them. They are a conversation starter. As a said they support the weight of the dryer, they are obviously tangle free, they come on and off automatically (no need to use the switch), you can use them with virtually any dryer. After a service many clients state that they’d like one for their homes. They certainly help to set Pomp Salon alone in a crowded field. Of the 1,000 salons in my area, how many have Freestylist Dryers? Only Pomp Salon. But back to the first thing – they’re just so darned cool!“
Pomp has classes every Monday night, how does education play a part in not only the salon, but the hairdressing community? When did you start these classes and what has been the turnout?
“Education is key. In any franchise the support system is key. The better the support system, the better the franchise. Education is our primary tool for support. If my stylists need education in any area, I get it plain and simple. We began our Monday education when I reintroduced a commission program about a year and a half ago. My young stylists are in the game. Every day is game day. They need to be prepared for anything and everything. I do things differently, I guess. I have high expectations for them from day one and I expect them to deliver. Nobody is allowed to say, no. There is zero growth from the word no. They must say, yes to anything even is it scares the shit out of them. We give them tons of support and encouragement and education to ensure a good outcome. If they struggled during the week on anything then I get the proper class for them the following Monday. The turnouts have varied greatly. I’ve given the class for as few as 2 people and as many as 60 or so. For whatever number comes, we try equally hard to deliver. I’m at every single class. The first hour is me talking business, marketing, motivation. Sometimes I’ll play videos from Eric Thomas, Jim Rhone, Brandon Carter, Zig Ziglar, etc. The next hour or 2 will be technical – cutting, color, etc. Every class is open to the entire hair community and again, 99% are absolutely free. I provide food and beverages at every class as well.”
Love your salon’s FB page. It has so much interaction! How do you use social media to grow the business? Are all of the stylists involved through the salon or to they help engage in the salon’s business digitally at all?
“Our Facebook page is very active. It’s wonderful for generating local traffic. I like to use the “boost post” feature for important events. That has worked really well for me. Our client base seems to have a great time interacting with us on Facebook. Yelp is HUGE. Most businesses have a love/hate relationship with Yelp (often mostly hate) and so did I at first. Now I just love Yelp. Yes, there will be the occasional unfair or even completely false review but I love that Yelp keeps me and my team on my toes. One of the biggest opportunities in business in handling a dissatisfied customer. Usually, if you go the extra mile, which is what every good business should do anyway, you can change their viewpoint and create a really loyal and valuable customer. Instagram is enormous also. IG has opened new doors for us all. It’s given individuals a powerful voice and it’s also your resume in your pocket. Most of my stylists photograph all of their work and post it to one or all of the social media sites. Not a week goes by that we don’t get new customers from these sites.“
What do you look for when selecting the brands that Pomp uses? Why did you select Joico? What is your favorite Joico product to use at home/work and why?
“We simply like to use products that work regardless of price point or “flash”. We currently are stockists of Fanola and Oribe. We use and retail these products because we love them. We can recommend them with 100% conviction. Our favorite Joico products are Joico Intensities and Design Works hairspray. We love Joico Intensities because of their incredible shine, the wide variety of shades and they are are also long lasting. We also love mixing them to create custom shades. Intensities is our go to color line for Fantasy Colors. And a 4 ounce tube?? We love the large tube size! Design Works is amazing. We love it because it smells wonderful, it’s excellent for hot styling tools – it is not sticky. It’s perfect for up do styles as it has a ton of hold with maximum flexibility and it’s buildable. It sells itself to clients. For a retail program you cannot beat a product that sells itself! (There’s more coming on HairShake as well).“
See on your page that you held a Pomp Salon Education Event with many celebrity hairstylists events at the salon. When did you begin this brand collaboration through events and how does a salon in the US benefit from these collaborations?
“We have recently begun hosting high profile educational events. On November 16, we had an event with Larisa Love @larisadoll, Rickey Zito @hairgod_zito, Linh Phan @bescene, James Miju @dearmiju, Kathleen Austin @hairgoddesskat Don Godfrey @nothingbutpixies. Prior to that we also had an event with Brandi Zito, Anthony Giannotti @anthonythebarber916, Rachelle Vaughn @missrachellev, Darlene Carranco @darlene_the_stylist. I had contacted a high profile touring group about coming to my hometown, Stockton, and the answer I got was, “maybe”. I thought, OK. I’ll do it myself. I became sort of obsessed with the idea.
Stockton is a smallish Northern California town of about 250,000 population. Nobody ever flies into Stockton for anything. We fly everywhere else for these kinds of things. And so I grew to love the idea of bringing high profile education home. I have a great friend, Luke Phang, owner of Salon Guys, who has helped greatly in the organization of these events. For the last event, people came into Stockton from all over the country – East coast, Southern California, Bay Area, Arizona, Utah, Washington, Oregon and even from Canada. We had 100 people at the event including some very influential artists. We had in attendance @paintedhair, @evalam_, @philipwolfhair, @excellenthairsalon, @colorbymichael, @shondabroadus, @hairbykathynunez, @sammiwang and many many more. It was incredible to see such amazing artists in Pomp Salon educating and speaking with passion.
There are many benefits from education such as this not the least of which is inspiration. What I love about the hair industry is that it is a great equalizer. Meaning that you can come from any background, ethnicity, geographic area and you can make it big. You can build a magnificent rewarding career and even become influential if that’s your desire. My good friend Rickey Zito says, ‘I’m just a kid from Zito Lane in Louisiana.’ But look at him now! He’s @hairgod_zito and he’s got influence. He’s also one of the nicest guys you will ever meet and he’s an inspiration to all. Larisa Love – she gave up everything she had to start fresh and build her dream career (you can read about it in her blog on her IG profile) I just adore her! She is fiercely driven and highly intelligent. She is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met and obviously very talented. She delivers 100% always. I call her America’s Sweetheart Hairstylist. I’m still not sure she like that! haha…“
You guys attended so many conferences this season, how does POMP Salon play a part in beauty conferences around the country?
“My right arm, girlfriend, manager and stylist Vicki Kirk loves education. We’re on the same page in that regard. We attend every single conference/educational event we can possibly make time for. If there is something happening we need to know it first and we need to bring it home. I’ve been a barber for 22 years and I’ve owned 12 salons in 4 different cities. I love to travel and I love action and growth. I love saying, Yes… to opportunity, to life. Traveling to conferences opens new doors and creates new friendships. And we always come home inspired, fresh and with new ideas.”