When did you buy your franchise?
I opened my first Sola Salons franchise in La Jolla in 2006, only two years after the brand’s inception. My business partners are my sons, Jeremy and Austin Campbell, along with various financial investors, and together we have 20 open locations in San Diego, providing salon suites to over 800 independent salon owners.
How did you find out about the franchise and why did you choose that franchise?
I had several friends and associates from other business ventures who were involved with Sola Salons prior to starting my journey. They’re the reason I found out about the brand and its franchising opportunities.
Sola Salons offers franchise owners the flexibility to work from home and establish their own hours while supporting women, entrepreneurs and local organizations. With nearly 700 locations and 20,000 independent beauty pros, Sola Salons is invested in growing and supporting its community at both the corporate and franchise owner level. Through supporting local nonprofit organizations and initiatives, volunteering time and services and continued mentoring and education, Sola Salons takes every opportunity to be a charitable backbone to local communities.
At our local Sola Salons in San Diego, we believe deeply in giving back to the communities we live and work in. My business partners and I, as well as many other Sola Salons franchisees, are active in philanthropy and dedicated to supporting others by volunteering and providing support to beauty professionals throughout the country.
After my granddaughter’s CHARGE Syndrome diagnosis following her birth in 2013, my son and his wife wanted to help other families staying at the San Diego Ronald McDonald House (RMDH) and discovered an opportunity to use an empty salon space in the RMDH. The team renovated it and made the salon functional again, and our Sola San Diego partnered with the local RMDH to open a Sola Studio inside the house. Here, Sola San Diego professionals volunteer in the studio to provide complimentary haircuts and other beauty services to families staying at the House. This Sola salon inside an actual RMDH is the only one like it in the entire country – it’s our way of providing families a little respite during times of adversity.
What was your working background?
I joined the military due to my love of aviation. In fact, I started flying as young as fifteen! During my five years in service as a U.S. Army Aviator, I flew in Vietnam for a year and in Germany for two years. Following my time in service, I completed an engineering training program and then went to work in the aerospace industry as both an engineer and a pilot. After that, I took on several roles in business management and entrepreneurship, the latest of which was with the Sola franchise. During my free time, I enjoy working out, playing squash, and skiing when in season. I also have a passion for photography, motorcycling, and flying gliders.
What was the turning point that made you realize you wanted to change your career path?
The turning point for me was that several friends and associates had shifted their careers into Sola Salons franchising – so my eldest son and I decided to make the move. My son, Austin, choosing this path had quite a large effect on my decision and I’m very proud that I get to work with family, including my other son Jeremy, who joined us a few years later.
What was the process like once you signed the franchise agreement? As far as training, site selection, fit out, etc.
Sola Salons was a very young franchise, so the process was heavily oriented toward learning as we went along. Finding appropriate and affordable real estate in our Southern California market was the first real challenge. Then, building our first salon was next. Educating the market on the concept of a suite-style salon was the next challenge. No one in Southern California had ever heard of the concept, let alone of Sola Salons, given it was a new brand. Our first location started out slowly from a fill standpoint but accelerated as the concept of salon suites caught on.
The Sola Salons corporate team has a turnkey process that makes it extremely easy to join the franchise and even expand. They have streamlined all the management processes and continue to guide us on how to successfully open more and more locations in Southern California and beyond.
What type of training/support was (still is) provided to you?
Sola Salons offers franchise owners the flexibility to work from anywhere and establish their own hours while supporting women, entrepreneurs, and local organizations.
At our Sola Salon San Diego locations, we also created an education/community center for Sola professionals, relevant beauty product companies, and educators to host classes and events. We’ve named it the Sola Creative Space and it’s free to the community to hold networking events, art classes, business classes, personal gatherings, etc. It also serves as a podcast room where Sola professionals can rent it out for free for classes, coloring classes, business classes, etc.
Sola Salons provides additional resources and conferences throughout the year such as Sola’s annual national education event, Sola Sessions, a three-day event that is exclusive to Sola professionals with the beauty industry’s most dynamic, inspiring leaders and change-makers that provide its Sola beauty professionals with cutting-edge industry and business education. Sola Salons also offers an ambassador program called Faces of Sola, where individuals seeking a more active, corporate role with Sola Salons can apply to teach additional styling and services best practices to their fellow beauty professionals.
Sola Salons recently rolled out the Sola Connect platform, a wholly unique app that streamlines communication between our management, franchisees and beauty professionals. Developed in-house by our technology team, hundreds of Sola’s franchisees already use the app, with the intent to have Sola’s 20K+ community of beauty professionals rely on the app for access to continued educational materials, communication with their franchise owner and a curated system to help them manage their businesses by spring 2024.
Has your work/life balance improved since buying the franchise?
Work/life balance for me is especially good as my son and his younger brother, along with management staff, take on the vast majority of operational tasks. My role has moved to more of an overseer and advisor.
If someone was interested in joining your franchise system, what would you say to them?
As a franchisee, I would highlight the proven business model, the independence and creative freedom we offer to salon professionals, the extensive support and training, and the strong sense of community that sets Sola Salons apart. Our franchise system has a track record of success, and we empower our beauty professionals who rent the spaces to run thriving businesses.
I’m incredibly proud to be part of a community that supports entrepreneurship in the beauty industry. Sola Salons is the first ever salon suite concept to partner with Beauty Changes Lives, a nonprofit organization on a mission to establish the beauty profession as a first-choice career. To commemorate the launch of this philanthropic alliance within the beauty industry, Sola Salons is donating $25,000 to the nonprofit for its first-ever K(no)w Beauty Secrets campaign. This initiative serves as a movement to challenge industry perceptions and offer beauty professionals a platform to share their personal narratives and career journeys.
The key thing I try to tell people interested in our type of franchise is that although it outwardly looks like a real estate business, in fact, it is much more of a hospitality operation, just like a hotel or an airline. Of course, there are the demands of securing real estate and managing a build-out of the locations, but paying attention to the beauty professionals who are our tenants is the key to success and it has to be ongoing. You don’t just sit back and collect rent!
Any last thoughts on a particular aspect of your franchise system that stands out to you?
Even though the concept is now approaching twenty years of age, it still is relatively new, and bringing it into a market where it has not previously been, can be a challenge. Nevertheless, properly executed, it can bring success and satisfaction.
Sola Salons is a recession-resilient franchise with an understanding of markets across the United States and Canada. Sola brings market resources such as their new BookNow engine, allowing customers to online book and customize their appointments with their independent hairdressers, nail technicians, estheticians, massage therapists, or other beauty professionals. The real estate rental model requires minimal staff, drives unparalleled occupancy, and is backed by 19+ years of salon studio expertise. The model continues to grow increasingly in popularity, especially amid the pandemic as beauty professionals sought to go independent to offer their clientele more control over their salon experience.
Contributing to Sola Salons’ corporate success is a 90% occupancy rate average across 696 locations, a low 20% turnover rate (while other franchise salons see a turnover rate of 80-90%), and an impressive roster of 20,000+ independent beauty professionals. Sola Salons will soon celebrate its 700th location by the end of this year.
About Sola Salons:
Sola Salons is the world’s largest studio suites concept for independent beauty professionals, the brand is the leader in the salon studios sector with over 696 locations across the U.S. and Canada. Its innovative salon model empowers hairdressers, estheticians, nail techs, massage therapists, and other like-minded professionals to take control of their lives and careers. Sola provides beauty professionals with beautiful, fully equipped salon studios alongside the support and tools they need to launch their own salon business in no time.