WELCOME to the first of a series of “Savvy Spotlight” interviews with famous and up-and-coming women entrepreneurs and business owners.
Elsa Rhodes is an artist. When you meet her, you notice right away that her craft and her personal style go hand-in-hand. As a co-owner of Platform Color Style Salon in San Dimas, California, Elsa exudes a bright, friendliness, and when she is at work, clipping, shearing, coloring and styling, her focus and intensity instantly communicates that she loves what she does, and she does it with excellence. I pulled Elsa away for a quick conversation about herself, her salon, and her style.
What did you want to be when you were a little girl? Were you always fascinated by hair?
I had no specific desire to cut hair. In fact, like a lot of people, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do – even when I went to college. At first, I was interested in interior design, but after a couple of classes, I knew it wasn’t for me.
What made you decide to become a hair stylist?
It’s funny, because I was attending San Diego State, and one day I walked by a beauty school, and thought, “That would be a cool and fun thing to check out.” I went in and gathered brochures and information. That is when the ball got rolling, and when I began to really consider changing my path altogether and attend beauty school. Thereafter, I attended Citrus College and immersed myself in their cosmetology program.
What was the beginning of your career like?
I am a very goal-oriented and motivated person. By nature, I don’t like to sit around and hope things “happen”. I am pretty proactive, and try to do all I can do to get the job done. When I got my first salon job, I was also waiting tables. Because I was starting out, I had to continue to shape my technique and to learn from other seasoned stylists. With that particular salon, I was apprenticed and mentored. I was given the tools on how to be an expert hair stylist, but also how to essentially run my own business, as I was renting chair space, and managing my set of clientele
What gave birth to Platform Color Style Salon?
I mentioned earlier that I have always been goal-oriented. Getting to the next level in my career motivates me to continue to work toward bigger things. After working for years for a salon owner, I knew that eventually I wanted to own my salon. The fact that my clients would mention that I should go on my own stuck in my spirit. One day one of my friends from Citrus College introduced me to my now business partner, Lisa D. Crane. As they say, the timing was right, and in 2006, Lisa and I debuted Platform Color Style Salon.
What is your hair specialty?
I am a Master Stylist and Master Colorist. However, if you want to break that down, my specific niche is color correction. This came quite by default, because whenever a client came in with a color disaster, the other stylists in my salon would direct them to me. I love the artistic and technical challenge of color correction. This is where my perfectionist tendencies come into play. LOL! I am also the only certified extensions stylists, with an expertise in bonded extensions. This technique is meticulous, but I really dig the customization and detail I can put into it.
Describe your personal style? Who are your style inspirations?
(Laughs) Hmmmm, I would say that I have a cool, California vibe. I love chunky accessories and tall, platform heels. I love splashes of bold color with black. I’m kind of edgy, with a little bit of classic thrown in. Maybe more funky. My major style inspiration is Gwen Stefani. She is the epitome of hip, chic, cool, trendy and funky. I’ve always loved her.
What is your advice to up-and-coming stylists and entrepreneurs?
In any venture, research and talk to people who are already doing what you are thinking of getting into. Make an informed decision, and if what your goal or passion still resonates within in, go for it! Embrace it! Go into it full-force. Don’t doubt a decision that you have made for your future or for your career if you have taken the time to look into that business or career track. For stylists, be prepared to work hard at first, be teachable, be willing to be mentored and do an apprenticeship. Learn from the best. I recommend that recent graduates work in a salon that emphasizes mentoring and teaching. Be some place where cutting edge techniques are being used, and where all the stylists (and salon owners) are regularly certified and/or educated. Creativity should never go stale.
To meet Elsa and have her do your ‘do, contact Platform Color Style Salon at 909-971-0271. She will do a consultation to make sure she understands your styling needs, get familiar with your tresses, and connect with the you as the sassy, savvy woman that you are! (Guys are always welcome to get their hair shorn and styled.)