Meet Brooke Rockwell. She is the owner of Brooke Rockwell Hair Design at Nova Place. Her new salon is located on the west end of the Concourse near PNC, City Fresh Pasta, and the Eco Bistro Express. Prior to moving to Nova Place, you would have found Brooke and her team of talented stylists at their original studio at City View Apartments (also owned by Faros Properties). In fact, Brooke Rockwell Hair Design just celebrated their 25th anniversary, which is an incredible accomplishment!
Brooke’s positivity and dedication to her studio and styling shines through when she speaks about the story of how she got to where she is today. It began with a haircut – that of her younger sister. She cut her sister’s hair in her bedroom, and then the two sisters would cut their baby doll’s hairs to style them how they wanted. Brooke and her sister still work together today.
Brooke began seriously pursuing her passion for hair design in high school, followed by cosmetology school, and college at Duquesne University for accounting. She told us that not only does she love hair, but also she’s always loved business. She’s responsible for managing the business aspect of her company.
We interviewed Brooke in the beginning of March, which happens to be Women’s History Month. As a female-owned business, we asked what that means to her. She told us this:
“I’m so proud of this company, and it’s an honor to be in this business for as long as I have. For so long, a lot of big salon names were after men – so I’m proud to have a women-owned and named salon, as well. But honestly, it’s not something on my mind constantly because it’s what I want to do and like to do. I think more women should own salons.”
We then talked about any issues she’s had as a female business owner, for which she answered:
“For me, it was hard because growing up I was told women weren’t supposed to be boastful; we were to be seen, not heard. It was hard at first putting myself out there to talk up my salon and accomplishments. But you just have to put yourself out there, and now I constantly force myself to do that. I’m hoping that girls are now taught at a young age to be more aggressive and focused, and that it’s a good thing!”
Our conversation with Brooke continued with a Q&A. See the rest of the interview below!
Q: What is a typical day like at the salon?
A: So today is probably a typical day. I get up early and check my emails. A lot of communication I do via email is with the brides who chose us for their wedding hairstyles. After responding to emails, I make my to-do lists and run a few errands before I come into the salon. I also catch up on my social networks like Facebook and Instagram, which are so important in my field. Once I get in, my main focus is hair. I’m either doing hair or speaking on the phone or working with the other stylists. I’ll check on our inventory and run out to purchase more supplies when we’re running low. I’m usually here until about 7 or 8 p.m. during the week days. But they go fast. I sometimes sneak out and go to the gym [Union Fitness] for an hour, which is nice because it’s so close. It renews me for the afternoon and evening.
Q: What has been your biggest customer success story?
A: This is such a personal business. I have clients who I’ve had for 25 years, and they’ve brought their kids and now I’ve done their weddings. It’s the whole kind of relationships that we have with our clients that makes this so successful. To me, it’s every day working with people because there’s so much instant gratification. You can tell right away that someone likes their hair, and it can be a successful day.
Also there was this day recently when I opened a bridal magazine and saw my salon listed as a recommended salon. I saw us there, and felt like wow – this is a moment we’ve been working toward.
Q: What keeps you going when things get tough in your business?
A: I still focus on all the good things that happen and you just keep trying to do better. It’s such a happy business, and it’s hard to stay sad for long. When it’s slow we use that time to learn new things and new products and new techniques. We’re lucky that we don’t have too many bad times because there’s always something to do. For me, when the salon is slow, I use that time to blog and keep up on social media.
I think you have to be a positive person to be a hairdresser. Each hairdresser is responsible for their own social media and networking so you can always brand yourself. Each employee has their own Instagram to show off their products. We want everyone to be happy, and it really affects all of us if someone is not happy. So we always strive to be better.
Q: What do you do when you’re not in the office?
A: So I have my family, my sisters and my mom and my nephew and niece nearby, and I spend time with them. My husband and I love to eat. Either we go out to eat or we cook. We actually just took a pasta making class, and it was really fun. We travel a lot too. So if we’re not working, we’re talking about where we’re going to go and we’ll plan trips. We do a lot of driving trips, and we love to visit cities.
Q: What 3 things does anyone starting in your industry need to know?
- Social Media is so important. You have to document everything you do because people need to see your book.
- Treat it like your own business, and be responsible for yourself. Each hairstyle you deal with, each client you work on has to be your business. You want to develop that relationship, and you want them to come back to you, and you want them to refer their friends to you and you want to build on every client that you get. This business is all about referrals. When you’re out and about, you bring your business cards and try to get clients.
- Continue your education. There’s schooling that teaches you the basics, but you need to keep up with trends. You have to be aggressive and there’s so much competition out there that you have to keep up with.
Q: How do you like working in your new Nova Place studio?
A: It’s so nice because we have more space at Nova Place. It’s so much brighter and it’s busier and vibrant. It’s more of a community, and there are little neighborhoods, and we’ve been meeting people in different sections. It was hard for me to leave my first studio, but we were growing so we needed more space. It was good timing.
Q: Where do you see the future of your industry?
There’s always new colors, new techniques, and new products. It seems like things are a little more safer for the hair and safer for the client so their hair is left in a better condition. I think in the future we’ll be able to do typically time consuming processes – like taking dark curly hair and turning it straight and blond – faster and better.
We also hope to see more weddings. We did 60 weddings last year, and we’re excited for more.
That’s all folks! Thanks to Brooke Rockwell for being one of our Nova Place Influencers.