Many stylists dream of becoming their own boss and Kiam Barrese of “Backstage Beauty Studio” did just that. She went from salon employee to booth renter to salon owner and now, when she isn’t putting her time in at the salon, she works as a hairstylist and makeup artist in the entertainment industry. She just wrapped on a film called “Night School” starring Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish and she took time out of her busy schedule to offer her advice.

Here are Kiams tips for building a clientele and moving forward in your career.


Your success will not depend on your talent alone. You must develop relationships with your clients and leave a positive lasting impression on them.

There are a lot of talented stylists out there; a client may easily forget the way you made them look but they will NEVER forget the way you made them feel! It’s what separates the good from the great.

Clients can tell when you are truly engaged and listening to their concerns. Always offer them your honest opinion based on what’s best for them. Consider hair type, face shape, complexion, occupation, personality and lifestyle. When they realize you’ve taken the time to customize their look just for them, they are yours to keep for as long as you have an open chair.


The internet has changed the way independent stylists can market their business. Many of the challenges I faced in the beginning of my career would have been much easier if social media platforms and business management tools were more common.

Something that has not changed over the years is the power of “word-of-mouth.” I realized my clients were walking billboards so I made sure they were equipped with my business cards. They were happy to give it to anyone who complimented their hair in the supermarket or doctors office for example.

When I saw how effective this was, I decided to create a referral program so my loyal clients could get a discount everytime they sent a client my way.


I’ve found two effective strategies that keep clients coming back.

  • I have a loyalty program and after a client’s tenth service, they get 25% off. They really enjoy working toward that goal and reaping the reward. I always share that excitement with them too and it gives them an incentive to return many times. It’s a win-win.
  • I also always make an effort to get clients to book their next appointments before they leave the salon.


Remember, you don’t always see the results of your marketing efforts right away. Don’t let that discourage you from investing in your business. Find your niche and focus on your strength. Know your worth — it dictates the type of clientele you’ll attract

Name: Kiam Barrese

City: Atlanta, GA

Specialty: Cosmetologist

Profile: StyleSeat

Instagram: @thecutslayer @queenofglam @backstagecosmetix

If you’ve learned some valuable lessons in the beauty/barber industry, we want to hear about them! Email to share your story.

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