Stylist Spotlight: Jennifer Jade Alvarez
Our mission at Harper Ellis Hair Co. is to support stylists in their quest for personal success. We elevate our hand-tied artists not only by providing them access to the highest quality hair extensions on the market, but also in offering an unparalleled stylist support network and industry-leading hair education.
We chat with Jennifer Jade Alvarez, the founder and owner of Refined Beauty Boutique, in this month's Stylist Spotlight, coming all the way from Naperville, Illinois! She truly has an amazing story (as well as some amazing extension work!) that we are so proud to share with you. Keep reading to hear about her journey starting her own salon, her advice for newbies, and her plans for the summer!
At 38 years young, I still don't have everything figured out. I grew up in a small town, Clifton, Illinois, with 1,400 people. Everyone knew everything and everyone. As the youngest of four, I was a strong-willed, independent gal with an incredible drive to be successful. Unfortunately, the immaturity and recklessness of passion and desire, paired with a lack of self-worth, led me down a dark road of drugs and a physically abusive relationship at a young age. I was surrounded by a loving family who quickly saw the struggle, helped me sell my home, and get a restraining order. From there, I moved to Arizona with my half-brother to get some time to figure life out. Little did they know, distance wasn't the answer. Six months later, I moved back home and wanted to move to a better area not too far from my mom and dad. I found myself drawn to the suburbs of Naperville in 2005. I was able to get on a path of recovery there and discovered new strengths and confidence. I realized the partner I wanted in life needed to be patient, loving, a cheerleader, kind, and driven. Once I knew what I deserved in love, love found me. I married my haircut client, whom I had seen since 2006, in 2015. We love traveling, wine tasting, magical visits to Disney, our mini golden doodle, Duffy, and hosting friends and family at our home. Not to say that life always has a happily ever after, but with time, healing, prayer, and love, I would definitely say I am blessed.
We would love to know what brought you to where you are now! Tell us about your career as a hairstylist — how you started, all that fun stuff!
Being a business owner was an idea I was exposed to when I was 18 during my time in beauty school. After developing a mock salon business model and winning a laptop for my creativity and proficiency, I knew I needed to actually pursue it at some point in my life. After getting my life on track, and as my business as a hairstylist grew, I started to study business. I enrolled in a local college for business planning. I was both obsessed with and scared to start a business, so I took every class I could and surrounded myself with business people for a few years. It wasn't until a conflict caused me to leave the salon that I was at for 11 years that decided to start small and open a salon suite in 2016. To be honest, I hated it. Being alone in the room with a client felt uncomfortable and claustrophobic. I longed for team camaraderie and the opportunity to be an educator--especially because I left a leadership role in the previous salon I worked in. That's when I realized I must keep growing and open a salon. There were few real estate options available, so I searched for three years while studying business and training staff. Then, the heavens opened and I found my dream location. I envisioned this business as a platform where I could show stylists how to be financially successful. I love teaching my team how to build a thriving business they are passionate about and that supports their life goals. I wanted a salon that exudes a welcoming, refined ambiance and a culture that represents authentic teamwork. We opened in 2019 and hit the ground running, despite the pandemic closure. Today we have seven employees, a strong culture, and a growth trajectory I could have never imagined. I am not just a hairstylist, but a learning leader with a mission to help my team reach their goals and create opportunities for career growth.
What advice would you give to other stylists starting their careers?
If you are starting a career in the beauty industry, know that it is okay to fail. It may take you a few salons to find your people and an environment you will thrive in. You may mess up several clients' hair. You might not have it all figured out. I give you permission to be okay with that journey. With social media and comparison with your peers, your mindset can trick you into thinking that you are behind or not enough. In this life, your career is for YOU and the person you become along the way. Focus more on your strengths and people skills, and give yourself the grace to improve daily. Be a student for life—never let yourself feel like you know it all. There will always be someone who does or knows more than you. Reach out your hand and help others along the way. Find a team and a mentor who demonstrates empowerment and encouragement. Dream big and stay grounded. Once you arrive at your destination, you will quickly realize you have more places to go. This industry has limitless opportunities, so if you can't find one, create it.
Can you tell us why you choose to use hand-tied extensions and why you use Harper Ellis hair?
As a salon that chooses to offer the best on the market and an environment of refined taste, we must align our business with brands of the same caliber. In 2022, our team aims to increase our brand's visibility and become the go-to salon for hair extensions and bridal services. We searched the web for the best on the market that offered support, education, and quality. That is when we discovered Harper Ellis! At the last minute, I decided I must know what Harper Ellis was all about and secretly flew out to Austin, Texas, to become certified. I quickly became a fan of their authenticity, customer service, method, and attention to detail. Two of my staff also became certified, and since then, we have increased our extension business by 7% in just 2 months. The hand-tied extensions are a game-changer for us. They have created many opportunities to help our clients and to support the team financially. We have high standards and goals, and we are proud to have the stamp of approval from Harper Ellis.
Tell us something you're excited about this summer!
This year, we have over 60 weddings. We have many exciting plans of action to grow our extension business. All business aside, the team and I all love traveling, taking vacations, and getting together to celebrate success and life. It can't all be work, so we must take time to unwind and reenergize. This summer, we painted the town red at JoJo's Shake Bar and our favorite local spot, Wine Bar 64, with food, drinks, and laughs. Every quarter, I love planning a team outing to connect on a friendship level outside the salon. For our next team outing, we have a house party with a Taco Truck and bonfire.