Everyone loves a good happy hour. It typically means the work day is over, the adult bevs are flowing and apps are being consumed. (If there is no food present, find new drinking buddies.)
I've told you about my friend, AJ, and our adventures in planning her wedding on the blog before. She perfects my hair and I make sure the biggest party of her life goes smoothly, all whilst drinking copious amounts of champagne and Malbec. It's a good thing we have going.
Well Age and I have become quite close over the past few years, and aside from her obvious raw talent, her determination and business acumen inspire me all the time. So who better to join me for a Happy Hour than this girl?! Grab a glass of bubs (I don't care that it's before 9am) and read on!
KP: You’re only 27. And you’re killing it. How did you find your passion so early on?
AJ: Jeepers thank you! When I was a freshman in highschool I started thinking about what I didn’t want to do with my life instead of what I did. That backwards approach helped me realized I needed an anti-cubicle lifestyle where I could be creative, make a difference in the lives of women and break the mold of what is expected. My time behind the chair and writing for the blog encompass what I love, and are never boring.
KP: Where do you want to see your business go in the next 5 years?
AJ: Being that I didn’t ever fill out a college application or interview for a corporate job, that’s the first time I’ve been asked that question. To be honest I’m so proud of the business I’ve built. It took a few years of being on a serious grind to gain some momentum, and right now I’m just enjoying the speed. Looking forward, I can’t say I see myself in the salon forever, but I can say I see myself in the salon in five years. One day I’ll walk away, and focus specifically on the bridal business, but I’m nowhere near ready to let go of seeing my blonde babes every six weeks, catching up over lattes and new growth. It’d be like breaking up with 800 of my best friends.
KP: Every bride, every colleague, everyone I have ever talked to that knows you is obsessed with you. How do you maintain being so loveable while still being a strong, grounded businesswoman (i.e., you aren’t a pushover)?
AJ: That’s the biggest compliment I’ve ever received, thank you.
It’s so simple, JUST BE NICE. It’s important to respect your colleagues, clients and friends, while still protecting your baby: your business. I believe my pricing and limited availability reflect the brand I’ve worked so hard to create and continuously deliver, so I don’t find it hard to, as you say, not be a pushover. When you’re confident in yourself and what you’ve built, while caring about those around you and what they’re building - be it a business or a marriage, there’s little room for bad energy.
KP: Who is your ideal bride?
AJ: She’s so confident in her relationship that the details of the wedding day are just an added bonus, not the reason why this party is happening. She trusts me, and that’s exactly why she hired me. She values tradition, but is more concerned with creating her own and isn’t afraid to forgo the veil or pop in some longer extensions. She wants to look like herself, just a little extra special.
KP: You are crazy fast when you are working. How do you dominate bridesmaids in 20 minutes?
AJ: New clients often shiver at the thought of me only booking 20 minutes per person, it’s kind of one of those things you have to see to believe. I’m not rushing. I’ve never rushed a client out of my chair. Time management is extremely important in the salon, and in a bridal suite on a wedding day. I focus on having a good consultation with each girl and from there it’s just executing the look. The biggest factor that positively affects my timing: no one wants prom hair anymore, and updo’s aren’t a collection of 78 crunchy curls. The styles my girls are looking for are either simple and classic, or boho and whimsy.
KP: What beauty advice do you have for brides leading up to their wedding? Do you like when clients bring photos to trials?
AJ: Don’t do ANYTHING for the first month. When we got engaged, we immediately started discussing the budget and the head count, because you need those two things in order to book a venue. I wish we would have basked in that first month without planning a single thing. We asked all of our bridesmaids and groomsmen if they would be in the wedding right away, booked the venue and all of our vendors, and for what? Four weeks won’t determine how amazing your wedding is. Take at least that first month, and just get used to calling your boyfriend your f i a n c e.
KP: Your wedding is coming up in 5 WEEKS (ahhh)! What are you most excited about? What are you most nervous about?
AJ: Is this real life? I’m excited that we’re writing our own vows, I think that exchange will be really special for both of us. The only thing I’m nervous about is Sammy loving my dress! It’s not what he’d expect me to wear, and I hope he loves it as much as I do.
KP: What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs and bloggers?
AJ: It’s one thing to be inspired by someone else’s work, but create your own brand and be proud of what you put into the world. The duplicate is never as good as the original, be you and own it.
KP: You and Sammy (unfortunately) spend a significant time apart since he’s a baller in the Major Leagues (so cool!). What is the toughest part about it, aside from obviously missing one another?
AJ: We’ve been on this crazy adventure together for six years, so by now we have a great system and just get that much more excited when we do get to be together. Of course I have my moments and pout about having to go to weddings without him, but mostly it’s just hard not having him around for the lazy Sundays or trips to Whole Foods, (we both get wayyy too excited about grocery shopping).
KP: When do you sleep?
AJ: On planes! I stay up super late because the National’s games go late and then by the time Sammy and I chat about our days and unwind via Facetime, it’s after midnight.