Paying it Forward!
Salon Sanity: New Orleans, Louisiana
Profile by Sara Altizer


Jennifer Boutwell has been in love with the professional beauty industry all of her life. From the days when she cut the hair on her Barbie doll as a little girl, to trimming her mother’s hair as a teenager, Jennifer’s fascination with the industry has never waivered. “My mom has a book that she filled out at the beginning of school every year from kindergarten to twelfth grade,” Jennifer says, “and every year it says that I want to be a hairstylist when I grow up. I guess it was in my DNA.”

After Jennifer had been working behind the chair at Salon Sanity for eight years, her boss made her an offer she could not refuse. Jennifer agreed to purchase Salon Sanity, which had been in business for forty years.

“My biggest surprise was how many hairstylists, myself included, think we should have our own business but know absolutely nothing about the business,” Jennifer says. “Most of us have no clue what a profit and loss statement is, much less know how to follow a budget.”

In that first year, Jennifer faced many struggles, including transitioning from friend to respected boss, budgeting for repairs and education, and salon culture.

Despite hearing about Summit Salon Business Center from Redken Representative Kelly Milton, Jennifer was extremely skeptical and scared. “I had hired a coach from another company before, and that had resulted in a major walk-out. I was very apprehensive about Summit Salon Systems because of this experience.”

However, a stroke of luck provided Jennifer the nudge she would need to pursue the opportunity to take her salon company above and beyond what she could have imagined. She won a Redken contest, which included prizes that would have a profound effect on Salon Sanity. The prize package included training in salon culture and business strategy, resulting in an inner transformation of the salon and a building makeover, complete with redesign, remodeling, and rebranding, which resulted in an outer transformation.

Business Strategy

“Not only did we win a year of salon coaching from Summit Salon Consultant Deb McMahan,” Jennifer explains, “but a team member and myself were flown to The Summit in Tampa, and Michael Cole and Kristi Valenzuela did in salon training with the front desk team and service providers.”

“From this experience, I learned that the first thing I had to do was change my thinking,” Jennifer says. “I was an owner of a salon company—not a friend, not a stylist—an Owner. Second, I educated myself on the money. I learned what a profit loss statement was. Third, I implemented a budget based on the Summit Salon guidelines. Fourth, we planned career paths for each individual team member. And, fifth, I took a half a day a week from behind the chair to do office work (this was the hardest). It is an ongoing process with daily goals and tracking, constant education is a necessity, and Deb McMahan is still my coach—I wouldn’t be where I am without her.”

Rebranding and Remodel

For the physical transformation of Salon Sanity, Jennifer and her team had the opportunity to work with Peter Millard, one of the best salon designers in the world. And, they were given the opportunity to rebrand with a new marketing strategy.

“I met with Peter Millard and he was able to capture my vision and personality right off. I wanted a salon with NYC flair, but with a friendly atmosphere. I love black and white and I always have jewelry on. He found some lights that looked like a bracelet I had worn when we first met. It was super easy working with him because he ‘got me’.”

“The community jumped on board and participated as well,” Jennifer explains. “One of my clients, Sandra Taylor, is the owner of Pinnacle Lifestyles Custom homes, and she went above and beyond, doing the renovations in a five-week period while we remained open. Redken and SalonCentric flew two team members and me to Las Vegas for the Symposium to unveil the salon. It was absolutely the best thing that ever happened for the company.”

Laura from LIFT marketing coordinated the marketing aspect of everything, and I was able to have Envision Software, and a year of use free from Integrity. The salon was completely transformed. The remodel changed the business for the better. Within the first year, Salon Sanity doubled its retail sales and services grew more than 25 percent. Every year since the makeover there has been at least a 10 percent increase.

Dedication to Paying It Forward

After receiving such an incredible opportunity, Jennifer became dedicated to paying it forward. Salon Sanity is highly involved in the surrounding community, participating in charity fashion shows, Christmas bike giveaways, golf tournaments, festivals, etc. “Putting smiles on people’s faces and giving them hope for something better is worth it,” Jennifer says. “Our mission is to always ‘Do the best to make you your best!’”

“Becoming a Summit Salon Consultant was another way that I could give back,” Jennifer explains. “Being a consultant has changed my outlook on life in general. I love helping other salon owners experience the growth and change that I did, and looking for unique solutions that fit their individual needs.”

To any salon out there that is struggling to make ends meet, Jennifer has some words of advice for you. “When it seems impossible remember that ‘quitting is not an option.’ Determination is one of the best attributes I have, and it will help get you through whatever you’re going through.”

Don’t wait for a stroke of luck to change your salon company for the better, click here to find Summit Salon Business Center programs and consultants near you.


• Salon Sanity’s Summit Salon Consultant is Deb McMahan.