Studio RK: On the up and up… and UP!
by Sara Altizer

Studio RK Team Photo

Renee Walker opened Studio RK twenty-five years ago. Renee has a talent for creating a fun environment for her guests and has worked hard to provide excellent service from the very beginning. The bigger and more successful Studio RK became, the more Renee realized that she did not know all there was to know about salon ownership. But Summit Salon Business Center was there to provide Renee with a structured salon business plan, salon leadership training, and the salon consulting services that would make Studio RK the stable success Renee had dreamed of.


Studio RK experienced early success, something that Renee attributes to her hard work and fun-factor. “People gravitate towards hard workers and honesty and fun,” Renee explains. “People are always looking for fun.” She knew that she was getting that element right, but the challenge came when Renee did not have an outlined budget or a sense of what future costs she could expect.

Studio RK lacked defined systems and goals. On top of that, the owners were only taking a 50 percent commission from the time they spent behind the chair. Renee says, “I felt nervous, anxious, and not always sure of what I was doing. I was hardworking, but I was not a great leader. I did not know anything about P and Ls or doing one-on-ones with staff to help establish personal and professional goals.”

When Renee and her team relocated and knew that they were becoming a big company, Renee sought out a business leadership program that could help her grow her staff and herself. Renee heard about Summit Salon Business Center from Chuck Hastings, who was the north district manager of ISR at the time. “He pulled me aside and told me that I had to go to a program called The Summit,” Renee recalls.

Summit Salon Systems

During The Summit and while implementing the Summit Salon Systems, Renee began to set goals for Studio RK. With the help of Summit Salon Consulting Group, Renee decided to expand her leadership team by bringing in Pamela Knight, Deborah Marsh, and Jen Pagnutti as part owners of the salon. With these four owners now working together to manage and delegate, Studio RK found stability and a sense of purpose.

“The Summit Salon Systems taught us how to grow and lead based on goals and profitability,” Renee says. “We learned how to read and understand data so that we could plan and make better decisions to reach our goals. Now we even check the salons progress in the middle of the month so that we know what we need to do during the last two weeks to achieve our monthly goals. It also helps the salon culture because the stylists know that it is not personal.”

With the level system in place, Studio RK’s leadership team has the perfect foundation for building constructive dialogue needed to coach their stylists. This leadership and mentoring has increased the success of the stylists.

Jennifer Pagnutti, a level 4AA Owner, Support Staff Lead, and Associate Coach at Studio RK describes her experience.

“I have had the privilege of coaching six associates. Through goal setting and accountability, I have been able to go from a ‘going through the motions’ type mentality to a co-owner and associate coach. I would not have had these opportunities without the help of Summit Salon Systems.”


This systematic, goal-oriented, and self-aware approach was reinforced by monthly visits from Summit Salon consultant Michael Nikolas. “In him there is complete trust,” Renee says. “We have followed his advice every step of the way and have had great results. He brings accountability into the salon and keeps us all on top of it.”

As a team, they now know how to lead without emotion. “There is a mutual love and respect for one another now,” Renee explains. “We are here to grow and prosper together and as individuals, coworkers, and family. The professionalism has grown 100 percent, and I am a better listener. I also use my time much more wisely.”

As for future dreams, Renee, Pamela, Deborah, and Jen talk of profit sharing, franchises, and diversifying their brand. One thing is for certain, with a strong foundation rooted in the Summit Salon Systems, the only way to go is up.

Pre Summit (2002)

  • Total Annual Sales: 870,000
  • Average Retail/month: 9,132
  • Average Services/month: 63,367

One Year after Summit
launch (2003)

  • +90% Total Sales

Current Sales 2014
12 Years after Summit:

  • +245% Total Sales

Studio RK’s Summit Salon Consultant is Michael Nikolas.