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Hair: A Career Not A Job

It was “destiny” for Gaven Smith to create Studio Gaven over 21 years ago. Education has always been important to him, but he never took the traditional route. Gaven gives credit for his entrepreneurial spirit to his parents. His father, who was a home builder and broker, passed away when he was only 13, but taught him to be detail-oriented and inspired him to get into real estate later in life. Gaven says, “I used to build a home every two to three years. It’s a hobby to me, but a nightmare to most.” When his mother was a Mary Kay consultant, he would listen to her speak to customers on the phone with genuine interest in their lives and the products she was selling. Now it is paramount that Gaven achieves the same excellence in his business practices and is selective in the products they use at his hair studio.

In today’s world, young people want flexible work schedules, paid time off, and the ability to travel. Studio Gaven stylists are able to have those luxuries with their customizable and
sustainable career path. Gaven believed it was possible for someone in their early 20s to be able to own a home and be passionate about their styling career and not be struggling like some of their friends who did receive a bachelor’s degree. Stylists can build the life they want to live and afford it with the tools and system Studio Gaven provides.

Gaven remembers how from his first day of college, he knew it wasn’t for him. His Nashville hair stylist inspired him to go to cosmetology school. After honing his craft at a salon for awhile, he worked for L'Oréal for over 20 years and became one of the top color and chemical experts in the country for Redken. The highlight of his career at L’Oreal was teaching color and business education in Australia. Now Gaven loves training the stylists at his salon. Gaven says, “I do a series of classes called Financial Freedom which talks about their life, their debt, and student loans if any. Working with people day in and day out can be exhausting especially if your personal world is not put together. I also do all their business building classes and they get brand classes from all the brands we carry from L’Oréal.”

New stylists work alongside a top level stylist for a minimum of six months as part of an
Associates program to understand the salon’s core principles and ensure the ultimate guest experience. Within the first year, they receive two hour training sessions three times a month and can be paired with a mentor if they need help with any particular hair styles. Each year, they’ll set new goals and undergo the latest training to keep their techniques fresh and perfected. Driven stylists can grow their career in numerous ways such as specializing in extensions or highlights.

The studio hosts just shy of 60 stylists and is always hiring and building the team. Gaven says, “I look at retention as a huge factor of people’s happiness. We have a low turnover. We have people moving away for life changes, which isn’t a bad thing; it’s a celebration for those people.”

When there’s an abundance of hair salons in the area, it’s not necessarily about standing out. Gaven explains, “As an industry leader in this area, I want everybody on every corner of this industry to raise the bar, so we’re all known to have great businesses out here in Cool Springs, Franklin and Brentwood.” His stylists give gorgeous haircuts with the politeness and top quality service as a Ritz Carlton. So naturally, other salon owners will call him to ask his secrets to success and they’ll put their minds together without any weirdness or ulterior motive. He trusts it’s all about being transparent and building each other up. To reach a broader audience, he also coaches 12 salons on how to grow.

Gaven stays true to his own advice on keeping a work/life balance. For most weekends of the year, he’s at the lake in his boat, I O U Ladies, III. Other parts of the year, he’s decorating his home or traveling to far off places, his favorite being New Zealand.

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