If you’ve lived in Knoxville since the 80s and 90s, then Ross needs no introduction. It’s a name and face, or at least a brand, you likely remember because Ross Badgett III of R&Co Salons made sure of it. When he purchased two bankrupt Fantastic Sams and moved his family to Knoxville, Ross went straight to advertising the renamed and rebranded salons with the sort of loud and comical advertising that his daughters found mortifying.
But not his son, Ross Badgett IV, who took over the business a few years ago. Ross IV was in second grade when his father bought the Fantastic Sams salons, and when he came of age he had to make a big life decision – College? Military? Join the family business?
Obviously, he followed in the footsteps of his namesake, but not just as the owner. Ross IV started in the family business as a stylist.
“When Ross took over, I can speak as a stylist and say that we were glad that someone who stood behind the chair was going to run the business,” says Jessica Howard, who worked as a stylist at R&Co. for 16 years but had to step back due to health reasons. Ross IV kept her on staff in an administrative and marketing position.
“Our purpose is to create an environment where people can experience professional excellence and genuine love. If you do these two things, you’re good with me,” says Ross. “No other job can do what we do. It’s the power of our business. Updating someone’s style? We have a ton of power in our hands. I can make you look better than you’ve ever looked, and if you leave happy, I’m ecstatic. There’s a weird power of relationship between the hairdresser and client. I promote it.”
Can you get the latest styling trends at R&Co.? Of course you can. Updating education and techniques are crucial to the success of any salon. That isn't what makes Ross the Boss so special. When it boils down best practices, Ross has a list of must-haves that includes paid vacations and 401Ks.
“I want my stylists to be able to make it on their own. This is their career, and I want them to make great money and have health insurance,” says Ross. “I’ve been here over 25 years, and it’s rare in the salon space, particularly now that a lot of stylists are doing booth rents.”
“I don’t think people realize how successful you can be in the salon industry,” adds Jessica. “When you tell people you’re going to hair school, people question it. They underestimate that you can make a good living. I can speak for stylists and say a lot of us feel comfortable coming in here to talk about their personal lives or get advice or help. He isn’t ‘the boss’. He is part of this family.”
Truly, Ross wants all of his employees - more than 100 of them - to have good, productive, happy lives. He endeavors to spread joy wherever he goes, and if he makes people laugh along the way, then that’s even better. In the end, Ross doesn’t want his stylists to worry. He wants them all to love their jobs.
“I want my staff to live a better life. I want to spread the love and have more people come and be a part of it,” says Ross. “Depression is through the roof, and I’m desperate that my place is different, that you can come in and be safe and laugh. If you work here, you’ll make money and not worry. I want to make that a more popular option.”
Learn more about R&Co. at RosstheBoss.com.