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From Commission to Booth Rental: Navigating Salon Ownership with Lee Spencer

In the latest episode of Stylist Soul Tribe Conversations, I had the pleasure of speaking with Lee Spencer, founder of Startup Stylists and a highly experienced professional in the beauty industry. With over 40 years of experience and 25 years specializing in the booth rental salon model, Lee offers a wealth of knowledge that can benefit both new and seasoned salon owners. In our conversation, we delved into her journey, the challenges she faced, and the invaluable lessons she learned along the way.


Lee Spencer’s Journey: From Stylist to Salon Owner

Lee’s story is one of resilience and passion. She began her career in cosmetology right after high school, overcoming the challenges of ADD and finding her niche in the beauty industry. Her journey into booth rental started in the 90s when she encountered a salon that rented out stations. This experience laid the foundation for her future success as a booth rental salon owner.


Transitioning to Booth Rental: The Benefits and Challenges

Lee’s transition from a commission model to a booth rental model was driven by necessity and opportunity. She initially took over a salon with week-to-week leases, which presented significant risks. Recognizing the importance of stability, Lee negotiated longer leases and created a structured, professional environment that benefited both her and her stylists. Her approach to booth rental emphasizes the importance of communication, professionalism, and mutual support among stylists.


The Importance of Financial Planning and Leases

One of the key takeaways from our conversation was the importance of financial planning and understanding leases. Lee shared her experiences of facing significant financial challenges, including unexpected health issues that impacted her ability to work. These experiences underscored the need for a financial cushion and meticulous planning.

Lee also highlighted the importance of negotiating leases. Clear terms for hours of operation, security, and exit plans are crucial for both salon owners and stylists. Understanding and negotiating these terms can prevent future conflicts and ensure a smooth operation.


Creating a Positive Salon Culture

Lee’s success is also attributed to the positive culture she cultivated in her salon. By treating her stylists as independent business owners while fostering a supportive environment, she created a salon where everyone could thrive. Her approach balances independence with a sense of community, ensuring that stylists feel both empowered and supported.


Coaching and Future Plans

Today, Lee continues to do what she loves, splitting her time between coaching and working as a stylist. Her passion for helping others succeed is evident in her one-on-one coaching sessions, where she guides stylists and salon owners through the intricacies of the business. From understanding leases to managing finances and creating a thriving salon culture, Lee’s coaching covers all aspects of salon ownership.



Lee’s journey is a testament to the power of resilience, strategic planning, and the importance of community in the beauty industry. Whether you’re a new stylist considering independence or a seasoned salon owner looking to refine your business model, Lee’s insights can help you navigate the challenges and achieve success.


If you haven’t already, I highly recommend listening to the full episode of Stylist Soul Tribe Conversations with Lee Spencer. Her wisdom and experience offer invaluable lessons for anyone in the beauty industry.


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Join the Conversation: Share your thoughts on this episode on social media using #StylistSoulTribeConversations. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast for more inspiring stories and practical advice.




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