Investing In Herself For a Successful Business

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Photo by Wezz De La Rosa
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By Christina Fernández-Morrow, Hola Iowa

When Karla Hauptly left Chihuahua City, Mexico at nineteen, she planned to get an education in Iowa and return to her home state. She didn’t count on falling in love, getting married and starting a family. When a friend invited her to open a salon with her, Hauptly was intrigued so she enrolled at the American College of Hairstyling. “It’s hard to decide what you want to do in life when you’re 17, I was 25, so I was more open to ideas.”  Eleven months later she graduated but didn’t feel ready to start her own salon. Instead, she took a job at a salon on Des Moines’ south side. Haircutting came easy to Hauptly but she found that she really loved the science behind hair coloring. “I get to create and be more artistic,” she says. She learned quickly and a year later she became the salon manager. Seven years later when South Ridge Mall closed, Hauptly decided to open her own salon. Although she had built a large clientele, she didn’t want to limit herself to the southside. “You can’t think about who is going to follow you, you have to think about what is best for the business.” Many of her clients followed her to Clive, where she found a suite in a studio dedicated to stylists and beauty services. Starting her business before social media was a reliable marketing tool, she relied on word of mouth to grow. Her friends helped by writing reviews, a few wrote in Spanish, and it attracted more Latinos. There weren’t many bilingual hairstylists back then, and even today she is the only bilingual stylist of the 32 at the studio. “The Latino community has really embraced me,” says Hauptly. She is thankful for the loyalty of her clients, but she doesn’t let that make her complacent.

Photo by Wezz De La Rosa

When the salon closed during the 2020 lockdown, Hauptly used that time to improve herself as a business owner. “The pandemic either forced you to be better or broke you. That’s when I got a business coach. I wanted to be prepared. I’m not a techy person, but I learned how to have a digital business.” She also used those 13 weeks to learn more about bookkeeping and tax strategies. “You have to know about money, what comes in and goes out. You can’t romanticize [being a business owner]. I dream big but I’m realistic about the numbers because you’re the CEO, CFO, talent, everything so invest in yourself.” Hauptly regularly takes online classes to stay up-to-date on the latest products, treatments, and techniques associated with hair coloring. Those classes aren’t cheap, but they’re necessary to provide the quality Hauptly is known for. Whether her clients have been with her since the beginning, or they just found her, she spends time educating them on how to best care for their new cut and color. “The hair is important, but it’s so much more. Because it’s a private space, just me and the client, we can talk. Many of them open up to me and call it ‘hairapy’ because we start talking about hair and end up talking about their life.” That’s how Hauptly learned about Dress for Success, an organization where she volunteers and has met clients and other business owners. Getting out more has helped her grow her network, which has positively impacted her business. “Invest in yourself,” says Hauptly. “Invest your time and money in classes, groups, coaching because there’s always room to grow in your business.” 

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