Client Spotlight: Rachel Featherston, Parlor Salon

As leaders we are only as good as the people we choose to work with. For Mahri Jones, owner of Parlor Salon in Richmond, VA, this couldn’t be truer than in her choice to hire Rachel Featherston. Joining the team as a manager and supporting the operation from the front desk was a launch point for Rachel. Since then she has grown and been promoted into Director of Operations. As a business coach I rarely come across a salon manager as organized, systematic and committed to the culture as Rachel. She embodies the values you would look for in the role in energy, spirit and work, demonstrating a passion to learn and take on tasks that are above and beyond her pay grade.

When asked to share about the difference Rachel makes for her company Mahri was quick to write, “In late 2013 I began feeling it was time to open my own vision of a business. Parlor. In hindsight, there is only 1 person I “knew” I wanted with me – Rachel Featherston. I’d been working with her about 18mos. and saw traits I had grown to admire. Her sincere desire to do a good job, servant’s heart, quick thinking, integrity, support of myself, and empathy to others made her an easy choice. I could never have known I’d actually get to watch her completely blossom into one of the most incredible, kick ass business women in Richmond. As Parlor’s Director if Operations she is my right hand in directing the actual business of Parlor. A true Renaissance woman. She assists the team in understanding THEIR business, supports community outreach (we tend to focus on the Arts, Animals, Women + Children, Equal Rights, Addiction/Mental Health, and Education initiatives). This is while also supporting our beloved industry + a continuous educational working environment while instilling and leading by example the culture of Parlor. She does this all while managing being a doting wife and “Momma” to her 3 beloved pups (Lola, Okie, + Roscoe🐾). 

Watching her take on her roll with such passion and ferocity has enabled me to push myself more in my own growth as Parlor’s Owner. We expect mistakes to come, show mercy on them as we can, and execute resolve in support, not shame. I am always aware of intent with the team, and Rachel is excellent at seeing all perspectives. Rachel’s presence was first and foremost in 2013 when my vision started becoming a reality, it remains the same in 2018. Be grateful for those who choose to support your dreams. They deserve a different respect – she has mine forever. My “Ride or Die”.

I caught up with Rachel to get her take on her journey and asked her to offer some thoughts on what it takes to lead a successful salon business


Steve Gomez (SG): How long have you been in the industry?

Rachel Featherston (RF): On and off, about 11 years.

(SG): What had you choose to work at Parlor Salon?

(RF): It wasn’t as much me choosing to work at Parlor as it was choosing to help build it. Choosing to be a part of a vision of someone I admire and help them execute it

(SG): What was your initial position?

(RF): Manager

(SG): What is your positon now?

(RF): Director of Operations

(SG): What do you love about your role?

(RF): Employing my strengths in structure, organization, and adaptability in an artistic, service-based environment. Not being the face of the business but being the backbone.

(SG): How long did it take to acclimate into your role and how did it evolve into becoming a manager?

(RF): Not long at all. My mother was in the military and pretty much raised my sister and me on her own. And we moved A LOT. I grew up knowing that strong work ethic, hustle, quick-thinking, multi-tasking, and versatility are universally needed, no matter what you want to do/who you want to become. I’ve applied those traits in every job I’ve had and was always promoted quickly. So, when Parlor was getting started, I knew that I wanted to become more than a Manager and utilized the same attributes to build trust and respect between Mahri and me. I treat Parlor as my own and it shows.

(SG): What advice would you give a salon about to bring in a new front desk team member?

(RF): Trust your gut. Someone can be the perfect fit on paper, but once you interact with them and feel their energy, they could be the worst person for your business. Also, ALWAYS have a trial day.

(SG): Based on your experience what are the common pitfalls a salon would have in teaching someone to be great in their role? In essence, how could they shorten the learning curve?

(RF): Making assumptions: What is common sense to one person is not to another. How you learn and absorb knowledge is not how everyone else does. It is your role as a leader to take the time and care to help every employee grow to their full potential.

(SG): What makes a front desk team member well rounded? How can they go above and beyond in their position?

(RF): True multi-tasking. Having an eye & ear on everything at all times.

Really getting to know the clientele. It is so important, not only on a business level but on a human one, that people feel cared about. I know that it’s what makes Parlor different than most salons; people feel our warmth and energy and come back for it. They know that once they walk through the door, they will be taken care of.

(SG): You have recently been promoted to Manager of the salon. What did you have to work on to grow as a leader in order to become a manager?

(RF): For sure, my confidence, not only in my work but me as a woman. I never realized how low it was until I began working on building it and really had to work on using my voice.

Also, my ability to trust in Mahri. It had happened too many times where I have worked in other places and been burned by power-tripping Management. With Mahri, I now know without a doubt she has by back and vice versa.

(SG): You manage many intricate tasks for Mahri, your owner, such as inventory tracking and ordering, sales tracking, supporting with financial tracking, etc. Not many front desk team members grow into these tasks. Based on your experience, how can an owner and their front desk team work with each other to help these type of tasks be taken on?

(RF): It really comes back to trust, dedication, and seeing the big picture. Having people on your team that can see your vision, want to help you build it, and stick by it when it becomes bigger than you. I said it before: to me, Parlor is mine. I’ve been here since day one and have put my all into ensuring that it and everyone that is a part of it succeeds. Mahri saw that and trusted in that.

(SG): Any final words of advice for a front desk team member to help them grow in their role?

(RF): It’s cheesy but true, be true to you. It doesn’t matter how hard you work or how much you accomplish, if you’re not being honest to yourself, are you really growing?

If you live in the Richmond, VA area or ever find yourself nearby, stop in Parlor Salon and meet Rachel, Mahri and a pretty amazing team of artists that serve their community with passion while representing all that’s great about our industry!

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