THE PARLOUR is a Colorado chain of salons stretching between Fort Collins, Boulder and Denver.

Led by Gene Cahill, it was started in Fort Collins in 1998 to fill a perceived gap in excellent, personal salon services.

That’s what you’ll see from the outside.

Far more fascinating to me is the story of what this company looks like on the inside.  I had the opportunity to speak with Rachel Rota recently, a partner in the company, leader in the Fort Collins location, and stylist herself.

This shop houses about ten independent styling professionals, with a huge diversity of approaches and backgrounds.  This is fairly unique in an industry where standardization drives an image of sameness.

It’s not just about a diversity in their team.  They also have the freedom to develop unique approaches in each location, driving success in the local market and for specific clientele.

What keeps this flexibility from tearing the company apart?  That’s where the secret sauce comes in.

Gene is personally connected with everyone in the company.  Rachel told me that “even though he’s not in our shop every day, it seems like he is,” because he’s so readily available.

Gene takes personal ownership for the extensive “Assistantship” (apprentice) program where they develop and select those who best align with The Parlour’s values.

I captured a photo of them here, what they call their “Seven Habits.”  As you can see, these are powerful and sustaining.

This has served the company extraordinarily well, attracting great people, respecting their individuality, nurturing their development, and retaining them in a great environment.

I’ve talked with a lot of hairdressers who have left larger organizations in order to start their own business.  They tend to do this when they feel overly pressured, constrained, and unappreciated.

Not one of them I’ve spoken with has left The Parlour.  That’s an amazing testimonial.

So what’s next?  Well, continued growth.  More customers in the chairs, more stylists, extended hours.  But the top priority is to keep this culture alive and vibrant.

Because that’s what makes this all so worthwhile.