Ep 64 - Starting Over with Cirocco Stout

After a successful and award-winning 15-year career as a lash extension artist in Tucson, Arizona, Cirocco Stout closed up shop and made the move to Phoenix. In a brand-new city, where she knew no one and had no connections, Cirocco found herself starting over. From finding a location to building clientele and social media, this lash expert shares all the ways she built up her business once again to start thriving in her new city!

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Author Bio: 

Cirocco Stout began her career in the lash industry in 2003 as one of the first lash artists in the country. Since then, she has become a master in lash texture and tape isolation as well as building long-lasting client relationships and providing amazing service. 

Cirocco was named one of the top 20 lash artists in Phoenix and was also featured as one of the original “Real Beauty Bosses.” In 2020 she launched her own company, Ciroc Co. Beauty, which offers lash training as well as high-quality lash products and tools for technicians. 

0:00:00.0 Speaker 1: This podcast is sponsored by LAMPROBE. LAMPROBE is a popular esthetic tool that enables skin care practitioners to rapidly treat a wide variety of common minor skin irregularities, or MSI. Red MSI, treated by LAMPROBE, include dilated capillaries and cherry angiomas, yellow MSI, cholesterol deposits and sebaceous hyperplasia. And brown MSI treated, include skin tags and more. LAMPROBE MSI treatments are non-evasive and deliver immediate results. LAMPROBE can empower your skin practice with these new and highly in-demand services. For more information, visit LAMPROBE.com, that's L-A-M-P-R-O-B-E.com, and follow LAMPROBE social media, @LAMPROBE. 


0:00:52.6 Speaker 2: You are listening to ASCP Esty Talk, where we share insider tips, industry resources and education for estheticians at every stage of the journey. Let's talk, because ASCP knows, it's all about you. 


0:01:07.2 Maggie Staszcuk: Hello, everyone, and welcome to ASCP Esty Talk. I'm your host today, Maggie Staszcuk. I have been a licensed esthetician since 2006, and I'm the Advanced Modality Specialist here, at Associated Skin Care Professionals, where no topic is off limits. We share all kinds of great information on this podcast, from ingredients and the science of the skin, to business and beauty diversity. We hope you come away, having learned more about your career, the industry, and maybe even life in general. 


0:01:35.4 MS: Today, we are joined by Cirocco Stout. Cirocco Stout began her career in the lash industry, in 2003, as one of the first lash artists in the country. Since then, she has become a master in lash texture and tape isolation, as well as building long-lasting client relationships, and providing amazing service. Cirocco was named one of the top 20 lash artists in Phoenix, and was also featured as one of the original Real Beauty Bosses. In 2020, she launched her own company Cirocco Beauty, which offers lash training as well as high quality lash products and tools for technicians. Please welcome Cirocco Stout to the podcast. Hello, Cirocco. 


0:02:18.2 Cirocco Stout: Hello, thank you for having me. 


0:02:20.0 MS: We're happy to have you on the show. You left behind a position, where you had over 15 years of experience, not to mention clients, to start a new opportunity at a new location. How did you know it was time for a fresh start?  


0:02:32.7 CS: It was an interesting process for me, 'cause a couple of years prior, I had moved from working from a big salon, to being a solo artist, and I thought that was going to be where I was gonna stay forever. And out of the blue, we got a phone call, that my husband's position was going to move us to a completely different city. So these relationships that I had built over all of these years, and maintained, I then had to release them to other technicians and start completely over, in a new city, not knowing anyone, and realising that it wasn't the same, being in one city for over a decade, with built client relationships, into this new city that I didn't know anything about. But we were excited to do it. I really had no idea what was going to be in my future, because we were so focused on his move, that I knew that I could re-do everything I was doing in Tucson, into Phoenix. And I didn't know what that was going to look like, especially because I had no relationships with any other technicians or clientele there. 


0:03:51.5 MS: It can be scary. That sounds like a lot of anxiety. 


0:03:53.3 CS: It absolutely was. I actually took a year off, and during that time, that's when I realised that I had really got myself stuck in a rut of social media anxiety, and judging myself, and having self-doubt, and underestimating what I actually knew. And so, once I was ready to start working again, with clients, I needed to figure out working with social media and using that to help find clients and locations, and learning my city, and not being so overwhelmed with all of these other thoughts that kept crossing my mind, and just start looking for clients, and how do I do that. And once I found my location, things started moving, and it was just stepping out of my front door, to try to figure out, "How do I do this?" That started everything else, and me figuring out what balance I wanted in my life, because that was my number one priority, was balanced. 


0:05:00.4 MS: What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome the fear of starting over?  


0:05:03.7 CS: So that's always been... I'm extremely shy. So when I'm one-on-one with my client, no one really knows that, and I forgot that I was shy, because I've surrounded myself with people who I was comfortable with. Once I had to go out on my own again, in this new city, what I needed to do was, find a location that I wanted to work at, where were the clients that I needed to find, and how do I meet new people. So once I started, I legitimately was running, and I ran in the area that I lived and I knew that I wanted to work close to home, because I'm also a mom. So I didn't wanna be too far from my children in a new city. So once I started experiencing the different areas of my community, I started finding that I was really enjoying specific locations. And for me, I lived in Phoenix, so I was close to ASU, no avenue, and there was a tiny little salon that I had actually reached out to multiple times, and I had never heard back, just to see if they had any openings for technicians to work in. Because I was going into a new city, I knew I didn't wanna work completely solo in a room by myself, without anyone around, because how was I going to meet anyone?  


0:06:26.1 CS: One day, many months later, I got a response back from the woman who rented those rooms, and she said that she was actually really sorry, she never saw my messages, but she did have a beautiful room available. And I went later that evening, to take a look at the room, and it was in this 1930s building that was converted from a house, into a salon. There were several technicians that had worked there, none of them doing lash extensions. So in my brain, I'm thinking, "This is a perfect way to, one, meet people and start utilising their clientele as my clientele." I ended up going home with pure excitement, telling my husband about this. I put my deposit down and I started putting the room together a couple of days later. And during that time, I really had to figure out how to get clients, 'cause without clients, no matter how long you've been in any industry, without clients, you do not have a business. So I knew that going from having completely full books, with a wait list, to zero, wasn't going to help me at all, in this new city. So how was I gonna get back there?  


0:07:40.3 CS: And I really had to go back to how I started at the very beginning of my journey, as a new technician, not knowing anything, and it was building relationships. So I started building my relationships with those technicians around the surrounding salon, and their clients, just introducing myself. So once I started meeting people, there were hesitations, of course, but it was really funny because I never really thought that someone with my type of experience would have clients hesitant to see me, because I was so used to having clients waiting to see me, that it was a new experience, to have people hesitant to see me because I was new. So I figured, "Okay, you need to have a website. People wanna know who you are, 'cause everyone's doing these services. How do I sell myself?" 


0:08:34.4 CS: So I also started giving a lot of free services during the time I wasn't doing anything, and I know, I've heard a lot of technicians say, "Well, I'm worth $100 an hour," but if you don't have clients, you're actually worth zero. So if I'm not making any money during these hours, I wanted to utilise it and start building these relationships and getting my work out there. As soon as I would start touching these new clients of mine, they realised that I wasn't just the new kid on the block. I knew everything that I was telling them that I knew, as soon as I had them in my room. So once I started a couple of new relationships and really, it only took a few clients, to build my word of mouth with new other clients. Because they were gonna share with their friends and family. So that free service that I gave to that one person, gave me three paying clients. Once I started doing the math on paper, I realised that my mortgage was only $1500. How was I going to pay that mortgage with new clients? How many clients did I really need to do? And if I had clients paying $80 for a fill, and in theory, maybe tipping me $15 to $95 for that session, I only needed four clients, booking twice a month. 


0:10:03.8 CS: So it went from needing, well, I thought 50 clients, down to 15, down to 8, down to four, booking and tipping. So I realised I really didn't need a 100 clients to fill my books, it was just a very small number. So that got me really excited, because I think I overwhelmed myself with the information that I was feeding myself. So know your numbers on what you're really needing. When we look at numbers, and if we had 40 clients in a month, and we're servicing them between one and two times a month, that's a lot of hours in a month, that you're using on clients. That dollar average goes up drastically. And so, you can really make a great living, without servicing these huge numbers that we think that we need to do, to, in my opinion, social media numbers of likes. I really find that to be a correlation of what we think we need to be successful, financially, versus what we are, successful in social media. They're totally different, but we've merged these two things as success. And for me, my success comes being able to pay the bills and spend time with my family. So I needed to know what that balance was, and I think everyone's balance is completely different on where they wanna spend those hours and what they need to make and how they do it. 


0:11:32.2 CS: So once I figured out how to start building relationships with people in my surrounding area, I realised too, I did not need to find people in other cities, on social media, to make me popular in my current city. I needed to find the local businesses in my surrounding communities and neighborhoods, that all live in a small distance between a mile and three miles, around my business, to make me successful. And it didn't take much time at all, for my books to start filling up very, very quickly. It was probably about two to three months for me to be booked solid, and you have to absolutely pre-book your clients. Once someone loves you, go ahead and pre-book them for the rest of the year, and all that takes is, confidence in showing them how to pre-book and taking any of the problems that come with pre-booking, which is, "Well, what if I go on vacation?" or, "Oh, I don't know if I'm gonna be here during that time." Take that issue away from that client and say, "If these things come up, let's say you go on vacation, let's say I go on a vacation. Don't worry about a thing. I'll take care of that for you." 


0:12:53.2 MS: What is the best way to handle your current client list, when you are moving to new opportunities, another city, or you're switching career paths?  


0:13:04.1 CS: I built, and I had really, and have really great relationships with fellow technicians. I think there is a stigma out there, that you can't be friends with fellow technicians that do exactly the same thing as you. And that's simply not true. I hope that technicians get out of the mentality that there's not enough clients to go around, because once you get away from that, you'll realise that there are plenty of clients to go around. In fact, there's too many clients to go around. And so, once you get that away and get away from that negative thought, you can become great friends with technicians that may be equal as you, maybe better than you, and maybe just different than you. So I started building relationships with technicians, all of the years that I have ever worked. So when I left, I knew the personalities of my clients and I also knew the personalities and the skill set of technicians, and I truly tried to match them up. 


0:14:11.3 CS: It was kind of like, "How do I pick the perfect personality and their perfect style and match it together?" Because again, this goes back to trust. I didn't want my clients to think that I'm just sending them to anyone. I really wanted them to know I care, "This is why I'm sending you to this particular person. Yes, you're probably gonna have to drive three extra miles, but it's worth it. Let me tell you why." Or, "Okay, I'm gonna have you try these two people. This is the reason why I'm having you try this person, and this is the reason why I'm having you try this person. See who you mesh with, fast." And then I also let those technicians who I sent all of these clients to, "Okay, this is what you need to know about this client. Her shoulder hurts, make sure to have a towel on the bed when you come in." And what I have found, that has served me well by doing all of that stuff, one, I didn't ask for any of those technicians to give me anything in return. It was just like, "You know what? Here you go. I love these people. I'm really sad that I have to go, but I hope they are with you for 15 years also." 


0:15:24.6 CS: So while I've been up in Phoenix, it's been really interesting, because when clients leave Tucson, to travel through Phoenix, they call me if I have room for them to get their lashes done, because I've built that trust and I still have relationships with a lot of them. Clients are more than just clients. They end up being kind of a part of your friends and family group. So then I would also have those clients recommend their family and friends, who live in my city, of word of mouth, to see me as their technician now. And then also with technicians, they're so thankful that their books are full, and I gifted them these amazing clients, that I'm recommended by them, to technicians who, or I'm sorry, clients that move to my city or friends and family that they also know. So I feel like it's karma, and it was just matching them up with their perfect match. 


0:16:25.4 CS: And there are often times, that it's not always the perfect fit for whatever reason, personality or the style. And technicians and clients have still reached out, even years later, it's been three years, in saying, "Hey, I just moved across town. Is there anyone else that you know? I really like this person, but I need someone else, and I really trust you." And I think that's the ultimate compliment. 


0:16:52.9 MS: I think that's such a good lesson. And you said it, there is plenty to go around. Networking with your community is so important, and it has bettered your career, as opposed to the opposite of that, and breeding competition. How do you start fresh, at a new location or in a new city, and build a clientele again? You really talked about that, and you mentioned that it was about building word of mouth. But were there other things you did, or tips or tricks that you have, for people listening in?  


0:17:24.9 CS: So we're gonna touch base on social media a little bit, on this. So I do have a totally different take on social media, but in these regards for social media, I went back to my old account, I did not delete anything, but anything that was generic photos of... And I also got permission from all of my clients, to be able to use their photos on my social media, which I wanna stress, if you're gonna use it, like get permission. But then I was able to change a lot of the locations, from Tucson base, to a Phoenix base. So even though I didn't technically see those clients in Phoenix, that was still my hands on their eyes. So when I moved to Phoenix, I went through a lot of my old photos, and I redid hashtags. So instead of Tucson lashes, I did Tempe lashes. I also went through and changed my location on a lot of my photos. So even though the photos were really, really old, I was able to change my locations. So when new clients were looking for me, I had a plethora of images on the social media platform. 


0:18:37.9 CS: In addition to that, any of my new posts, I reached out to local businesses, and this was a really great way for me to meet people, is, I was able to tag local businesses and work with local businesses, and use their clientele as an introduction to my business, like, "Hey, I'm new in this area." One thing that I used was, I printed up addresses and the businesses, literally a half a mile from my location, and I hand walked my business cards, so you need business cards, and then my website address and my menu to these local businesses saying, "Hey, if you need a lunch break, lash fill, or a brow wax, or a lip wax, or a bikini, I got you. I'm efficient with my time. I'm only a half a mile away. So call me up, we can get you in." And that worked really, really well for little spots that I needed during the day. 


0:19:44.9 CS: And I have really, really limited hours. I work now, only from 9:30 till 3:00, and I only... Well, I should say, I mostly have working women. If anyone saw my hours, they would say, "You can't even service a working woman during those hours." But I have very limited time, and working women still take time to see me during their lunch break. And that's what I am. I'm a lunch break technician for them. 


0:20:16.2 MS: I love that. A lunch break technician, that's awesome. 


0:20:20.0 CS: It's all about time and money for them, so you need to be priced well, for your area, and don't undercut yourself. You have worked so hard for everything that you've put into yourself, into your business, in your craft, don't lower your prices to find the wrong clientele. People will pay those prices. But what makes you different? And that was another thing is, I had to tell people why they wanted to see me. And if you have never looked yourself in the mirror and said to yourself why you're so great, you should do it, because it is extremely hard. 


0:21:03.2 CS: So when you're trying to do that to other people, it's even harder. So figure out why you are so great, because people wanna know why they should see you, and it's really important for you to know that about yourself. What is it that you're gonna offer, that's a little bit different? I know that when my clients come see me, I'm going to put them in their hectic day at work, they're gonna come into my room, and as soon as I put my hands on them, they're gonna feel calmness and peace. Whether they fall asleep or just vent, they're gonna feel amazing when they get up, but they're also gonna look fantastic. 


0:21:45.5 MS: Cirocco is so motivating. Such great points you're making here, and it has been a pleasure chatting with you today. And thank you for sharing your expertise with all of us. Tell us where we can find you and learn more about everything you're doing. 


0:21:58.3 CS: Oh my gosh. Absolutely. You can find me at ciroccobeauty.com. You can also find me on Instagram, @CiroccoBeauty. And go ahead and follow me. If any technician has any questions, I'd love to answer that. I have talked to so many technicians on the phone, text messages, DMs, all of that. I would love to hear from them. 


0:22:22.8 MS: Thank you for sharing your expertise with us. And thank you, everyone, for listening in. Have a great day, and we'll talk with you next time. 


0:22:30.4 Speaker 2: Thanks for joining us today. If you like what you hear and you want more, subscribe. If you wanna belong to the only all-inclusive Association for Estheticians, that includes professional liability insurance, education, industry insights and an opportunity to spotlight your sick skills, join, at ascpskincare.com, only 259 per year, for all this goodness. ASCP knows, it's all about you.

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