On a grey morning, we entered the Spoke and Weal salon in Soho to take some photos of the co-owner, Christine Thompson. The bright white setting contrasted nicely with her very New York all-black outfit and really led her red lips to pop. She was very open to answer all of our questions with a smile, and she really glowed when we asked her about this contraption that was over each chair in the salon. She told us that she hated when the cables would always get tangled around the chair while blowdrying someones hair, so her and her husband invented it. We were in awe and agreed it should be trademarked because it is quite brilliant! Read below for find more insight on the competitiveness of owning a salon, being a colorist, and how she balances work and family life.
How did you start Spoke & Weal?
Jon (Reyman – other Spoke & Weal co-owner) and I have worked NYFW together for years. We had a good synergy and built a pretty wonderful team and community—our time together in NYC felt good. Jon has always wanted to start a salon venture, but it was never the right time. His energy in 2013 reignited my passion for the industry and our craft. I had been running my salons in San Luis Obispo for a long time and being asked to partner with Jon gave me a fresh perspective and passion. It was really terrific timing. Once we started talking, the business starting manifesting. Jon Reyman is not a talker—he’s always making it happen.
What led you to do color?
I have always loved color. I was painting and drawing as a kid. I loved multi colored yarn and makeup. Color brought me to life.
How many kids do you have and where do you live? Why did you choose that neighborhood?
I have 3 kids and live in San Luis Obispo, CA. My house is in the country. San Luis Obispo is where my family is from; I settled there because I liked having my dad and mom involved in my children’s lives. I moved from Los Angeles to SLO to be closer to them.
How competitive is it to become one of the best colorists out there?
It’s very competitive. There are tons of very, very talented artists in the hair color community; and as many as there are greats, there are total hacks. One thing I have committed myself to is training and refining. I stayed curious. I never let “being great” keep me from being in a learners mind.
Your husband is a competitive racer and motorcycle builder, that is a pretty badass. How do you manage both working busy careers and your kids?
Brian is retired from racing. I scaled back my career when the kids were little and he was racing. He scaled back (naturally with age) and allowed for me to push myself more. How do we manage? I have been super busy the last couple years… Brian has been such a support of the venture—he’s hot-wired our salons, driven casework cross-country, bent mental, and saved the day for us a number of times. To me, in a good relationship you want to support what makes the each-other happy. Brian has been a saint. I make sure he knows he’s appreciated.
Why do you think your business has been successful?
Hard work. Jon and I are relentless. Neither of us give up easy. We face challenges and struggle with determination and perseverance. Some people would call it grit… We couldn’t have come this far if we didn’t work our butts off. More importantly, we have a team of the most talented and committed stylists around us. We would be no where without our team working alongside us shoulder to shoulder.
What do you wish you knew 1 year in and 5 years in to your business?
I wish I knew more business and tax information. I didn’t work to understand everything in my first few years. It costs a lot to employ people and administrate. I didn’t engage in the numbers admin. Although I moved with the right intention, there was technical parts of the business I really didn’t understand and it cost me. Owning a small business and growing it takes you on a major learning curve.
What’s your favorite thing about being a boss? Least favorite thing?
My favorite ….watching an artist grow from a novice to an accomplished stylist and earn a living is very satisfying. I also get to employ a lot of moms that are not full time, but have the opportunity to earn and express themselves creatively. Our industry is somewhat flexible. Its satisfying to be a provider!
What advice do you give to people who are looking to get into the beauty business?
Train with pros. Align yourself with the right organization and the right mentors. Find a place to work early on that values and provides continued education.
How has that industry changed over the past 15/20 years?
It’s a totally different game now. 20 years ago, a phonebook ad was important. Now, a selfie is…Yelp! is. One thing that has stayed as true as the day we started is our clients are our champions. Our number one referral is word of mouth.
Any life hacks/time saving hacks that work really well for your family?
I work in some spectacular cities and I get to take my kids with me on work trips which is a work/life integration hack! They are stoked, and I carve out the time to explore the new places with them.
What words do you live by or quotes do you love that speak to your soul?
Actions speak louder than words. I have a strong focus on the actions I take and the actions those around me take. They tell the story.
Your daughter has taken such an interest in hair, how have you nurtured this curiosity?
I expose her to the beauty industry, but I am careful to let her explore on her own. I do not direct her. I encourage her to explore and have fun.
PS: if you’re looking into getting a new LOOK, Color Queen Christine Thompson has offered heymama readers 20% off any service. Just mention heymama when your book your appointment 😉 We can’t wait to see how you take advantage of this deal!