CoCo Chanel once said, “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” Whether it’s a drastic change or a subtle update, having a great haircut, color, or style invokes feelings of confidence, and confidence is what helps motivate people to make changes in their lives. What makes Seven Salon different is that they aren’t just changing their clients’ lives, they are changing the lives of the stylists, the industry, and the entire Omaha community.
Salon owners Shannon Bingham and Nikki Okun recently celebrated 15 years as business partners. Both were working at a small local salon when they realized they shared a dream of opening their own salon and decided to join forces. “We knew we had more to give,” Bingham said. “We wanted to inspire and grow other stylists in a team-based environment.”
Frustrated by the lack of confidence from lenders, the women used their own money—Bingham leveraged her home—to purchase an existing salon in Rockbrook Village and later the current location, which they’ve since renovated twice. The name Seven Salon stems from the owners’ strong faith and the significance the number seven plays in religious texts. And the mission statement has remained the same since day one: “A place where creativity and inspiration can thrive, driven by a desire to impact the community.”
Few employee-based salons still exist, but Seven owes its longevity to understanding and having survived ups and downs in the industry, being diligent and following their business plan, and ensuring their employees are receiving the education necessary to stay current and provide their customers with the very best. “We’re constantly evolving, making sure we have expertise in all areas,” Bingham said. They also rely on one another, operating more as a family than employer/employees, and Bingham and Okun have clear roles, allowing each other to work their strengths.
Stacey Anderson has been a stylist for more than 30 years and said she has been most impressed with the continued education that Seven affords her. “Our industry changes every day, so the way they help us keep up with education is remarkable. I’ve never experienced anything like it.” Bingham is a National Educator for the product manufacturer TIGI (the makers of the Bed Head line of hair products) and has traveled the country training stylists. She also has future plans to develop an education team that can share their knowledge with other industry professionals in an effort to upgrade the industry as a whole.
Additionally, the salon brings educators in to train the whole staff on a monthly basis and occasionally they travel as a team to training classes. “It’s a bit of extra work to train stylists right out of school, so most salons don’t have the capability or don’t offer a program,” Bingham said. “But we believe in investing in our employees and want people to experience the difference when a stylist has worked so hard on becoming the best they can be.”
That commitment to education goes well beyond Seven Salon’s employees. Bingham recently applied for a seat on the State Board of Cosmetology. She also spoke in front of the committee for Nebraska Legislative bill LB343, which would change the credentialing and regulation of cosmetology and nail technology, among others. “We didn’t want to lower the number of hours required for cosmetology school, because we want to maintain our high level of excellence,” she said. “Less hours educating students could mean lower quality services in the long run.”
In fact, Seven Salon offers more than just hair services. They also offer pedicures, manicures, extensions, air brush tanning, waxing, facials, and makeup applications. And services are offered for men, women, and children. Bingham and Okun are also passionate about providing services to benefit others in the community. They’ve been involved in projects such as raising money for the Nebraska Children’s Home Society and other various charities, spearheading several fundraisers including Hair for Haiti, and are a donation salon for charity Children With Hair Loss. They’ve also recently been named as an official sponsor for the Miss Nebraska Outstanding Teen Scholarship Program, which Bingham said helps support young women and build their confidence. It’s all a part of how Seven Salon is changing lives one haircut at a time.