Today’s special guest is none other than CEO of Masters of Balayage and the host of The Hairpreneur Show Podcast, Ryan Weeden! Ryan has an incredible story, so much so that it’s hard to know where to begin. After moving to New York to pursue acting, Ryan was living in Brooklyn when tragedy struck on 9/11. From then, he started hustling at a corporate salon to collecting cans to make ends meet, to working as a real estate agent, and building up a clientele on Yelp. Ryan’s success story is filled with lots of old-fashioned sweat and nose-to-the-grindstone hard work. He’s now the CEO of Masters of Balayage where he manages a team of 10 employees. He’s also a Wella Global Ambassador and teaches his balayage techniques online to a worldwide community of avid hairstylists. Learn all about Ryan’s amazing story here.
For more, visit @ambitionforbreakfast on Instagram and editour.us!
Listen to the podcast here:
Entrepreneurship: Building Your Empire With Special Guest Ryan Weeden
Entrepreneur And CEO Of Masters Of Balayage Ryan Weeden Sheds Light On How He Found His Passion As A Hairstylist After Business Ventures In Acting, Real Estate, And Hairdressing
We are so excited for our guest. We have Ryan Weeden in the house. We’re excited to have him.
A man who needs no introduction. A podcaster himself, a CEO, a boss in the beauty industry. Ryan, thank you so much for taking the time to be here with us.
You got it. I love any opportunity to get on a show and especially Ambition for Breakfast, that’s the title. I am here.
Somebody asked me, “Who thought of Ambition for Breakfast?” I’m like, “It’s Karen. Karen is a genius.”
It’s a great title.
The thing about us being a duo is we have complementary skills. Breanna has sparks of creativity all day that I’m like, “I would never have thought of that.”
We’re so excited because it’s very unique. We have Ryan who is one of our Editour influencers and an amazing business partner for our company. He is also a friend, a boss and an inspiration to the entire industry. We just want to get started from the top level of where you got started and how you became a hairstylist. We know your story but we want our readers to know your story too.
It’s funny. I’ve told this story many times and it’s a little bit different every time I tell it. I’m like, “How can I shorten this story and just get to the juicy parts of it?” Being a hairdresser, it’s not something I ever wanted to do or thought I would do or I’d never even considered it. I wanted to be an actor ever since I can remember when I was young. I was born in the ‘70s but I grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s. During that time, entrepreneurial-ism wasn’t a thing you did. There were people that were entrepreneurs and they made a lot of money but it wasn’t a sought-after profession. You either were pushed to be a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, something that’s going to give you a steady paycheck, something that is going to give you some retirement benefits in the future.
That was like the goal. You go to school. You’d go to extra school and you get some diploma that’s going to give you an automatic start with a big salary or at least a salary. Whereas entrepreneurial-ism, you had your few success stories here and there but most of the time it was like, “When are you going to get a real job?” It wasn’t something that people shot for. I did go to college and I took a bunch of science classes thinking that, “I’m following the doctor route. I’m going to take anatomy. I’m going to take all these terrible, boring classes that didn’t fit who I am as a person at all.” I felt like that’s what I had to do.
I got to my senior year, not anywhere near becoming a doctor, I probably would have had to stay there for a couple more years in order to finish the classes I need to finish. I decided this is not my path. I want to be an actor. I’ve been wanting to be an actor forever and I just never took the steps because I was afraid to get in front of a camera. I was afraid to put myself out there and now I had this epiphany that this is the direction I need to go in. I changed my major in my senior year. My parents had pretty much a heart attack and I’m like, “I’m not going to be a doctor anymore. I’m going to be an actor. I’m changing my major to Dramatic Arts. Are you cool with that?” After they were like, “No, I’m not cool with that.”
They finally came around like, “Do what you’ve got to do, whatever. We support you. We’re not going to give you any more money but we support you.” I changed my major to Dramatic Arts, got an Acting degree, took outside acting classes. I moved to New York City right after college to be a full-fledged actor, which means when you’re starting out as acting, you’re a full-fledged server, a restaurant worker, a bartender, whatever you can do to do auditions and whatnot on the side and that’s what I was doing. Although I was enjoying the journey, I wasn’t a good actor. I was a very new actor. I didn’t have years of experience behind me. I was trying to figure things out and I wasn’t tapped into my authentic self, which is I bet I could crush it on screen. Now I am in a different way.
Back then, I was still this shy kid that had these big aspirations but didn’t have what it took. I didn’t have the experience acting. I didn’t have any dancing ability and I still really don’t. I’ll dance, I’m terrible. Singing, I can carry a tune now but I’m still not good enough to sing in a play. Back then you needed to at least be able to act, dance and move. Singing, you didn’t necessarily have to but I’m in New York and almost every single play in New York requires singing. As much as I love New York and as much as I love acting, I saw a lot of my friends at the time that were of different ages. Some of them were considerably older than me because actors grouped together.
Don’t give up, keep trying new things, find one that inspires you, and give it a go.
They hang out together, they’re all doing the same thing. They’re all doing weekly auditions. They’re all trying to get ahead, get that big break while they’re waiting tables. I was looking ahead at my life and I didn’t like what I saw. I didn’t want to be a struggling artist forever. I didn’t care that much about acting to commit my entire life, to just doing the craft. I’m like, “I want to make some money. I want to have a family. I want to have a comfortable lifestyle eventually and this is not the path for me. I don’t see any big breaks coming.”
Shortly after I was there during September 11th, that was a big eye-opener for me and of course for the world for a lot of reasons. For me too, that moment when I was there for 9/11 and witnessed the towers collapsing, I’m like, “I’ve got to get out of here. This is not for me.” I wanted to rethink my life, my goals, where I wanted to see myself and where I’d be happiest. I decided to move back West. I stayed with my parents for a few months in Las Vegas. I waited tables and bartended on the Vegas Strip. I lived life like a vampire for six months. Funny enough, I ended up getting stoned one night and I’m like, “I’m going to go back to school.”
I’ve had some pretty good stoner epiphany. It shifts your brain a little bit the way you think. I decided to go back to school and back to that track of, “I’m not going to be a doctor. Maybe I’ll be a physical therapist. We’ll try that.” It’s like, “I’ll try the creative side, the entrepreneurial side then I’ll try something stable. I’ll go back to that.” My whole life has been searching for where I fit in the world. I went back to school. It wasn’t long before I realized, “I hated it. I still hate it.” I was still doing the motions because I didn’t know what else to do.
I started dating a girl at that time and her mom happened to be this hairdresser up in the Bay area of San Francisco. She had started doing hair later in her life because she had a divorce and wasn’t making any money during that. I don’t think she was working. She realized, “I’ve got to make some money. I’ve got to work because I don’t have any of that income,” from her ex-husband anymore. She decided to get into hair and went to hair school. She made a lot of money in a short amount of time and had a really happy, fun career. She was like, “Ryan, have you ever thought about doing hair?” I’m like, “No.” She’s like, “I think you should try it out.”
She was like, “Do you know how well men do in this business?” I’m like, “No, I don’t. It’s something else, something new. I haven’t thought about it.” I started doing a little bit of research on hairstyling and the hair business. I’m like, “This is cool. I could check this out.” I don’t have any problem hanging out with beautiful women and bringing out their inner beauty as well. I decided to go to hair school. I quit the school that I was going to. It was Santa Barbara Community college, which I was taking these other science classes. I shifted again. I’m like, “I’m not doing that anymore. No more anatomy classes, no more cadavers. They stink. Get them away from me. It’s not for me.”
I went over to the cosmetology side of it because they had a cosmetology department there as well. I transferred over there. It was super cheap because I was paying my own way and I’m like, “This fits. I can afford it and I want to check it out.” I went there and walked in on day one. Our class was about maybe 15, 20, 30 people. I can’t remember how many exactly but there were two guys, me and one other guy. I went in there and I have to say, I felt peace. I loved it. I’m like, “There’s something to this.” Not that’s a good thing for other people to feel but for me, I was like, “This is new. I liked the attention that I’m getting from this. Let me see if I like what I’m doing here with the actual hairstyling and hairdressing as a career.”
I started to find that I loved it. It’s was a new skill but I could combine both my creativity and my left brain. The side of me that wanted to explain things and figure things out. A part of my brain is a little bit science-driven, which is why I kept going back to school for that but I didn’t want to focus on it solely. I also wanted to be creative and I felt like it was the perfect marriage of the two. I found out that it could be a stable career but I can also be an entrepreneur in it. It all starts to make sense to me. I started to get good at it and started to go from there.
Your career journey spans many different industries, the entertainment industry, the beauty industry, even being a real estate agent as part of that. I know that when you first pursued your passion of acting and it didn’t work out, at that moment, it can be soul-crushing if your dream doesn’t pan out the way you want it to be. What advice would you give to people who are at that point in their lives where they’re at a low and trying to find what they’re passionate about?
Don’t give up. Keep trying new things, find things that inspire you and give it a go. There are people that make businesses out of the most bizarre hobbies and some of them become even millionaires from doing it. I would say for me, the biggest advice was always following my passion. For things that I didn’t like, I just stopped doing. For things that I enjoy, I went deeper into it. If I made money from it, great, if not, it still made me happy. It still made my soul sing. I think we are all able to find some passion that we have and find ways to make money doing it. It’s going to take some time. It’s going to take,
“I love basket weaving. How can I make money with basket-weaving? Should I make baskets and sell them on Shopify online? Should I teach other people how to make baskets with an online course?”
There are many different avenues for doing that. I think that once you start to dive into your hobby and learn as much as you can to become a master of that hobby, that side hustle. It doesn’t even have to be a hobby, it could be your business. It could be salon ownership. I have a salon. How can I make more money than the minimum wage that I’m pretty much making from owning a salon? I could franchise it. I could have more people. I could focus more on hiring the right people and making sure clients are constantly coming in and buying more retail. Get a whole system behind it if you love owning a salon and you want to find ways to tap into the full potential of it.
I’ve heard you speak about this before how you utilized social media to grow your business. Back when you were in New York as a hairdresser, you were flagging people down on the street. You were utilizing Yelp to get reviews. Is that something that you teach a lot to people that you’re mentoring like always take advantage of social media?
Definitely. Social media was a big reason for the growth of Masters of Balayage. We got in there pretty early and I saw that this new platform was taking off and I’d want to be part of it. I didn’t know where it was going to go. The same thing with Yelp. That’s also to a degree like social media, it’s public media. Yelp was such a big proponent in boosting my own business here in San Diego, which I went up to people on the street when I didn’t have any clients. There was a point when I quit doing hair because I didn’t see the potential then came back into the hair. That’s when I did the whole real estate thing, tried other couple of things and got introduced to internet marketing, which helped me years later.
Yelp was what I focused on initially to grow my business behind the chair. I had a very small business behind the chair and then eventually moved into a salon suite situation. I didn’t have that many clients. I’m one person. How many clients can I take? Can I compete with the number of clients that are at a big salon? No. If they have hundreds or thousands a month, I’ve got maybe 30, 40, 50, something like that and that’s when I was really busy. What I did is I made sure that every single one of those people was putting a review on there, was recommending me on there, which is what other businesses didn’t do. They didn’t actively seek to get their reputation boosted with the five stars.
They didn’t create it like a sales job where I had a spreadsheet. I’m like, “I have asked Samantha seven times if she would recommend me on Yelp. She’s always happy. She always says she will.” I don’t beat it to them. I’m not like, “Buy or die.” I always said it in a very nice way like, “If you get a chance, I appreciate a five-star recommendation on Yelp.” “Of course, I will.” Our happy clients need a little extra push because there are the ones that we piss off that are like, “I’m going to Yelp that MF. I’m going to tear his business down,” but it’s the happy ones that never go on there and do it because they’re happy. They leave with their beautiful hair and then they go about their business.
We have to almost nicely hound them until they do it, until they finally sometimes sit in your chair and they’re looking at you and they’re like, “Crap, I forgot to do the review. I’ll do it right now,” pull up their phone and do it. I focused on that and became one of the highest-ranked salons. It was just me in San Diego in a matter of months because nobody else was focusing on that. I saw that potential how it grew into a six-figure business, with my salon suite with that then I’m like, “Now, I’m educating. I’m creating a new business called Masters of Balayage. I see this social platform of Instagram taking off, I need to jump on this.”
I used it initially as an inspiration board. I put it up there that inspired me to look at, that I wanted to be able to replicate, that I wanted to be able to compete with and that had taken off. People were looking at it and it started growing exponentially. I started to put my own work on there when I felt confident that my work could match what I was posting up there. It took off from there. I still remember that day that it started to take off where I must’ve had maybe 1,000 followers, 1,500 followers. Early on, it was just a couple of followers a week or something like that. Nothing crazy.
I’m sitting on the couch watching some movie with my brother and all of a sudden, my phone starts to light up. It was like, “Ding, ding.” I’m like, “What’s going on?” It was like I had won the lottery or a slot machine and it’s like I’m in Vegas. I’m like, “Masters of Balayage started blowing up.” In one night, it was 5,000 followers, 10,000 followers. There wasn’t that much competition on Instagram at the time. You see a popular page, somebody recommends it and then Instagram’s algorithm starts pushing it in front of other people. We started to blow up.
It’s the modern-day equivalent of Yelp. What’s an app that you feel like hairstylists and salon owners should be utilizing to get brand recognition?
Yelp is still huge. Yelp is still something that businesses don’t focus on. If I was going to start a brand-new brick-and-mortar business tomorrow, I would spend all my energy in Yelp. If it was a brick-and-mortar business and it was geotargeted to a certain area, I’m not going to care if people know about me in Florida because they’re not going to be coming to my business. It’s not an online business. It’s a salon. It’s physical. You need to walk into my store. You need to sit in my chair. Yelp is still the only thing that I can think of that is going to help to geotarget your clientele and make you stand out amongst the pack of all these other competitions. You could have 40 salons on your block but if you are the top in that area because you’ve got 300 five-star reviews and they all have 4 or 5, people are going to go to you first. I’m looking at Clubhouse. I haven’t done much on it but I’m checking it multiple times a day, I get these notifications and I’m like, “I’m going to start a group on there. I’m going to do something on there.” You guys did something.
If you’re going to start a brand new brick and mortar business tomorrow, all energy in Yelp.
Join ours, please.
I would love to.
It’s Thursday at 5:30. Are you down?
The problem is after 5:00 PM. It’s funny. People have been pinging me and I appreciate the pings but it’s always after 5:00 PM. The problem is 5:00 PM my workday ends and I become a full-time dad. I’m in total dad mode. I can’t leave or else I’m dead. My wife will kill me.
I hear you which brings us to our next point too. I want to talk about how you are able to balance your work life with your family life.
It’s taken lots of practice and I’m still working on it. It’s an imperfect balance but it’s more about structure. It’s more about having a work schedule. Once I established a work schedule and we agreed on a work schedule for me, which is Monday through Friday. I’m back during the week, I’m working the 9:00 to 5:00 but it’s on my terms, which is awesome. From 9:00 to 5:00 I can do whatever I want, Monday through Friday. I could go to the beach if I wanted to. I could go for a jog if I wanted to but that’s also the time that I can’t get work done. I do make time to work out and have a little bit of Ryan time mixed in there because I can’t do it after 5:00.
From 5:00 until bedtime, I am there to help out, to be a full-time dad, to be present for my kids, which is important to me as well. Before 9:00, the same thing. I’m helping get them ready and everything like that. They’re so young ones. We’re still in the beginning stages of it. We’re still in the thick of it and they require full-time attention. It’s all about chunking our time and agreeing on like, “This is my designated workday. This is when I do my stuff. This is when we do family stuff. This is when you have your time.” There’s no mixing work with that unless I plan it ahead of time and say, “Do you mind if I take a call on Saturday for twenty minutes?” I’ll try to plan it around a nap time or something if that works.
I respect that.
I used to work all the time.
When did you start that? We used to communicate.
It’s been a struggle for me because my mind is always going. I’m always wanting to do things around the clock and that’s the entrepreneurial mind.
You get on your phone and then you just go off down the rabbit hole and then you have a new business.
I make a lot of notes on my phone. I make sure that when I am with my kids that I put my phone down. I’m fully present. For those moments that I’m not, it’s the cutest thing. My daughter just looks up at me, she’s right in my face and says, “Dada.” I’m like, “Phone down.”
It’s like the alarm.
She’s my alarm in the morning. I never set an alarm because now the light hits my daughter’s room at about 6:30. That’s her wake-up time. It’s 6:30 and I’ve got my little monitor next to me because she’s my responsibility in the morning, which I love. Now, it’s 6:30, it used to be 7:00, 7:30. I hear, “Dada,” and I’m like, “I’m up.” I walk in there and drag in, one eye open. She’s got all of her stuffed animals ready to go. She’s standing on her bed, she’s like, “Help.” I pick her up off her bed. She has a big girl bed now, which is so cool. We go out there. I make her breakfast and we watch dinosaur movies.
That’s so sweet.
I don’t even know if you’ve thought about this yet but when your kids grow up, do you hope to pass the torch down to them and hope that they get into the same business as you?
I just hope that they are going to want to follow their passion. I know that they’re going to see how I work and hopefully I can be a role model. I don’t want to push anything on them. I think though by being in this environment where we are entrepreneurs and creatives but also maintaining a loving family structure that will pass on and then they can make their own decisions. The hardest part for me as a father and the successful father is that the more successful I get, the more comfortable our lifestyle gets. I don’t want them to get too comfortable because I know the struggle helps push us and gives us that ambition for breakfast. I don’t want them to be some spoiled rich kid. We’re going to do our best to not give them everything. Give them as much safety and opportunity as possible but I also don’t want them to expect everything without having to work for it.
We 100% respect your hustle. That’s such an inspiring part of your story. Part of your career included really low moments where you were collecting cans to recycle and make ends meet. Where does that drive come from for you?
The struggle helps push us and gives us that ambition for breakfast.
I can say from my father. He passed away when I was thirteen but he always pushed me to be my best. He was a real big part of it. He was always pushing himself to do more. He was very hard on himself, which was tough to watch. He would beat himself up a lot. I do that myself a lot if I don’t feel like I put my best effort forward or if I made mistakes over and over again that I should’ve learned from. I think also being in sports, I was in sports my entire life and that competitive nature. I was in team sports, soccer, lacrosse. I also was in solo sports like tennis. Both of those different elements and also being part of sports and that competitive part of life teaches a person to like, “I need to work on my skills if I want to compete, if I want to be an outstanding player, if I want to be better.” I was pushed into sports and I definitely will try to push my kids into sports without being mean about it but so that they can see what they like. I feel like everybody likes some sport. Even if it’s horseback riding because we have a horse. Jeni was a horseback rider and she was a teacher. I know that’s going to be a big part of her life as well, maybe she’ll compete. Maybe we should do things with that. Learning about competition early in life, learning what it takes to be the best and why it’s important to be up here not just on your team but in life is going to be a good direction for them.
Speaking of your wife, what is it like working with a spouse? I feel like that even makes it harder to end the workday when you’re living with someone who you directly work with. It’s easy to talk about work and let that spill into your personal life.
It’s easy for me to talk about work. It’s not easy for her to talk about work. She used to say, “Ryan, shut up. Workday is over.” It was hard to work with her because she’s not an entrepreneur. She does not have that mindset. She does not care about being an entrepreneur. She’s creative. She is the artist. She wants to put pretty things together. She makes Masters of Balayage beautiful. If you go to my page and see my Instagram page, it’s just a bunch of scattered stuff because I’m like, “I want neon colors today. I want this. I want it to be loud and in your face.”
Now, “I want this to be subtle,” where everything has got to flow with her. She has free reign of Masters of Balayage. I have free reign of what I’m doing but mixing that together is hard. Couples that work together, trying to find a separation between work and personal isn’t going to come unless you have those set clear boundaries and you have those conversations, which it has taken years for us to figure out. We’ve had our struggles for sure. Now, it’s a different challenge with the kids. It’s not hard for her to not talk about work after I get off because she’s like, “They’re yours. I’m done.”
It is challenging. I can see too if we were both entrepreneurs, we’d be butting heads. There are a lot of things that we don’t see eye to eye on. We have to make a lot of compromises. It’s about knowing what each other’s strengths are and having responsibilities, “This is what you’re responsible for. We’ll meet in the middle and talk about certain things. I have to trust that and give you permission to do this. You have to give me permission to do that.” I can’t be the one that’s treating her like an employee because that does not go well.
I get that. Imagine too, your schedule is very different this year. You traveling so much. Before the pandemic, you were gone all the time. I honestly was like, “What does Ryan do?” “What does a typical day for Ryan look like?” You were jet-setting everywhere and doing much education. We want to talk about too, how has the pandemic affected your business, your schedule, your flow. There’s a two-part question we want to know. How you’ve been able to work with the pandemic to make things happen?
Thankfully during the pandemic, we were financially comfortable. We could hunker down. That was probably the best thing for me to feel like I was successful enough to make sure that something that happened, a rainy day came and we’re like, “We can worry about other things but we don’t have to worry about paying the bills.” I think from years and years of struggling to pay the bills and recycling cans to stay alive pretty much made me feel good. All this hard work is paying off. When something terrible happens, we’re okay. My family is safe. We’re fine. As far as a business, my salon died. I wasn’t working behind the chair anyway at that point.
We decided to pull the plug and close that business. It felt good about that. We’re still paying the stupid rent for that for another six months or something like that. We couldn’t get out of the lease. The landlord’s got problems too, we get it. We were still losing money on it. I didn’t have my heart in it so we closed the business, ripped the Band-Aid off. That’s fine. Live education, of course, done. We couldn’t do anything with that. Everything had to move to virtual. All the money that we were used to getting from our Masters of Balayage classes and everything and the events that I would travel for as well, all that ceased to exist. I’m grateful that we had started our online education with Balayage Online in 2017 and it exploded. It’s been continually growing and more memberships.
We expanded the curriculum there to offer a 90-day program, which filmed during the pandemic. I’m like, “What else am I going to do?” I’m going to create a course to honor people that completed with the title of MOB-certified Balayage Master. It’s a 90-day course that takes somebody that wants to be a balayage master from the absolute foundational fundamentals to lightening mastery, to a dimensional mastery and advanced mastery over the course of 90 days, three months with action items and everything like that.
That also helped to make sure that our online business continued to stay afloat because initially once people realize like, “I’m not working behind the chair. My salon is closed. I’ve got to cancel all those non-essentials.” We got a lot of cancellations during that time but then we also got new members that could afford to stay home. They’re like, “What am I going to do? I want to learn something.” I guess what I’m saying is everything was focused on online. It was focused on, “How do we continue to make our online experience better? This is the only way we’re making money right now.”
Early on too, you were doing your lives on YouTube and when those were lit, I was like, “This is brilliant. I don’t even know you could go live on YouTube.”
We do that every Monday. I call it MOB Mondays. Things are more structured in my workday and workweek that we’re like, “Let’s start pushing more time into YouTube,” because I’m getting paychecks from YouTube every month from not doing anything. I’m like, “Imagine if I focused on this and growing my membership, we can make more money from that.” It’s another stream of income. I feel like every hairdresser, every stylist, every person needs to focus on more than one stream of income if you’re going to make any kind of wealth or have any chance of retirement in the future. You look around. What happened during the pandemic if you had one job, one source of income and you couldn’t work, for instance, if you only got paid if you showed up but you couldn’t show up because laws wouldn’t allow you to then, suddenly your lifeline is cut off. You need to have a lot of lifelines coming in. That way, if something is not working, you’ve got something else working for you.
We can relate. We’re trying to do the same. We’re trying to go into different categories and avenues too. I have a question to go with that. With increasing your efforts on Balayage Online, were you able to supplement the loss of income from the live, in-person events like the HERO events and your education or get close to it?
We weren’t able to supplement it. What we were able to do, thanks to a lot of our understanding students that we had to cancel a ton of classes, 20, 30 classes, we were able to push their tickets to further in the year when we actually could resume some of those classes and transfer them to other classes. Some of them were transferred to online memberships as well. We more or less soften the blow. We didn’t have to give $500,000 in refunds for canceled events. That would have hurt. We were able to find ways to do that and do whatever we could to satisfy our customers. A lot of people were very understanding. Initially, everybody wanted their money back and I’m like, “We’re going to die if we do. We’ve all got to work together here. Let’s do this together. How about this, we’ll give you other opportunities, other ways to give you the education that you deserve and the MOB experience that you deserve?”
When that happens, is a lot of the customer service coming to your Ryan Weeden page directly like in DMs?
Sometimes you get DMS. Sometimes you get emails. I would say mostly emails. Most people would go to MastersofBalayage.com to our support and email that way. Other people that didn’t know how to get in touch would send it to Masters of Balayage, the DM, the page. There a lot of great ways to get in touch with us, maybe it’s too many ways.
Does it ever get overwhelming?
It does get overwhelming. I never answer the phone when things are going bad, just text.
How many are employees do you have?
In our team, we’ve got about maybe ten educators because now we have extensions, which I’ve got to get you some of our extensions to try. MOB extensions, custom balayage tape and extensions are incredible and they’re seamless. You’ve got to try some of those. We’ve got extension educators now, which are going to start teaching classes on different advanced ways for placement and certification for that. We have our MOB educators that some of them come in and have guest spots on our Balayage Online membership.
Lead with love, grow with purpose, and share your spirit.
As well as we’re going to be starting our live classes again in April 2021. Fingers crossed, everything continues to move in the direction it is. We’re going to have some two-day intensive workshops all across the country or one-day classes again. The other big change is I have a full-time assistant, Amanda. She’s incredible. She came into my office in the back of our property, it’s this little office let’s say maybe 50 feet from my house. This is where we work all the time. She’s like, “This is Masters of Balayage?” She was expecting some skyscraper.
She was saying, “You guys seem like you’re this huge company.” I’m like, “We have a huge brand but we’re not a huge company. We are a very small company.” After two weeks of learning with on-the-job training, she’s like, “How did you do all this yourself?” I’m like, “I have no clue.” I was always pulling my hair out. I was always buzzer-beating in. There was never enough time in the day. There still isn’t but now I can delegate things. Other people can do things. We have more people on our team now that are helping maybe answer comments.
We get 100 comments a day on Balayage Online, questions about videos and training. There’s somebody answering that. We’ve two Facebook groups for our program as well. We’ve got Balayage of the Month club that we do on our The Balayage Mastermind on Facebook. There are many moving parts of it that each one could almost be considered as a separate business. It’s like a separate arm in each business. It’s exhausting to think about it and like, “I have this and that.” Now that we have this structure of a team in place, everything is starting to flow and we are cooking with gas.
I’d love to hear it. As a CEO of a business, how would you describe your managerial style?
It’s learning in a job. A couple of years ago I’m like, “Crap, I’m a CEO now. I need to start acting like it.” I’ve got to start putting on pants when I go to the office. I don’t do my hair. I patted it down because I walked to the backyard. I get dressed when I’m going to work now even though it’s 20 feet away but I’m a CEO now. I have some big shoes to step into. I didn’t feel like a CEO and there are days where I’m starting to figure this out, like managing people. Everything’s becoming a Zoom meeting. This is like meetings all the time now.
It’s what I wanted to avoid, the whole corporate life, not the podcast. I’m not talking about this. This is the stuff I love to do. If it’s like, “Let’s work on contracts, let’s work on this,” it’s the boring stuff that I wanted to move away from. There’s a lot of CEO stuff that I’m starting to learn like, “This is what it means to be CEO.” I don’t want to just be a CEO. I want to be a leader. I want to be a role model. I want people to look up to me. I have to make sure that I’m not telling people what to do. I’m empowering people to become their full self and they’ll hopefully respect me because of that.
That’s a great approach. That’s a healthier approach.
Do you have a mantra that you live by too or a phrase that inspires you?
There’s one. My buddy and I and I’m grooming him for the COO. It’s funny. He and I are like, “Something’s got to get done. We get it done.” We don’t red tape. We do it. That for us, “It’s get shit done.”
It’s short and sweet.
GSD, Get Shit Done. The other mantras, I’ve got my love, grow, share that I’ve developed over the years. I lead with love, grow with purpose and share your spirit. I try to follow that.
You inspire many people. What is it like being a mentor to many people? Did you have a mentor in your career that paved the way for you?
It’s weird. I got a message one time and this guy said, “Ryan, you don’t know this but you saved my life.” I started to tear up. I’m like, “I’m sorry, what?” I’m teaching people how to improve their lives. You never know that it could save somebody or you see something and you’re planting these seeds. I was talking to Kelly Cardenas. I don’t know if you know him, you’ve got to get him on your show. The guy is so much more inspiring than I am. He’s incredible. I will connect you guys. He’s a friend and I love him to death. It’s very cool to be able to help people and watch them grow. The messages I get and the people that are saying how much my training has helped them or how they’re making more money so they can live a better life now, it’s cool. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like what I’m doing is extra worth it. As opposed to what I’m doing for my family, it’s what I’m doing for other people. Even as an entrepreneur, the more people you can help, the more you can do in your own life.
Have you had a mentor?
One of my mentors is Brendon Burchard. Tony Robbins, of course. I’ve read all of his books and watched a lot of his training. Brendon Burchard opened my eyes to internet marketing and online course creation. I’ve been following him since probably 2010. I’ve followed him over the years. He’s been a mentor. Other people that I listened to, podcasts that I’ve listened to for years, Pat Flynn. He’s another one. It’s funny because a lot of them aren’t even hairdressers. They’re not hairdressers at all. There are people outside of the business, which I think is valuable for people in their particular profession. Look outside of your profession. What are other high-performers doing? What can you learn from them that you can put into your own business? That’s when I learned about creating a course, I didn’t learn because other hairdressers are doing it.
I learned because other entrepreneurs are doing it for personal growth, for other reasons. I’m like, “If I did that in the hair world, that could potentially be amazing.” A lot of my mentors came from outside of the hair world, but there’s Robert Cromeans. He’s this magician on stage that you watch and you’re blown away by. Tony and Guy, some of those educators are my scholars, they’re all fantastic. I watched them on stages. In the hair world, I looked up to all of them and like, “Wow.” The way they can capture an audience, entertain, make them laugh, make them sing, whatever it is, they’re up there shining a light on people and making them happy. That wannabe entertainer inside of me wants to have that power.
Do you ever get nervous before you go on stage in front of a group of people?
Not anymore. For me now, the bigger the audience, the more comfortable I am. It’s so weird. I get more nervous in a small group of people sitting around, drinking wine that I don’t know. When I’m hanging around like 4 or 5 people that I don’t know that well and we’re just all hanging out, most of the time, I don’t have anything to talk about with them. I’m relating this to old friends that you still go out and party with on the weekends because we’d work all day, all week. It’s not what I do anymore because for a lot of reasons. That’s not my mindset anymore. My mindset is bigger. Let’s expand, let’s touch more people. Let’s help more people. Let’s create new things where they’re like, “Let’s get fucked up.” I can’t relate to most people. I don’t want to be around people that bore me because they don’t have anything interesting to say.
I hear you.
Are you a believer in manifesting goals or do you write down your goals and how often do you do that, if so?
Being successful is feeling love and purpose.
I’m trying to meditate more. I still don’t meditate that much. I feel like I do a lot of daydreaming and that’s my form of meditation, like active meditation where I’ll find myself imagining myself on a stage, succeeding and doing things that are incredible. I do that a lot of times before events and it helps. If I’m going to sleep, sometimes I might be lying in bed for half an hour or 45 minutes but I’m playing in my head this event that I’m going to be doing and how I’m going to sound or the podcasts that I’m doing, what I’m going to say and how great it’s going to sound. Sure enough, by seeing myself succeed and I’m not actively imagining myself succeeding, it’s that’s what my normal thoughts have been programmed to do then I succeed. I know that I’m going to succeed. I know that whatever comes up. If I trip and fall on the stage, I’ll be fine because I’ll play it off and be like, “That has happened,” or something, I’ll use it.
One thing I learned in my acting classes was whatever happens that’s unexpected, use it. That’s one of the greatest tips that I got from my acting coach. There’s that. I do write a lot. I wish I was writing more and I have a lot of books in my head that I want to get down on paper. I hate writing on paper unless it’s a journal like typing. I want to do some more books. I do write a lot. I have a journal that I jot things down in. I’ve got my notes. There’s stuff scattered all over the place but if I have ideas that I don’t want to forget, I will write them down somewhere.
I have to physically write something down too.
Do you have some goals you could share with us about where you see the future of Masters of Balayage or even on a personal level?
I want to find ways to even work less and have more impactful appearances and events where I can still have my entire company that’s growing and exploding. I could have people traveling around the world for Masters of Balayage. I want to even start to remove myself more and have my faithful leaders take over for me. I check in with them and trust that they’re going to do a great job and pay them well enough where they’re super happy. I can travel around, spend more time with my family. I realized that how quickly my kids are growing up and by watching them, I want to spend as much time as I can with them and soak it up. There’s that. I want to do some events almost like what you guys did for the AIAs, the American Influencer Awards and Tony Robbins had this big virtual show. Have you seen that?
I know. It’s crazy.
People are dancing.
There were 30,000 people on the screens and this complete 360 where he’s in this room in 360 of cameras where no matter where he is, he’s on camera and there are people around on all these screens. I want to be Tony Robbins in that scenario doing virtuals like that. It looks incredible.
I can picture that. I love that answer. I align with you on many things. I’m like, “This is what I would say. That’s how I would answer it.” I see that for you and you’re killing it. You’re on track and you’ve been delegating things and being able to go a little bit more and hire more people on which I love to see. It’s been the last few years that I feel like you’ve started doing that. You’re doing everything on your own, you and Jeni. You guys are doing a great job.
One of the biggest important things that I’ve been doing more of is saying no. Saying no a lot more for things that I don’t want to do or don’t see a future benefit for. If it’s an invitation to something, I have to decline it. The more I say, no, it gives me more time for the things I say yes to.
How do you make sure you’re taking care of yourself at the end of a busy work?
I try to do that daily. I try to do something for myself daily as opposed to trying to push it off. I know there are certain weeks and certain days where you’re exhausted, you’ve got to get a project done or something and there’s no way to squeeze in, even five minutes to breathe. You shouldn’t make that a habit. I did make that a habit for years and years and I felt myself getting unhealthy. I was drinking a lot. I was not taking care of myself. What I found out is I have to put it into my workday. I joined the Peloton Club. We got a Peloton. You can jump on there. I could be on it in five minutes. I could do a twenty-minute hard workout. I’m like, “It’s 25 minutes,” and I could right back to work, all sweaty. I could do that and it would be worth it. I have done that. I feel great because of it. I feel like there’s always time.
We have to say we have to commit to make time. It could be ten minutes. In the middle of the day, I went for a jog and I felt great doing it because I was really stressed out. I knew that I could sit and stew in my office, be stressed out and get stuff done for the rest of the day but by the end of the day, I would still feel stressed out. I ended up saying, “Screw it. I’m stepping out of here. It’s a nice sunny day. I’m going to go for a jog.” I did that. I came back and I felt relaxed. I felt clear. I had a bunch of crap in my chest. I was starting to cough up but I felt great. I felt clear.
That’s been a theme lately of how people are pouring back into themselves is fitness. We love that.
Especially in the beauty industry, I feel like a lot of people work more than they should. I know there are times where it’s like, you’re building a clientele. You’re not making any money. You’ve got to pay your bills. Work your ass off at the beginning and say yes to new opportunities because you don’t know where those opportunities are going to lead to but you’ve got to find a time and a plan to start slowing down. You have to make time for yourself. If want to last long in this business, you need to be healthy. You need to start wealth building. You need to start saving money. You need to stop buying Gucci if you can’t afford to buy Gucci. It’s because people are flashing it online, doesn’t mean you need to do that to show you’re a successful hairstylist. I wear nice jeans and stuff. I wear the same jeans almost every day. I don’t get dressed up and I’m not flashy. You don’t have to be flashy to make a lot of money in this business.
Do you feel any pressure from social media to try to have a certain persona or project a certain image about yourself?
I did early on and then I realized, “I’m fricking successful. As long as I’m being me, there are going to be a lot of people that like me, that are attracted to the authentic me.” There might be people that are like, “He’s not flashy enough for me.” They’re not my tribe. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing because it’s working. I’m not going to try to live up to somebody else’s standards. I want to make sure that I live up to my standards and that my family and my friends respect me.
I’ll put that on a shirt.
I wore pants because my legs get cold. Not because somebody expects me to wear pants.
I also want to talk about your podcast. I want to know what you want your audience specifically to take away from listening to you.
Be open to being yourself without worrying about judgment from others.
I want my audience of The Hairpreneur Show to learn what it takes to take it to the next level if they want to one day move away from the chair. Who wants to work full-time behind the chair when they’re 80 years old because they have to pay the bills? How can you? Your body’s going to be all beat up. Your neck is going to be hurting. By the time I was done with hairdressing, I had neck problems and I was feeling them. They came back and I had a carpal tunnel. I couldn’t do this for ten more years. I had to get out behind the chair.
I want people to know that there are other ways to be successful behind the chair and I will teach you on my podcast maybe some things about how to be more successful in the salon. It’s transpired into becoming more about beyond the chair. How can you live beyond the chair? How can you eventually maintain what you love doing but grow, start building wealth, start finding that higher purpose and growing into that higher purpose so you can love yourself and love your life more because you’re more comfortable in it.
This is something we ask regularly too. What do you define as success? Do you feel like you’ve achieved that?
What is success? It’s always a tough question. On paper, it’s like, “How much money do you make? You’re successful.” I feel like being successful is feeling love, feeling purpose. Do you feel like you’re making a dent in your life? It’s a tough question but I feel like I am successful. I’ve asked people that question before. I’m like, “Do you feel like you’re successful?” They’re like, “No, I don’t feel like I’m successful.” I know my brand is successful, on paper that’s all successful. I’m happy with who I am becoming. Success is derived from that. I feel like success should be defined almost like you need to learn how to tap into your unique self. If your soul is singing, you’re successful.
You’re such an inspiration to us and were part of the reason why we wanted to start a show with you. You touched the lives of a lot of people without maybe even knowing it.
That’s amazing. Thank you. The podcast journey has been fun. At first, I didn’t know if it was going to last long. I started it out and I was terrible. In my first few episodes, I’m like, “I need to break the ice.” I picked up my book. This isn’t my book. This is another great book called You Said A Mouthful. A book of tongue twisters that I do before I go live to warm up my voice and articulation. The first several podcasts, it was the first five, I’m like, “I want to break the ice and try to figure this out with the editing, with the recording, etc.” I said, “Chapter One,” and try to be as authentic as I could reading my book. It was Suite Success: How to Make Six-Figures in a Salon Suite. It was for hairdressers and I’m like, “I’m going to narrate my book for you. This one’s all about finding your perfect clientele, etc.” I would read my book. It was funny because I screwed up many times that I was constantly slurring my words, learning about what I needed to do to warm up my voice and get everything on the right page for success. It started to get easier and a little bit easier.
I was doing more solos and then I started to bring on guests. That was another challenge because I’m like, “Somebody is going to give me their time. I’ve got to make sure that my stuff is dialed in so that I’m not wasting their time. If my mic is not working or my connection is not right, that it works.” I’m always looking like, “Is it recording? Is the battery going to run out?” All that’s happened. I forgot to charge the battery or it wasn’t plugged into power or something cut out. It got glitchy. It’s all happened before. It’s pretty much mostly sorted now. I don’t have as many issues but when I first started the podcast, there was a major learning curve. Once I got guests, I was like, “Most of the time they do all the talking and I’ve got to ask good questions.”
People don’t know that you were even giving us tips before we started this interview. We appreciate that. There’s always an opportunity to learn, grow and be better.
It was such a good conversation. I guest on Ryan’s podcast and tell him about this company. Karen is like, “All I do now is listen to podcasts.” I’m like, “What?” Karen and I always have talked about like, “Let’s do a YouTube show or let’s do a podcast.” Even back in the day when I was first dating John, he was always saying like, “You guys are like the Muppets and you need to have your own podcast. I can be a fly on the wall and hear you guys talk all day.” That was a few years ago.
It was so long ago.
I’ve listened to podcasts for years too. It inspires me more than listening to music when I’m jogging. If I’m working out, I’ll listen to podcasts. I’m not driving much anymore because I don’t have anywhere to go but I would listen to podcasts as opposed to music. I like to jam out with my guitar sometimes. I love music but I feel like as an entrepreneur, I’m always trying to feed my brain with more stuff. It gives me more stuff to talk about.
Do you have any closing statements for our audience and nuggets of wisdom that you can give them about pursuing your passion and finding success in their own lives?
I would say try to find your purpose. That’s a very loaded statement but it’s more about trying to tap into who you are as a person. Be open to being yourself without worrying about judgment from others. If you need to get new friends, you might need to get new friends. Tap into what makes your soul sing and find a way to make that a big part of your life. If you can find a way to make money doing it, even better.
There’s a plus.
We’re happy for you, watching your growth and to see everything that Masters of Balayage is doing is inspiring on many levels. I can’t even imagine what hairstylists and salon owners are feeling too. It’s like times ten. We appreciate you taking the time for us to be here and to share your story. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.
Thank you so much. This is a pleasure and I had much fun doing it.
Where can our readers follow you? Where can they support you?
Everywhere. My podcast, if you want to check it out, it’s The Hairpreneur Show. It’s available on all podcasts platforms. YouTube, my Ryan Weeden channel there. I’ve got MOB Mondays. We’re doing free education every Monday. If you want to take the Balayage Master’s program, the 90-day course, it’s BalayageOnline.com. All the information is there. If you want to say hi, send me a DM. If you want to screenshot this episode too, that’d be awesome and tag me @Ryan.Weeden.
Thank you, Ryan. You’re amazing and a pleasure to work with. I learn so much from you every single time that we talk, there’s something new every single time.
You’re a rock star.
Thank you so much for having me.
- Brendon Burchard
- The Balayage Mastermind – Facebook group
- The Hairpreneur Show
- You Said A Mouthful
- Suite Success: How to Make Six-Figures in a Salon Suite
- Ryan Weeden – YouTube
- @Ryan.Weeden – Instagram
About Ryan Weeden
Ryan Weeden, Founder and CEO of Masters of Balayage, brings top-level training to aspiring hair stylists across the world, through both live events and online education.
From losing everything in a soul-crushing bankruptcy to building a multi 7-figure empire, Ryan learned what it takes to create a well respected brand.
As an entrepreneur and success coach, Ryan inspires his global audience to unlock their own personal greatness. Ryan also hosts a popular new podcast for hairdressers called “The Hairpreneur Show.”