With over 300K Instagram followers, Lara C. Kay can be found gracing the internet’s most popular social media platforms showcasing her talents in makeup and hair. Her recognized brand circles around her salon, haircare line and collaborations in the beauty industry. She owns Studio Kay, a successful salon in Glendale, California, that draws much attention through its impressive online presence with 100k Instagram followers who can’t get enough of Studio Kay “beauty inspo.” In addition to feeding “the gram” and running her trendy salon, Kay founded LCK Haircare in 2014. Saying that Lara C. Kay keeps busy is an understatement. The beauty guru prides herself on hard work and staying humbled up.
Beauty Store Business: How did you get started in the beauty industry?
Lara C. Kay: I got into the beauty industry not knowing what I was doing. From a young age, I loved playing with my friends' hair and of course styling all of my dolls. As a kid, I attended a private school and wanted to go to public school so bad. Unfortunately, the one I wanted to attend was not in my zip code. The only way to attend the school I wanted to was by enrolling in an R.O.P. class. Luckily, they had cosmetology. That being said, at the age of 14, I was enrolled in a cosmetology class and from then on I've been hard at work furthering myself as a stylist.
Can you tell us about Studio Kay?
Studio Kay is a full-service hair salon located in the heart of Glendale, California. It’s my heart and soul; Studio Kay represents so many hours of hard work, dedication and pride. I work so hard to keep my clients happy and my staff educated with our main focus being quality and affordable prices.
What is LCK Haircare?
LCK Haircare is a luxury haircare line used both by professionals and regular people. This coming Black Friday marks our two-year anniversary!
What was LCK Haircare’s most recent highlight?
Our Marilyn Brightening Shampoo is our biggest hit. It's used in salons by professionals and also by clients at home. It instantly whitens and brightens blonde, while cleansing and hydrating the hair.
What are some of the projects you are currently working on?
Boy oh boy, I don’t know where to start. The biggest project I am currently working on would definitely have to be expanding my hair salon.
You are involved in so much, how do you find balance?
Having such a solid team at Studio Kay behind me really helps so much. Everything I do revolves around work, so at times it is hard to find balance and time for myself. But when I do, it's definitely my mom who pushes me to.
How did you develop the idea for your company?
My brand was not an overnight journey. It took nearly nine years of hard work to build the confidence to open up Studio Kay. I was so dedicated, working day and night, not only on my personal clients but also helping my co-workers build their clientele as well. There were times where I became so overwhelmed with the high amounts of clientele that I would refer my clients to other stylists. I had a boss in the past that one day told me I was wrong for referring my clients and helping other stylists out. I was baffled by her comment and I will never forget that day. At Studio Kay, we're a team and operate as one. That's something I take pride in. I'm continuously encouraging my coworkers and helping them along their journey as well. I believe that when you surround yourself with positive, motivated and dedicated people you'll go much further.
Who are some of the celebrities you work with?
I feel like all my clients are glamorous stars! I’ve worked on Kate Linder, Courtney Lopez, Leyla Milani, Asifa Mirza, a bunch of housewives from Bravo, playmates, Instagram models and plenty more.
What is a career highlight of yours?
I definitely have to say the first year my salon was open. I remember working one day and out of nowhere, I just stopped and took a look around me to realize that at the age of 25, I had about 35 employees, all extremely happy to represent my dream.
“I believe when you surround yourself with positive, motivated and dedicated people you'll get much further.”
What has been your biggest challenge as a CEO?
The biggest challenge has luckily been keeping up with social media. The larger we grow, the more we are in demand and the happier employees and stylists will be.
If you could work with anyone, who would it be and why?
I’ve never really dreamt to work with anyone in specific. The only people I would love to have the ability to work with one day are the Kardashians due to their fashion forward sense of style.
What are your future goals for your company?
To grow my business worldwide, and some day become a well-known, legendary hairstylist.
How many employees do you currently have?
I have about 40 employees—it’s kind of crazy, I love each and everyone one of them so much. They are my family away from home.
What do you look for in an employee?
Loyalty and respect, above all. If you’re not loyal to your salon, who’s going to help you grow? If you’re not respectful to one another, who’s going to respect your work ethic? Those two are a must have.
What did you do before starting your company?
I attended Pasadena City College because my mom refused to allow me to choose cosmetology as a career. She was so adamant on having that as my back up plan. She forced me to enroll in college, and I chose to study psychology. It was the only major that was interesting for me.
What do you do on your spare time?
I rarely get spare time, and when I do, I am at the spa with my book having some quality “me time.”
What is a typical day like for you?
I usually wake up in the mornings around 7 a.m. and work out for about an hour. Then I glam up and drive to downtown L.A. to film at Live Glam for my Instagram/YouTube videos and online classes. Later, I get to the salon and work until about 6-7 p.m. Once I get home, I answer all my emails for LCK Haircare and Studio Kay. Then, I finally get to sleep.
Who inspires you?
So many people do, however, I really look up to Anna Petrosian. She is the founder of Dose of Colors. She is a mother of two, and the hardest-working creative woman I have ever met in my life.
What are three things you have with you at all times?
My laptop, Marilyn Glow Serum from my very own LCK Haircare and Dose of Colors Stone Matte Lipstick.
How does social media influence your company?
Social media has given me the opportunity to turn my salon into an internationally known beauty salon. We have people calling us from Kuwait asking us to style hair for their wedding.
What is a piece of advice you can offer to entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
To never give up. Don't ever let anyone ruin your dreams by discouraging you. Always keep a positive circle to uplift you. Failure is okay.
“Social media has given me the opportunity to turn my salon into an internationally known beauty salon.”
What do you want to be known for?
I want to be the Mother Teresa of hair. I want to help as many hair stylists as I can to grow their business and never give up on their passion.
What retailers are you currently in?
I am currently in Ricky’s NYC, online, a bunch of hair salons, and My Beauty Supply Center.
[Photo courtesy of Lara C. Kay]