Hi there! My name is Alison Harper. I'm the proud owner of Let's Prep Salon and Alison Harper & Company. While I often get the credit for such an amazing team, I want to remind everyone that this incredible salon is thanks purely to the talented artists and dedicated support staff that help me keep this place going. If you'd like to read a little more about my journey, read on. Otherwise, go check out my talented team -here!
I attended Paul Mitchell the School Tysons Corner over 12 years ago and graduated with Phase II honors. I also won the Beacon award in 2007 and was selected as one of the top 100 cosmetology students in the country. When I entered the beauty industry I was truly mislead on what to expect. I found my industry in dire need of change. I bounced from salon to salon trying to find a salon that would help educate me and support me while I learned how to meet my clients needs. Each salon immediately dumped me on the floor without training me in their color line, or client preferences. I found the salon culture to be competitive and found myself dreading the work I loved.
I almost left the beauty industry when I fell into weddings. I found the independent environment and the happy brides refreshing. In 2010 I crossed paths with a makeup artist that had been struggling like I had; working for a salon owner that didn't support her in the ways she needed. I knew in that happenstance meeting that if I wanted things to change, I needed to be the change. By the end of 2010 I opened Alison Harper & Company; a traveling wedding team specializing in updos and makeup.
To date, this team is the leading beauty team in the Washington, DC area. We have over 375 positive reviews and have been named as one of Washingtonian Weddings Magazines Best Wedding Vendors for 5 years in a row. Through this business I discovered my passion for coaching professional hairstylists and makeup artists. I currently represent over 35 of the most giving, skilled and dedicated hairstylists and makeup artists in the tri-state area. We've been lucky enough to complete over 4,500 weddings to date.
In 2015 I decided that we needed a professional studio. I found a stunning 2nd floor dance studio in Laurel, Maryland. I had no idea the complicated path I was headed. When we initially opened, we were strictly a styling studio for special events. [That's where the "Let's Prep" name came from!] 3 months after we opened, a hurricane headed up the east coast creating a micro-burst tornado. This powerful storm danced across the roof of my studio and left a gaping hole between our chairs and the sky. We were flooded in the days following when the hurricane finally arrived, ruining everything in our space and effectively closing us down for 4 months. This was devastating; all of my savings, blood, sweat & tears had been poured into this studio.
Here's the thing about me though, I'm freaking stubborn. When the going gets tough -I dig my heels in. I doubled down and decided that with the renovations we were going to expand. It made sense to me; I had so many brides requesting haircuts and stylists that wanted a salon to call home. Boy was I in for an experience.
If you'd like to read more on the storm and renovations, you can visit the micro blog I created documenting the process -here.
With the expansion, I knew I needed support. My sister, talented hair stylist and partner in all things Caitlin stepped up as salon manager. I am proud to say that we now run two full businesses; a booming wedding agency and now a growing multicultural salon with 10 talented stylists. The most amazing part, we both share a commitment to elevating our artists. We provide them with regular education, coaching support and a flexible work environment so they can balance their home and work sustainably.
There are a plethora of ways our salon is different from the standard but the most noticeable is our salon culture. If you come in for an experience with us, you'll quickly see why we call our space a "Community Salon." We encourage our stylists to share with each other because we fundamentally believe that we are stronger stylists together.
While my heart is full managing two amazing teams; I realize that my industry still has so many soft spots. I've began pouring my knowledge of internal salon systems and management experience back into the beauty industry. I travel and educate other salon owners on modern management techniques and help coach growing stylists. I find it incredibly fulfilling to help elevate other women [& the rare guy!] and hope that through my inability to keep my mouth shut that I'm able to help someone manage their career a bit better. You can learn more about that side of my work -here.
When I'm not busy with work, I'm a new mom [due in July 2019!]. I come from a very large family; I have 7 very opinionated aunts. I'm addicted to Game of Thrones, thrift shopping and chipotle. There isn't anything I love more than sleeping in and I'm enraptured by the moon's phases. I have two adorably obnoxious cats named Willow and Winifred. Above all of this, I consider myself freaking lucky to get up every day and work on what I'm passionate about. That's what life is all about, right?
You can follow my personal journey online