Before we get into the long list of questions that we have for you, I would like to be the first to welcome you to The Hair Society family as Executive Vice President of Business Development and Continuing Education as well as a member of the Executive Board of Directors at The Hair Society. We are both elated and honored to have someone with your credentials, enthusiasm, and caliber not to mention stick-to-it·ive·ness joining our team. of respected and admired industry leaders. We are truly looking forward to you leaving a lasting impression on the business development and educational footprint of The Hair Society. We know that selecting you will impact more than the internal functions at The Hair Society, it will advance and transform the way our members look at education in a way that benefits their salon business.
HS: Let’s begin by having you tell us more about you, where you are from, what do you enjoy outside of the hair replacement business etc.?
K.B.: I’m from a small town in upstate New York. It was a great place to grow up but I had more aspirations in life than to work on a farm. When I am not busy working helping others in our industry, I enjoy working out both in the gym and along the south Florida coast.
H.S.: Tell us more about how you got introduced to and eventually became actively engaged/employed in the hair loss space?
K.B.: I was working in a private club and one of my friends told me her friend just solved his hair loss problem. I never mentioned that my hair loss bothered me. Obviously, the comb-over must have been a dead give away. She gave me the name of the studio and phone number. Long story short, I’ve been a client at the same salon under which has seen four different owners for almost 23 years.
H.S.: Tell us more about your personal experience with hair loss, and your efforts to resolve them.
K.B.: I gradually began to lose my hair when I was seventeen years old. No big deal at first (I had a lot of hair back then). By the time I was in my early twenties, I was trying everything to hide or regrow my own hair. From Rogaine to high-end shampoos. I even tried coloring my hair blonde. I tried all sorts of vitamins and finally, I finally gave in to the dreaded comb-over.
H.S.: Why did you choose hair replacement?
K.B.: It looked like I was aging too fast and I wasn’t growing fond of the reflection in the mirror and non-surgical hair replacement was the only option that would give me the density, look, and confidence that I both wanted and needed.
H.S.: You obviously have a vast knowledge of hair replacement and hair loss in general. In your opinion, what seems to be lacking in the industry and what will you be doing to address those deficiencies during your tenure at The Hair Society?
K.B.: Great question. Education is my first priority and will continue to be a priority throughout my tenure. Working with business owners and their staff, focusing on all areas of the hair replacement within the salon. Marketing, consultations, the front of the house operations, wet care sales, picking the correct vendor to purchase products from and why, technical training on all the aspects of delivering a hair system to a client, and most importantly client retention just to mention a few.
H.S.: During your career in the hair replacement field, you have had the unique opportunity to interact with many salon owners and staff from all walks of life. What has been your biggest takeaway from that
K.B.: I could go on forever on this, however, to mention a few key points
Good quality products (hair systems) at affordable pricing. Education for new salons wanting to add hair replacement to their business model and advanced education for current hair replacement. Strong customer service from a manufacturer that knows what the hair replacement salons go through on a day-to-day basis.
H.S.: Who inspires you most and why, who has been your mentor over the years?
K.B.: I am inspired by all men, women, and children who are losing their hair and want a viable solution. I have had many mentors over the past twenty-three years in this industry. My Mother was my biggest influence. She always said, “If you believe in something, never give up.” My passions and drive in life are to help people who suffer the stigmatism of hair loss. Moreover, help alter society’s negative perceptions of hair loss.
H.S.: Tell us more about your ambitions, passions, and goals for The Hair Society and its members?
K.B.: It is my goal to make The Hair Society the first stop of a hair salon that wishes to introduce hair restoration to those customers who are seeking more information about hair loss and hair thinning solutions. The first go to business in helping new and existing hair replacement salons develop and improve their business model. Being bipartisan, the salon owner would know we have less interest in a financial gain than we do in helping them network, pick the best vendor for their needs, etc. We are not a vendor but have relationships with many vendors, and manufactures and can help navigate this sometimes daunting terrain.
H.S.: If you could offer some advice to a hair salon owner and or stylist, what would that be?
K.B.: The number one piece of advice would be to not just jump into offering services like hair replacement until you are fully and adequately trained and certified. This has been the number one mistake I’ve seen far too many times
H.S.: How do you differentiate your approach from others in the hair replacement space?
K.B.: I’m more interested in the salon succeeding than the sale. I want customers to feel like I’m part of their business. Customer service is the most important aspect period!
H.S.: What have been or continue to be some of the business challenges you have faced or expect to face as you move forward at The Hair Society?
K.B.: There are always going to be difficult challenges. Adapting to the ever-changing marketplace. Keeping your pulse on the needs of the salon are among the most important. Setting a salon up for success by listening to their needs and then providing a roadmap to achieve that success. To many manufacturers are selling “what they have” this doesn’t necessarily mean that is what the studio needs. We will need to find the perfect fit for each salon. Marketing, sales tools, education, vendor, and the most important customer service strategies that make sense.
H.S.: If you could change anything in the industry, what would it be and why?
K.B.: Making continuing education mandatory before salons can offer hair replacement. I’ve personally seen too many salons offer products and services that fail the client’s expectation because of a lack of training. This invariably leads to a loss in business and a bad name for our industry.
H.S.: What are some of your biggest achievements within the hair loss industry?
K.B.: The evolution of our industry has been amazing from thin skin units, full head bonding, PRP, trichology, follicular transplants, and laser hair therapy. Hair loss may be inevitable in most men and women, but today there is a solution for every type of hair loss, and there is really no excuse not to seek a viable treatment option. My biggest achievement has been to open the eyes of so many salon owners as to the best way to select, apply and manage hair systems. Next to that is the amazing relationships I’ve forged along the way.
H.S.: What advice would you have for someone who is thinking of starting a hair restoration and or replacement business?
K.B.: To start, research your targeted area, study the demographic, shop your competition, partner with The Hair Society to network, and advance your education, and choose a vendor that will help you grow your business. Choose what you want to offer in your business model not just what any particular vendor is selling.
H.S.: There is a myriad of hair replacement and restoration solutions available to the public. Are there any that you would stay away from and why?
K.B.: This question all goes right back to education. If the Image consultant listens to the clients wants needs and desires first. Then performs a hair and skin analysis using a high powered scope. I feel there is a place for all proven hair replacement solutions. There are always new products and treatments being introduced. I would stay away from any that promise to do everything or too fast. Hair can only grow so fast.
H.S.: If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently if anything and why?
K.B.: Yes I would, I would go back to working in a hair replacement studio. My first passion is to help people and I loved every minute of it.
H.S.: What is your least favorite aspect of this business
K.B.: The rising cost of goods. Making it very challenging for hair replacement salons to stay in business. I feel that the prices
H.S.: What is your favorite aspect of the business?
K.B.: Seeing the look on a new client face after they have had their first hair system applied and cut-in. Priceless!
H.S.: How important is continuing education to you and how important do you think it should be to others?
K.B.: Extremely important! It is the key to any successful business. I think any business owner that wishes to succeed in today market would agree.
H.S.: Looking forward five, even ten years from now, where do you see yourself, in the industry
K.B.: Continuing my work as a key team member at The Hair Society. The dream would be to help standardize the hair replacement industry. Working with all of the manufactures to improve the products and services they offer. This will ensure that all our members will be getting the absolute best products and customer service to meet their on-going needs
H.S.: Tell us about a time in your career that you wanted something so badly that you were unstoppable in pursuing it. What obstacles did you overcome to get there?
K.B.: Getting a job at Hairuwear and AHL (American Hairlines) working to promote and grow the Virtual Reality™ brand. I knew it was the future of hair replacement and I wanted in. I had to resign from the hair replacement studio I was working at, and relocated across the country and began to learn every aspect of working for a first-rate wholesaler. This was all new to me, but I knew it was the perfect fit for me.
H.S.: Tell us about a time you had a measurable/quantitative impact at any of your former employers and a salon?
K.B.: Working at my very first hair replacement studio and green as any new sales consultant/image consultant could be. I was able to upgrade 75% of the client base into nine or twelve hair systems per year in a four-month period. Generating enough revenue to run the entire studio for a year. Working at American Hairlines, I was able to educate twenty plus studios into becoming part of the Virtual Realty™ network. Helping them grow their businesses and in some cases helping save them from having to close their doors.
H.S.: What’s the last thing you really geeked out about in the hair replacement industry?
K.B.: Education! Technicians have to be licensed cosmetologist or barbers. Why shouldn’t they have to be certified in the hair replacement industry on top of their state license? e.g. Not just any doctor can perform a heart transplant, they need additional education and certifications. After all, what is this about, the sale or the client/customer?
H.S.: What current trends are you seeing within the industry that you feel will make a lasting impact?
K.B.: Gone are the days that we can easily sell twelve, seventeen or even twenty-four Systems to a male client or nine to twelve systems to a female client. The manufactures need to develop systems that will last longer with higher quality hair that is affordable for salons to offer. Developing different types of attachment methods for the growing women’s market. More hair placement studios going factory direct for their hair systems to effectively stay in business.
H.S.: Is there anything you would like to add before we conclude this interview?
K.B.: I am excited about the next step in my career. From client to image consultants, manufacturing to working with The Hair Society to help improve our industry at the next level.
As we concluded the interview with ken, we concluded that Ken Baszto is one of the most dedicated, hard-working individuals in our industry. His focus on customer service is not only inspiring, but it’s also a lost art. He finds a way to add value at every turn. We feel very fortunate to have Ken on our team but feel both the industry and consumer are the real winners. Ken is no longer constrained by corporate walls that limit his reach. He is now unleashed to help others grow from all corners of our industry.