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Terra Harvell: “I always say your hair is your crown”

I always say your hair is your crown — so wear it how it makes you feel happy! If that means getting it done, then splurge on that blowout. If it means air drying it and having that tousled look out of the shower, do it! The best way to feel beautiful is also to […]

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I always say your hair is your crown — so wear it how it makes you feel happy! If that means getting it done, then splurge on that blowout. If it means air drying it and having that tousled look out of the shower, do it! The best way to feel beautiful is also to feel comfortable in your skin. I never felt more beautiful than when I really learned to love myself and of course hair extensions!


Asa part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Terra Harvell.

Terra has built a flourishing business behind the chair for nearly a decade and has turned her craft and herself into a million dollar producer. Her impressive resumé includes being the Founder and CEO of Harper Ellis Hair Co, owner of Salon Five Zero Four in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Host of We’re Just Hairdressers Podcast.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always been into hair, my grandparents would babysit me before I was old enough to go to school while my parents worked. I would sit on the front porch with my grandma and fix her hair in any hairstyle I could think of, as long as she would let me! I said then that I wanted to be a hairstylist, I would love the smile on my grandmothers face after I finished a style. That was the deciding point.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I was in Vegas with my best friend and business partner Rachel, and this gentleman was sitting next to us at the bar, he was talking to us, and trying to have a conversation and asked what I did. So I told him I was a hairstylist and he kind of looked at me shocked and said, “You can afford all that just being a hairdresser!?” He had picked up on some of the brands I was wearing and followed up with “What does your Husband do?” I brushed it off, though Rachel was probably ready to fight him, but in that moment I really understood that so many people think that you can’t make money doing what I do. I knew that showing other people in the beauty industry that you can build wealth was important to me. It’s also what sparked the name of my Podcast called We’re Just Hairdressers!

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

My tipping point would be when I got into the hand-tied hair extensions game. That’s really when I started seeing a change in my income and realized I could take this and make it something even bigger. I was then able to create more options for me to make even more money and the best lesson I learned was to become a master in what you do.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My business partner Rachel, she’s actually also my best friend and I know that for many it’s hard to mix friendship with business but she’s been there through it all. I hired her with the salon but didn’t know if I could pay her. She just believed in me and trusted me from the get-go that I was going to make things happen. Things weren’t always so glamorous for her, she was doing it out of her love and belief in me than the financial reasons knowing that the handwork would pay off soon. She has helped me a lot in that her area of genius is my lack of genius. Kind of sounds like a marriage! ha, but it kind of is!

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The global beauty industry today has grown to more than a half a trillion dollar business. Can you tell us about the innovations that you are bringing to the industry? How do you think that will help people?

I started launching digital education. In the beauty industry it’s important to stay up-to-date and perfect your craft. We’re also in an unprecedented time where in person events are much harder to do and come by. Our digital education will be able to reach so many other people and ultimately give them access to my brain from home. Everything is moving online and to have the extensive education suite that I’ve created is a game changer for other stylists as well as my business in general.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?

  • Modern day hairdressers are more highly respected you can be a queen of our own business!
  • You can ultimately do whatever you want and this industry and have the opportunity to go from small town USA to creating a global beauty empire
  • There are so many cool niches within the beauty industry. You’re able to pick one and run with it — most are profitable, so you can ultimately do something you love and also make an income off of it.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?

  • There’s this younger generation starting to come out of school who are seeing others with so much success. I worry sometimes that they are looking at that level, thinking they can reach it over night and not learning to crawl before they walk. With social media it’s easy to see someone’s success, but not what they went through to get there.
  • The current pandemic concerns me somewhat as well, our job is human touch and it’s been difficult to do that. Salons are being shut down, people don’t want to book your services out of fear. It’s probably a common answer but a realistic fear!
  • Another concern is complacency — I don’t think anyone should ever feel like once they’ve reached the top they don’t have to work towards anything anymore. This industry changes quickly and if you can’t keep up you’ll fall!

My top 3 things I’d do to improve the industry would be to, make standards within salons a requirement for education and professionalism, make it easier to learn the money and accounting side of what you do, and have better resources for preparing for retirement!

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?

I always say your hair is your crown — so wear it how it makes you feel happy! If that means getting it done, then splurge on that blowout. If it means air drying it and having that tousled look out of the shower, do it! The best way to feel beautiful is also to feel comfortable in your skin. I never felt more beautiful than when I really learned to love myself and of course hair extensions! 😉

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, Can you please share “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”. Please share a story or an example, for each.

  1. Most importantly, knowing how to market yourself and utilize social media! I don’t think I’ve ever had a client come in and not show me something on their phone saying ‘I want this..’ And a lot of people have personally found out about me through social media and other platforms! It definitely pays off to show your work.
  2. Work ethic — even if it means working weekends until you get to where you need to go: I never really looked at my hours behind the chair as hours I looked at it as the money I wanted to make. I wasn’t afraid to work those Saturdays and Sundays to reach my goals at first. Over time you can adjust, but just a few years ago I spent most days in the salon well past 9pm.
  3. A yes attitude — you should really not be turning anything down! No job is too small or too menial when you’re starting out and trying to succeed. I used to do it ALL but now I only do hair extensions. I wouldn’t have gotten where I am today by saying no to everything that came my way.
  4. Be consistentwake up everyday with the same purpose, this doesn’t mean you have to work 24 hours in a day everyday, but know your goals and create a routine and stick to it! Don’t let yourself get lazy, I’ve seen many hairstylists get too comfortable and that was their downfall when it comes to creating financial freedom.
  5. Find a good mentor and hang on for dear life but also make sure not to burn bridges:Caroline Kalentzos, CEO of Posh PR, is my biggest mentor and the closest I’ve ever been to one. Even though she provides a service she personally cares about my success and dreams. I realized how valuable that is and how hard it is to find. She works 24 hours a day and inspires me to hustle too to make my dreams a reality.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

A movement I’m already working towards is helping women to understand their worth and realize they can literally do ANYTHING, sometimes it just takes the good, bad and ugly to get there. I’d also love to see a movement where influential people in the beauty industry showed their Day 1, the not so glamorous, hard times, probably could barely afford groceries side of their hustle. Everything is a highlight reel and I think we need to remind people that wealth doesn’t come over night and everyone struggles at first.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If your dreams don’t scare you they’re too small.” I honestly live everyday scared and that sounds crazy but you learn to enjoy the feeling and realize that when you’re uncomfortable it means you’re growing. Nothing’s impossible, it all depends on you determining your worthiness. You have to decide you’re worthy in life to reach the dreams you’re setting for yourself.

How can our readers follow you online?

I’m on Instagram at @talkswithterra and @harperellishairco — they can also catch me on my new podcast We’re Just Hairdressers available on Spotify and iTunes and on Instagram @werejusthairdressers. I love to engage with followers and answer any questions that people may have about the industry! Come say hi 🙂 and as I always say — Cheers to success!

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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