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From stylist to owner: How three Sport Clips Haircuts franchisees built their future

Jun 05, 2023

One of the things that sets Sport Clips apart from its competitors is the work environment fostered by store leadership. For some team leaders (store owners), managing a team of stylists comes second nature because they got their start as stylists.


Amanda Mazzone, owner of three Sport Clips locations in New Jersey, has been with the franchise since she was 22 years old, when she started out as a coordinator with dreams of becoming a stylist. Mazzone was drawn to this work as a child because she saw other stylists carrying themselves with incredible confidence. “I loved who they were as people,” she says. Amanda brought this people focused approach to her management style, where she prioritizes building relationships and treating stylists and clients with kindness. The perspective she gained through her experience as a stylist provides substantial benefits when it comes to leading a team. She does such an incredible job she was named a Team Leader of the Year at this year’s National Huddle.


“It has an advantage because you know what you are doing and the stylists always say, ‘You understand us better’,” said Almaz Haile, who began her journey with the franchise in 2000 as a stylist. Management positions require an ability to multitask and think on your feet, skills that Haile learned through working as both as a stylist and manager.


“I’ve seen other shops where they don’t care about their employees but with Sport Clips, the way we focus on the culture of the store and how we focus on the team members, that mentality helps drive us to how successful it has been in every state,” said Gregory Zotian, who also began as a barber to gain experience before owning his own stores. Growing up in the business helps, too, with his parents joining the Sport Clips brand when Gregory was young.


Zotian says Sport Clips is unique because it focuses on cultivating the specialized in-store experience, elevating it above a simple haircut. Mazzone adds, “It’s not just a haircut, it’s an entire experience.”


Being an owner is rewarding, but it comes with long hours and hard work. The biggest pieces of advice all three stylists/barber turned team leaders gave to others looking to follow in their footsteps?


Haile says, “Work hard. I tell others the grass is greener here because we make it green.” Speaking to the importance of putting in effort to get yourself where you want to go, she adds, “It doesn’t happen overnight, but with hard work you can get there.”


Zotian says, “The way I made the leap from stylist to owner was to ask a lot of questions. When you want to own your business, you can never ask too many questions. Make sure you take the time and understand the business before taking on a big change in your life. I have seen people join a business and fail because they didn’t understand the business side. I trained under my parents who were Sport Clips franchisees for months on end and took over more responsibilities in our company. I networked with many other team leaders in different areas, not just in my area, to see what works. I think I never truly felt I was ready. I just took the leap and I’m still learning every day to grow into becoming a better owner.


Mazzone says, “I was a stylist for two years and a manager for eight before making the jump. I did not inherit my stores, I had to earn them and that was scary. But don’t let anyone doubt your abilities. Be positive and determined.”

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