Nina Tulio On Embracing The Digital Platform For Business Growth

building relationships engaging conversation face-to-face networking referral program salon owner social media marketing Jun 03, 2021
THS 39 | Digital Platform

The COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions that come with it made people appreciate the importance and power of the internet today. This also opened up tons of opportunities for businesses to set up their own digital platform and cope with this enormous shift. Ryan Weeden sits down with Nina Tulio to discuss how to find the right balance between traditional face-to-face networking and modern online marketing. She dives deep into the two foundations of getting the best referrals: engaging conversations and meaningful relationships. Nina also looks back on the many challenges she faced when running a salon and how overcoming these experiences brought her into coaching today.


Listen to the podcast here:

Nina Tulio On Embracing The Digital Platform For Business Growth

This is a special episode because not only are we coming off this incredibly long hiatus, but we've got some exciting guests along the way. Our first one back is Nina Tulio. She is a rock star and a new friend of mine. I just met her. I was on her podcast with J Ladner, the podcast host of No Stylists Left Behind. You have multiple eBooks, multiple courses. There's so much I wanted to dive in with you. Let's first welcome, Nina Tulio to the show.

I'm so excited. I love this and I get to see you twice this week because you were already a guest on our podcast and then you were on a second time. This is nice. We get to hang out two times in one week. It's been awesome and I've laughed a ton.

You're laughing a bunch before this when I was trying to show you something in my studio, I turned my computer around and realize I wasn't using that camera. I was using another camera. I was a total technology fart. I said I didn’t drink anything. I didn’t smoke anything but it’s probably the years of all that built up. Nina, you have been in the business for a very long time. Did you go to college?

I did not go to college.

Did you go straight into hair after high school?


I did. I was a vocational student because I wasn't a student of school. It wasn't for me. I dreaded going to school every single day. When I was young, I already knew at a very young age that I wanted to either A) Be a dolphin trainer or B) A hairstylist. Once I found out that I had to go to college and dorm room with other people and share a bathroom with 30 people, I was like, "No, this is not going to work. I'm going to forego the dolphin training situation. I'm going to go to beauty school." I went to vo-tech. Right out of vo-tech, I went and finish because I had about 250 hours left. I then went to Allentown School of Cosmetology and finished my 250 hours as a night student.

When I asked you that initially, "Did you go to college?" I'm not trying to judge you based on how educated you are. I looked at this. You don't look like you could possibly have done hair for many years. You look young, vibrant and fresh. I figured you probably went to hair school as soon as you could. That's why I asked that question, not because I'm being a jerk. I went to college. I didn't get anything done. If could go back and not go to college, I would.

I think it's funny. Every time I say 25 years, I feel like a fossil. I'm like a dinosaur. I feel like I've been in the business for so long. Thank you for saying that. I do try to stay young and fresh. I really do and I think it's the industry that keeps me young and keeps me that way, which is cool.

Social media marketing is one of the best ways to attract new business.

We are in one of the best industries to keep us young because we're always trying to make everyone else in our chair look beautiful, young and vibrant, no matter what age they are. You got into coaching. Let's rewind even more than that. You started out doing hair after you realized being a dolphin trainer wasn't going to work out or you realize you'd have to go and take a lot of extra training, learn how to speak and all those prerequisites. You then got into hair. Is it something that you had thought about before or was it like, “Why not?”

It's something that I thought about before. I love animals. It's my second passion. One of my things would be to open up a dog rescue or ranch. My husband and I talk about that all the time. I would love to start a nonprofit doing that. My love for animals pulled me in the direction of wanting to be with dolphins and do all the training. I already knew that I wanted to be a hairstylist even though they're so completely opposite. I don't want to say, "I was playing with Barbies and I was doing all those things." I wasn't but I was into fashion. I was into makeup. I was into doing my friend's hair. It was something that piqued my interest.

When I went to high school, I wasn't a student. Let's say I had Algebra 1 when I was a senior in high school. I almost failed. I had a 59. I was, "Please, I need to graduate. Give me a point." I had to do extra credit so I could finish my Math. Math wasn't my thing, which is crazy because now I work heavily into numbers. I think that going to high school and seeing that there was a Cosmetology training program, I was like, "I can do this." I was the first to sign up in my class. I dove headfirst into my Cosmetology course. That was my everything. I excelled. I was a straight-A student. I barely was getting C's when I was in high school. It was something that I was so passionate about that's why I thrived. I loved my teacher. I was dedicated. I knew that I wanted to be a salon owner. I knew that this was going to be my course at a young age. I did know when I was a little girl.

How young were you when you went to school?

I was probably in middle school when I was, "I'm going to be a hairstylist." You can't sign up for vo-tech until you're in 10th grade, but in 9th grade, I already had the paperwork and I was all ready to go. That's why I was first to sign up. I would say middle school is when I committed to it. I was all in. It was so fascinating to me. Everything that we learned is fresh and exciting. Everything that we did in class, I was excited. It wasn’t a course vo-tech that I took to pass time. I knew that this was going to be my future. I dedicated a lot of time and attention to it.

How long after did you open your first salon? How old are you when you did that?

Lots of stuff happened in between. In 1996, I graduated and then I worked at a small salon. I also worked part-time at Circuit City. Do you remember Circuit City?

I used to love Circuit City. I still sometimes say, "I’ve got to run down Circuit City," thinking it's Best Buy. I still get confused. I remember going in there when the new CDs would come out and they would have those giant long packages so you can walk out with one.

I got a job at Circuit City and I'm so glad that I did. I was working two jobs, a hair salon and Circuit City. I met many of my friends that I still have to this day, many years deep into our friendship now at Circuit City. I also became a customer service manager for Circuit City. I did extensive training for seven weeks in Virginia, all management training. It prepped me for what I'm doing now on how to manage people and how to lead. I did that for a while. I worked two jobs for a long time. That was in 1920.

I ended up going into a walk-in salon, which is where I met my two mentors. They’re still my mentors to this day, although one has since passed last year. I met them when I was twenty years old. I started working at this walk-in salon and that then turned into me being a hairstylist then me managing the salon and then me being the district manager of that salon. I had eight locations that I managed with 55 employees. I then stopped doing hair for a little while because I managed the entire company. That was when I was 22, 23.


The owners of that company had 200 hair salons. They were my mentors. When you asked me if I went to college, it was my college education. Working with them, learning business, learning literally with every day for eight years, I could not have asked for better people to learn from. They were kind, generous people and so damn smart in the way that they were running their businesses. I learned all of my hair education business from them. After that, they ended up selling all of their salons. We all moved to West Palm Beach, Florida and we opened five salons in Southern California in one year. I’m about 24 at this time, maybe even 25.

This is all the same company?

All the same company.

You said walk-in salon. Does that mean Supercuts or is it like a boutique salon that has lots of locations?

It was a private salon. It was a husband and wife. The husband owned 200 of his own separate salons and then she opened up her own salons and opened eight. She was the person that I worked for. She was the person that I ran all those salons. It was called 20 Minute Haircut. It wasn't a franchise or anything like that. She started it on her own. I got a lot of experience. I met a lot of awesome stylists working there. I learned so much working there. I worked there behind the chair for maybe about two years. That's when I was a district manager for another year or so and then they sold. He sold his 200. She sold her eight. Then we all move to Florida and started a new company. It was called Johnny Blades.

We started a new chain of salons. We opened up five in one year. Now we're getting into 2005. I built a new condo in Florida and that was when it was booming. Real estate was booming in Florida and all over the country at that time. I ended up building a condo there. I moved to West Palm Beach. We did that in one year. It was a lot of work. We got it done. After that and after being with them for eight years, I felt like I needed to fly solo. I needed to do something for me because I was so used to working with Robin. I felt like I was almost in her shadow that I needed to do my own thing and walk away. It's funny that we're talking about this because I was sharing this with my husband as we were walking outside. I left her and Ray. I walked away a lot. They took care of me.

At the time, in 2005, I was making $65,000 a year. I had a Mercedes-Benz that was paid for. I had a company gas card. I never paid for gas. I had a cell phone paid for. I had insurance paid for. Everything was paid for. I walked away from that, left Florida and went back to Pennsylvania to start my own business. I had no job. I was teaching dance class. I had to give the car back. I had to get my own car. I had a $550 car payment. I had nowhere to live. I was staying with my brother.

Don't be afraid to ask your loyal, loving guests for help and referrals.

It was an interesting point for me because it was so scary but I'm glad that I did it because then within six months, I opened up my own salon. I opened a commission salon in Pennsylvania. Booth rent isn't allowed there so I opened up a commission salon. I owned that salon for eleven years before I sold it in 2016. On and off, I was behind the chair for about twenty years. I worked behind the chair in my salon until about one year before I sold it in 2016. That's long-winded but that's the story.

I've seen a lot of different things happen in an industry and you've seen ten years more of that because I started in 2004. You started about ten years before that. From where you were when you first started working outside of school to now, now there are social media and there are other ways to market. How did you build a business before there were social media?

I handed out flyers on cars. Old school grassroots, flyers on cars, flyers in apartment buildings, a lot of partnership and networking with business, B2B networking, handing out cards, doing events, and going to trade shows. That's what you had to do and a lot of that were referrals too. Even though I came back to my hometown in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, I didn't have clients. All of the clients that I was doing when I worked at 20 Minute, were all gone. It was just friends and family. It was a lot of networking. It was a lot of face-to-face, getting out, shaking hands and literally putting flyers on cars. Can you imagine doing that now? It's so different. It's much more socially driven but that's how I did it and it was a struggle. I thought that I was going to do much better. When I first opened it, I thought that I was going to be much busier because I was in my hometown. I was back there. I knew a lot of people and no, it was a tough go at it but it eventually ended up turning around and being a very successful business.

A lot of us have that misconception too. You build this incredible space in the field of dreams. If you build it, they will come. You realize, you open the doors, "Where is everybody? Why are they not lined up here? They need to know about the space. I need to market it. I got to post more than two photos on a page that nobody follows to draw people in." We've talked on your podcast and I know you probably feel how I feel. What are stylists missing with marketing? This is a leading question. How important is it for them to start learning how to do old-school marketing like networking? How can we tell the stylists, "This is what you need to do? Social media is great but if you want to take that next step level, you need to learn interpersonal skills."

Because things are slowly getting back to normal, we can get out and network. I do believe that social media marketing is hands down one of the best ways to attract new business. I also believe that a strong referral program, if it's done right, is another strong way to build your business. With the old school thought process, it's believing in face-to-face networking. Now that we're getting back to it, it's seeing people out at Macy's, "I love your hair. Who does your hair for you?" Going to the MAC counter, going to a makeup counter and talking to them because they're in the same industry. "Who does your hair?" "I'm a new hairstylist. I would love for you to sit in my chair."

A big part of the way that I did grow my business after I got out of my first five years, which was incredibly tough, was joining my chamber. In the Lehigh Valley where I live, it's one of the biggest chambers in the country. I dove headfirst into my chamber and I sat on the board for the Women's Business Council. I was VP of Programs. I got invested. Let me tell you something, I met some of the most amazing women that were so dedicated to my business and coming to my salon because they trusted me. If you can get involved with a chamber or your community, you got to work it. You got to work the program. You can't just sign up for the chamber and then all of a sudden think people are going to come. You have to be a part of it and make sure that you're creating relationships. This business is all about relationships.

If there's one thing that's missing, it's that face-to-face networking. It's that literally not hiding behind a screen and tapping into sliding into someone's DMs. It's going up to them and saying, "I love your style. I love your hair. I would love to do your hair. How do we make that happen? Who are you seeing?" A lot of times, they're like, "Guess what, my girl just went out on maternity leave. I've been looking for someone." I think that's what's missing is that face-to-face. Now that things are slowly but surely getting back to normal, I think that we are craving face-to-face communication. Networking, old school, it's going to blow up again.

We talked about the strength and power of a good referral program. I expect that you have a lot of experience with that. What would you say is a good referral program that you could coach people on here?

I can give some bits and pieces because it is a whole system. When you're looking at a referral program, you have to make sure that it's conducive enough. It's going to be enticing enough to make someone switch and leave their stylists that they've been with for 4, 5, 10 years but also where you're not just giving services away. There is a percentage. Typically, we don't create a promotion for the referral program that is more than 20% of your average ticket in the salon. Another tip for creating a good referral program is you would offer $5 more for the loyal guests than you would for the new guests because they're already loyal. They deserve more.

That's a good rule of thumb and also using dollars as opposed to using percentages because nobody wants to figure out what they're getting up to later like, "It’s $30. Is it $20? Is it $15? What is it?" We want to make it very clear and convenient for the guests. My last tip on referral programs would be, make sure that you have cards that you're physically handing out but you also have a digital version of your referral program so you can send it through text and email so then they can forward it to their friends, family and fill up your chairs with all of the goodness.

One thing I used to do too, which was helpful, I called it my Starbucks referral program. Who doesn't like getting a Starbucks card enough for a coffee which is about $5? It's funny how we pay so much for coffee, which you can make for pennies on the dollar but we still go every day. I would go to Starbucks or wherever they sell Starbucks cards. You go and get a bunch of cards, 20, 30, 40 cards for $5. It's a little bit of investment. You get $200 worth of cards. You get a lot of $5 cards. When your favorite clients, not all your clients, which you wish there were more of them in your salon, you'll go up to them during their service while they're getting processed, give them a card and say, "Your next Starbucks is on me. I want to tell you that I appreciate you. By the way, do you know anybody like yourself that might be looking for somebody like me?"

If I asked him in that way, I've learned through NLP and whatnot that they're taking it as a compliment, “Like me? Who do I know that's like me?” It's forcing them to search in their brain as opposed to saying, "Do you know anybody?" "I don't know." That's just too broad. You got to give them something specific and say, "Anybody like yourself." That gives them a compliment, a warm feeling and then they're like, "I got this coffee." It's memorable. You're going slightly out of your way and they're going to, hopefully out of their way and refer somebody to you. Another thing I've learned is that a lot of clients in our chair don't know that you're looking for a business. They don't see you with an empty chair because they're sitting in it. You got to tell them.


You have to ask and don't be afraid to ask your loyal, loving guests. Ask them for help. Ask them for referrals. I talked about this with my VIP gift card program, giving gift cards similar to what you're doing with your Starbucks. It's with gift cards for the salon. We wrap them up. We do a thank you card. There's a whole thing around it. You pick your top ten clients in your salon and do this with them. It's so true. If they think that you're busy all the time because they are in your chair, they don't know that you're looking to grow unless you say, "Linda, I have this awesome gift card program. I want to present this to you. I would love for you to give two of these gift cards to friends and family, people who are like you that would love to sit in my chair and have not yet sat in my chair."

I like how you're doing that with Starbucks too because this is the same way where it's, "Linda, I value and appreciate you. Thank you so much. Here's a little gift for you. By the way, if you have people who are like you because you're amazing, I would love to spend more time with people like you. Do you know anyone?" It's having the conversation. Your clients want to help you get busy. They want you to make more money. You just have to ask.

Think about how much you like your hair. You have to like your hair but if you go and get your hair done by your stylist, you go to a certain guy or gal and you love what they do. It's like a favorite restaurant, you tell all your friends about it. You want to share that. By letting them know that I need some more business, that I would like more people in my salon and I could use their help then, "You should go to my guy. Try this restaurant."

Friends love sharing. I had a good crew of teachers when I was a hairstylist. Teachers talk. Nurses talk. When someone loves you, they're going to tell all of their nurses and teacher friends about you and then you have a whole cluster of them. If that's your perfect target client, for me it was, they make the best clients. First, you have one then you have two and then all of a sudden, you have five and then it's ten. Now everybody in the school and hospital knows about you and they want to spend time with you. You've got to talk about it. There isn't anything. You got to create your own opportunities. If you want to get busy, it's not going to happen while you're sitting in the back room. You've got to be aggressive. You’ve got to be assertive. You have to have a plan. It's utilizing the clients that already know, love and trust you.

Let's switch gears a little bit here. How long into your career did you get into coaching? When did you start that?

I started and found my first coaching book from 2014. It was so bad. I'm glad I didn't go that route. I still owned my salon at the time but I was already dwindling down my days behind the chair. I opened my business, started working six days and then five. We then all went to a four-day week when I had my stylist with me. We worked for four days. I then went three and then two. I eventually stopped working behind the chair with one year left before I sold.

In 2014, we were still in heavy growth because from year 1 to year 5, it was tank city. I almost closed twice. I made poor financial decisions. I got myself into a hole. In year 1 through 5 was horrible but year 6 to 11, it was 20% to 30% growth year over year. That because I had an amazing team that was dedicated to themselves but also to my brand. I always remember my mentor racing to me, "Your strength is not behind that chair. Your strength is out there helping other people. The longer that you stay behind that chair, it's going to limit your growth and potential to helping and inspiring other people." It would ring true in my mind every single day. In 2014, I started somewhat, trying to coach and get some curriculum together. In 2016 is when I sold my business officially. My husband and I ended up moving out of Pennsylvania. We moved to Connecticut for his job. I sold in October of 2016 and in January of 2017 is when I started coaching. It's crazy.

No salon anymore? Full-time coaching?

I sold it back in 2016. To be transparent at 100, I did not look back. Salon owners that are reading, you have to pay attention to how you feel when you're running your business every day. I promised myself that when I am tired and when I cannot give my team and clients 150%, it was time to pack it in. It was about a two-year plan. I felt it was coming. I wanted to have an exit strategy. I planned it that way. I didn't want to shortchange my team. I love them. I feel like they're still my team. I still call them my team even though it's been so long. We still have good relationships with them. I love them and want to see them do very well. It was hard because you know how it is to get close with your clients. My team, they're like my children. I didn't want to shortchange them. I worked 365 days a year nonstop for eleven years straight. I was tired. It was time. It was my next step. It was what I wanted to do. People ask me all the time. "Do you miss owning a salon? Do you miss doing hair?" I'm like, "No." It was great. I loved it but I closed the door.

Opportunities won't happen while you're sitting in the back room. You've got to be aggressive and assertive.

You talk about early in your salon ownership days you had some financial mistakes and challenges. Can you talk about those terrible times? Are they challenges that are common? Did they just happen in your life? Is it something that salon owners face regularly?

It was a bit of both. My relationship with money had played a factor in the decisions that I was making financially. I felt that I had to prove something to myself and to other people that I could make this happen and make it a success. I came from nothing. My family does not have money. We struggled. We lived check to check. My mom didn't work for a period of time. My dad was carrying a lot of the weight. My mom started working when I was six or so. I came from a supportive background with my mom but nobody taught me about money.

When I thought about money, all I thought and saw was a struggle. That was my relationship within. That's how I correlated it. When I started to open my business, I went too fast. I didn't have a marketing plan. I didn't have a strategy. I started overspending. I didn't have a target market. I didn't have a brand. I started throwing darts, "This looks good. Let me spend money on this, $2,000 on that, $3,000 on that." I got myself into a hole. I also was trying to fill voids with spending money personally because there was a lot of stuff that I went through in my life, trauma and things that I was working through that I spent money to fill that void. I made a lot of financial mistakes in a business sense but I also made a lot of personal ones too. Compound both of them, it was a shitstorm.

After year one, I had $800 left in my bank account. I almost closed. Thankfully, I ended up running an ad in the local newspaper. It ended up running an article about me and my business. People love to read that stuff. After it went full circulation, I had eighteen voicemails, people wanted to come in and my business took a turn. The recession hit. We go a few years later, the recession hit. I had gotten myself deeper into debt. I was $90,000 in debt and the recession hit. Not only was I broke, but I was also in a bad, abusive relationship. I had no money. I had an employee that was with me. We were trying to make it work and it wasn't working. We had clients coming in once every three months instead of once every month or 4 or 5 weeks. I took a huge risk. If I didn't take this risk in moving my salon, I would have lost my salon.

At year five, I decided to keep in mind I'm broke. $90,000 in debt, had no money, I asked my best friend Gus for $5,000. I found a location that was a beautiful salon, brick-and-mortar, beautiful storefront that I had my eyes on. It so happened that my friend, Tony, was friends with the owner of the building. He got me in and spoke well for me. Vince, his name, the landlord took a chance on me. My credit was shot. He knew I had no money. He ended up working with me, taking a chance on me and gave me an opportunity. We moved into this new space. I went from about 700 square feet to 1,600 square feet. I got new stylists. I joined the chamber. I was out and about. I was marketing and networking 3 to 4 times a week. We rehabbed the space with $5,000. My friends and family came in, helped, painted and did all the things. I started over at that point. Within one year, I was able to pay back my friend, Gus, his $5,000.

From that point, it was growth after growth. It was my fault that I got into my mess. I owned it. It was nobody else's fault. It wasn't my stylist's fault. It was nobody's fault but my own. Until I owned my own shit and took accountability for my mistakes, that's when my business structure and model became clear. That's when my brand became clear. That's when my vision became clear. That's when I started to attract stylists that were for me and my brand. A lot of them were with me for a good 4 or 5, 6, the longest was about 7 years.

Was it a ride? It was tough. I thought to myself at this point when I'm already thinking, I'm five years in. I have no money. I'm going to have to close. I sold my home to keep my business. That's how bad it became but I made that choice because I was committed and responsible for my team. It even gets me emotional about what I'm telling you. I was responsible for them, feeding their families and I could not disappoint them. I could not close those doors. I was not failing. I prayed every night. I was, "I am not giving up." I decided to sell my home to keep my business and it paid off. I'm grateful that I went through that. It taught me how to manage my money. It taught me how to believe in myself. It taught me to rely on my team, give them hope and inspiration because they were with me as this was happening. It changed the course of my life. Thankfully, my business grew and was very profitable that I was able to sell it.

All these epiphanies that you had looking back about owning your shit, I could call this episode Own Your Shit. You're taking responsibility for your actions, success and failures as well. As somebody who's going through something like this, which I went through something similar, on my own journey, the whole debt, bankruptcy and whatnot, I know exactly how you were feeling in a sense. At the time, a lot of us are looking at the situation and we’re like, "Why me? Why is this happening to me?" We look back years later like that was the best thing that ever happened to me. It's not something that we realized as we're going, "I love being broken, poor and not having any business. This is great." It usually takes years later when we look back and say, "I know why that happened to me." I'm guessing it probably hit you later on. You're like, "I am thankful that I had that experience. As tough as it was, I'm thankful that it happened because I'm happy with who I am now."


I would do it all over again, honestly.

That sounds terrible but I would too.

I feel so much stronger. I would do it all over again because I feel like it gave me a sense of strength and self-worth that I know I could do anything. That was probably the bottom for me. I was at the bottom of the barrel at that point and I know that if I can get through that, I can get through anything. It took me years to get to that point because it took me about four years to get out of that debt. I went into a debt consolidation program. That's what worked for me. I was able to pay off that debt and now be debt-free.

We're going back years. This was 2010 that this was happening. I wouldn't change it because even when I had my salon, we were doing well, bringing in money, making money and everything, I was finally able to get paid. I was able to pay myself after year seven. I would still operate from the space of being broke because I knew that it could all go away. Even to this day, I still operate from the space of like, “That could happen.” I don't dwell on it but it drives me. When you're broke like that, not once but twice, you sell your home, you're struggling to pay, you have employees, I needed that wake-up call. I needed to dive deeper into my relationship with money.

Honestly, I needed to dive deeper into my own struggles within myself because that had a lot to do with it too. I did a lot of therapy. I still do a lot of therapy. I started therapy when I was 21. It's important for us as stylists because we give much. There's so much output and there's not a lot of input. We always put ourselves second. I would do it again. I wouldn't change anything. I would definitely do it again, for sure. It sucked all the time.

It would suck if I had to do it again. If it does happen again or something terrible does happen again in our lives, I know we're going to look at it and be like, "This really sucks. I don't want to be here but it's happening for a reason. It's happening to make me stronger, to look at it with new eyes. It's a new challenge for me to overcome and tap into my own personal power." You started your coaching in 2017 and then you moved into the online space. Is that something that you did at the same time in 2017? Did you start to move in and create online courses years later? When did that happen?

I didn't get into digital right away. I started doing a lot of in-salon face-to-face interactions, Zoom calls, and things like that. It was in December of 2019 that I had my first online membership program, which I say it's like Netflix for the beauty industry. There are collections like branding, Instagram, business structures and things like that. You pick and choose what you want to go see. There's no structure to it. You're like scrolling. "I like that. I need that. Let me watch that."

It was in 2019 and I've been running that ever since. Now we're about three and a half years in on that. In 2020, with the year heading and changing the course and path for everyone, I was putting off creating a five-week course for suite owners and renters and putting off an eight-week course for commission salon owners. There's so much that goes into creating a digital course. It's not like we just plug things in. There is much not only on the recording side but the platform, in plugging in all of the verbiages, the PDFs and all of that. 2020 forced me to do that. I was able to create both of my business courses for suite owners, renters to make that money and synergy for my commission owners. They've been going well. Thank God that happened in 2020 because I would still be sitting here talking to you thinking, “I got to get into those courses.” I saw an opportunity and had the time to be able to create them but digital is the way to go. You have to be digital in some way, shape or form with your business.

It's the absolute future especially if you want to make money while you sleep. We talk about that. How can you make money while you sleep if you're a hairstylist? That's how. We all have a specialty. We all have our own personal gifts. People are selling information. They're selling their perspective online. Every single hairstylist could have their own education out there. You look now and a lot of people are doing it and turning it into their own online training programs.

Personally, I've got several subscriptions and memberships to personal growth specialists outside of the industry. It’s not like I want to follow one person. I want to follow a lot of different ones because they all have something different to teach, even if it's in the same space. If people are thinking about whether or not they should do it because everybody else is already doing it, it's still early. There's much to get started with now and like anything else, people will drop off. People will realize, "I created great content but not only do I have to keep creating content to build up these libraries or build up these courses, I have to play online customer service. I have to do so much extra. I got to edit videos. I have to maybe pay for a videographer." It's all exciting and fun at first.

If people are signing up, you're going to have people that are not happy just like customers that are not happy. They're calling their credit card companies and saying, "This is fraud." You signed up. You put your credit card in to pay for this. It’s like you have those one-off people if you have a good product. The majority of people are going to be fantastic and appreciate what you do. There is a huge learning curve online. You started early. I started early. I started in 2017 and I'm so glad I did because even those people that are starting now, you're already ahead of them. Not only in knowledge but being already in the online space and knowing how to launch courses. It’s the same with me. I already have all these people in place for the online course. We're already years ahead. We're already staying ahead but that doesn't mean somebody shouldn't jump into it.

You have to be digital in some way, shape, or form with your business right now.

It doesn't have to be this elaborate course. It could be one video of your specialty. It could be something that you start off with. It could be something that you're passionate about that you've been pushing off. Maybe you just need to get a videographer. Maybe you need to write the script for it. Do it. Don't wait. Are we saturated or maybe overly saturated with education? Sure but I really feel that there is a person for everyone. There is a connection. I could say the same thing as you. We could talk about the same things but people connect more with the way that you deliver information than me or vice versa. You have to find your niche. You have to find your thing that you're passionate about, that can be conveyed through education virtually because it's different than conveying a message one on one, face to face. You have to be able to have a presence to teach virtually. The content has to be there. It has to be strong. The strongest will survive in the beauty industry in terms of education whether it's virtual or in person. It is a lot of work but it's so worth it. Don't wait. Get into it and do it if it's something that you're passionate about.

What's next for you?

I want to write a book. This is something that I've talked about now for over a year. I am procrastinating because I don't know the direction that I want to go in yet. I have ideas. I'm dragging my feet on it because I want it to be perfect. That's what is next for me, continuing to grow the podcast with J. I'm with Oligo. I'm their Education Ambassador for Oligo Professionnel. I'm building and nurturing that relationship with them. My partnership with Schedulicity is awesome. I love them. I write business blogs and do vlogs for them. I'm continuing to nurture those relationships.

If you ask me what I would want to be next, I envision a big stage. I envision a lot of people having a-ha moments like speaking engagements and being with thousands of people where we're all learning from each other. Where we're all having those a-ha moments and being vulnerable. We are sharing stories of being broke and it's okay. We are talking about mental health and anxiety because it's okay. That's where I see myself. I don't know when that's going to happen because of COVID and when things are going to be opening up but I'm ready to go. In the meantime, I'm going to try to work on this book that I've been talking about.

I got the same issue if that helps. I wrote a book a few years ago. It was called Suite Success. I made a lot of success in a small salon suite. I wrote the book there about how I did it. A lot of the same principles apply. The book started out like Lord of the Rings. It was 400 pages long. The editor was my wife and my wife's mom. I couldn't afford an editor so I had them do it and they did it. They did a wonderful job but then it went from Lord of the Rings to this little magazine pamphlet you'd find in the dentist's office. They took all the Ryanisms, redundancies and all the things that didn't make any sense for the book. It gave it the meat and potatoes of it but it wasn't the book I had envisioned.

It's great because I can just give it away and stuff. I don't want to say I'm embarrassed about it. I wrote a book. It's not a very long book. Now, I look at it and I'm like, “The spacing is off here. The margin’s off. I said this twice.” Even when you edit something 2, 3, 4 times, you still miss things. It's unbelievable. I'm ready for my next book. The one with a spine with my name on the back of it. I keep saying, "I want to write a book. What the hell am I going to write about?" I don't know what I'm going to write about. I feel like it's going to come to me soon. This is what I need to write about but I'm with you.

It will come and I feel like I get closer and closer. I get more clarity. As I'm doing this and spending time with people, my goal and in truth, I love the beauty industry. I'm so fortunate that I get to do what I love in the beauty industry but I love growing people. That is my passion. I love watching people win. I love watching the underdog because I was the underdog. I love watching them rise to the top. I even get chills thinking about it. That's where I lean when I think about writing a book that's more inspirational, it has to add value and be driven. When you pull the trigger on that, you know how hard it is. It's a book. When it's done, it's done. You can't go back on it. It's not like a virtual, "Let me backspace." It's printed. It is hard. You're right. It'll come to you too when you're ready.

I'm sure you like to journal and take notes of your life and times when you have a-has and whatnot. Even revisiting past journals and things, you'll start to put the pieces together. I realized that I've been struggling with a lot of things for years and years. It didn't occur to me that I've had the same problems. Some of the same issues and challenges for a decade now from looking at past journals, I'm like, "I'm still dealing with this. It's time to get over this hump."

I did an episode and I touched on that. I took it to a whole different vulnerable level like what you talked about. I want to start to share this stuff on stage and talk about what makes us up, anxiety, depression, mental challenges we have at times. What we faced to truly become who we are, not paint this rosy picture, "I got this thriving business. This is all you’ve got to do. I just wake up at 4:00 every single morning. It doesn't matter if you've got kids. You could be a dad too. You can do everything."

You're right. The other twist of that is showing up on Instagram and making everything look perfect because that's not the truth. I think people now more than ever are being so much more vulnerable. If you guys go follow my page, you'll see I share a lot of being broke. I share what haunts me about being broke. I think it's important for us to share that. Are we successful in our own right like what we think is successful because everybody has their own definition to it? Sure, but we are still human and I will speak for myself that I am still a work in progress. I am still on the struggle bus days here and there. I'm still learning about how I can be better. I'm still working through anxiety and trying to manage that, trying to maintain and not feel bad about it. We're still going through. The shift that you see on Instagram a lot of times with a lot of people is not reality. I love that you're opening up yourself to share more of that stuff because that's where the magic happens. That's where true connection happens.

I cried a little bit. It touched me. I'm an emotional guy and I think more and more that's going to come out with what I'm doing now, the new direction that I'm taking. I'm exploring my truth. I want to share that with other people. It's important to show that we are imperfect and nobody's perfect. We're human and to get to be successful, you have to have a lot of challenges. We face a lot of obstacles along the way.

I got so emotional and I thought to myself, "No." I thought you looked a little weepy but I was unsure. When I started to get emotional, I was like, "Is he going to get emotional too? How are we going to go through this?" It's dope that a guy can live in his vulnerable state, be true and feel his emotions. I'm happy that you're going to start sharing stuff. I'm tuning into that.

Thank you. Nina, it's been such a pleasure having you on here. Let's talk more. Let's exchange phone numbers as we don't text each other yet. I want to do something with you on a grander scale someday soon. You inspire me every day. How can people find you?

Thank you so much. I appreciate you. I told J that I love him. He is smart and funny. I feel like I've known you for a long time, so thank you for having me. You can find me on Instagram because that's where I live. It’s just my name, @NinaTulio. If you want to check out my website, it's

Thank you so much, Nina. You said, "You're smart. You're funny." I'm like, "I'm not that smart." I was telling myself, “I’m good at a few things but I'm not that smart.” I did an episode and I said I'm 43. I got my age wrong.

That's just a moment that comes with age. That doesn't mean that you're not smart. People get their age wrong all the time.

Thank you. I appreciate it. I appreciate you. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Thank you so much.

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About Nina Tulio

My name is Nina Tulio and I’m a former stylist and salon owner turned international business coach, motivational speaker and The Business Education Ambassador for Oligo Professionnel. In addition, I am so honored to be a columnist and Ambassador for Schedulicty, a columnist for SalonEVO Magazine which is based in the UK. And a part of the Editorial Advisory Board for Beauty Launchpad Magazine.

I’m an East Coast native, born and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (the Christmas City) and fun fact, I’m a trained dancer! You can catch me dancing all over Instagram and I often incorporate dancing into my salon workshops—you’ve been warned! As much as I love to dance, my true passion is giving back to my community and leading future stylists and salon owners on their path to success.

First and foremost, I am a salon coach for salon owners, stylists, suite owners and renters. It’s been a long path getting here (we’ll get to that in a bit) and I want to share everything I’ve learned along the way with YOU! Because of my extensive experience in the industry, I can quickly identify the areas in your business that need attention and teach you how strong leadership and a solid business structure can change your game! I offer one-on-one coaching, budget-friendly monthly memberships, and courses designed specifically for your business model.