• The Curl Girl

Is a toxic commission salon similar to a cult?

I've had so many stylists tell me they were afraid to leave their salons, and most of them said similar things, so it had me wondering and I decided to do some research.

There is on brand specifically that will cut off stylists who leave their commission salons and not even allow them to purchase their product line as independent stylists. I've heard many stylists over the years casually refer to their culture as "cultish" but to me other than being cut off from the product line (which I was never particularly impressed with anyway, tbh) it didn't seem like anything other than typical corporate indoctrination, BUT, does this type of corporate culture breed some of the toxic environments that are created in individually owned commission salons?

The type of behavior seems to stem from toxic owners who lack self awareness, operate from a place of fear and scarcity and spread their toxicity through the ranks of their salons to create what some may perceive as a cult like culture.

The ones that are the most dangerous, in my opinion, are the owners who put up a facade of toxic positivity and don't necessarily get caught up in some of the more petty behaviors of the less savvy owners who are operating more reactively - the toxic positive owners know what they're doing are consciously orchestrate a culture that breeds blind loyalty and fear of leaving.

Neither of these types of personalities or cultures are good not healthy and I've spent a significant amount of time working with stylists who want to escape these types of situations but are consumed with fears and insecurities that are consistently reinforced from the owner and others in their hierarchy. The clear message of "you'll be nothing without US. You won't succeed without US. You'll be back if you leave."

Some pressure stylists into signing non compete or other various employment contracts that really are only meant to instill fear that they will be financially ruined by litigious actions if they leave, and won't hold up in court. That said, if you have singed any type of contracts or non compete agreements, PLEASE contact an attorney for legal advice. I am not an attorney and am only sharing what I've seen, not giving legal advice.

Please see the attached links below to read more about corporate cult culture and see if you feel that any of this applies to you.

If you are in a toxic salon, you've most likely been gaslighted by the owner-

"Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that occurs in abusive relationships. It is an insidious and sometimes covert type of emotional abuse where the bully or abuser makes the target question their judgments and reality. 1 Ultimately, the victim of gaslighting starts to wonder if they are losing their sanity."

Gaslighting can also look like a salon owner gossiping about an employee who is leaving or who has already left, saying that they were fired (when they quit/resigned) or any other multitude of untrue things to save face - they are angry that the person left and they were not able to intimidate or control them into staying. They're operating from a place of scarcity and fear and lashing out. This behavior us unstable and unacceptable.

Here are some links if any of this has hit home with you, so that you can research further on your own. If you've been subjected to this type of toxic environment, you are probably looking for some validation after being gaslighted or at the very least being constantly invalidated.

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