By Sarah Kollmorgen
Snooki, Snoop Dog, Lady Gaga, Jay Z ... John Smith?
Without a catchy name, it can be tough to stand out in today’s world of outsized characters and personalities -- which is one reason why so many celebrities voluntarily change their name in a quest for recognition and fame. After all, it’s a lot easier to remember “Lorde” than Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor.
However, not everyone voluntarily chooses to go by a new moniker. For some, a catchy title just sticks, almost accidentally. That’s what happened to hairdresser and social media consultant Jon-David.
Commonly known as the “Mafia Hairdresser,” Jon-David -- who also goes by just his first name, hyphenated -- began using this persona while marketing a book he authored of the same name. (The book detailed his time as a stylist in Los Angeles cutting the hair of reputed mobsters.) Almost overnight, he found working with the designation an inseparable part of his business.
Jon-David is spearheading a digital evolution of the salon industry. (Photo courtesy of Jon-David)
“If you choose branding that is the most easily remembered, no matter how silly it may sound at first, you probably have a winner,” says Jon-David, who decided to fully embrace his Mafia-inspired branding, even as he’s evolved from full-time hairdresser to writer and actor to his current role as social media and marketing consultant for the salon industry.
Through a ‘dot-salon’ (.salon) domain name, Jon-David is bringing together all of these roles under the Mafia Hairdresser brand. He recently re-launched his website as MafiaHairdresser.salon.
“I have an even better chance of being remembered with the 'dot-salon,'” he says of the digitally progressive domain choice he now champions to other salon and beauty professionals.
A colorful career
Jon-David's success didn't happen overnight. Like most self-made entrepreneurs, it was a combination of hard work, tenacity and a little luck -- courtesy of some colorful clients.
He began his career as a hairdresser during the 1980s in Long Beach, Calif., when he decided to open his own salon at the ambitious age of 24. Although he had to give himself a crash course in business, management and marketing, Jon-David’s salon, the Visage Appearance Centre, quickly became a success. Within a matter of months, he had hired nine stylists whose calendars were booked with clients.
“I was always ambitious,” Jon-David says. “Probably a little too big for my britches.”
Although business was booming, it came with a few caveats: namely, Jon-David says he found himself the chosen hairdresser for a few powerful drug traffickers. Rather than worry (too much), Jon-David kept them as clients and turned this potentially sticky situation to his advantage. When he moved to Chicago in 1992 to pursue other creative interests, such as writing and acting, the experience provided rich fodder.
The result was both a screenplay and novel titled The Mafia Hairdresser -- a fictionalized account of his experiences with both the glamorous and shadier sides of Los Angeles. Since the screenplay initially struggled to gain traction, Jon-David says he began a rigorous marketing campaign around the book and found success in ways that he wasn’t expecting.
“That novel actually branded me. I was not Jon-David, I was Mafia Hairdresser,” he says. “Sometimes your audience will brand you, and you have to run with that.”
In promoting the book, Jon-David says he also discovered his skill and predilection for managing social media. He began coaching various businesses—such as law offices, restaurants and medical groups -- in basic social media strategy, including Twitter and Facebook.
Jon-David schools the the salon industry on the digital trends that will attract new clients. (Photos courtesy of Jon-David)
Today Jon-David still cuts hair in Chicago, but only about 20 percent of the time. The rest of his schedule is taken up with consulting work for larger companies in the salon and spa industry. He also devotes time to helping those in the salon and spa industry as a sort of social media and marketing pioneer and coach.
“Only in the past year have I really turned around and focused on salons and spas. They need it the most,” Jon-David says. “They’re not utilizing social media, email marketing, their websites. And it’s not being taught by the educational brands.”
On his website, Jon-David provides a range of social media and marketing tutorials for the salon and spa industry. He’s a one-man marketing maverick, with an email newsletter, podcasts and a weekly Facebook Live show. He also has a YouTube channel that features topics such as “Why You Should Blog Twitter Tips,” “How to Handle Trolls and Haters” and “Information About Dot-Salon.”
“I give them the tools to thrive and survive,” Jon-David says.
Although it constitutes only a fraction of his work-week, Jon-David says keeping up the hairdressing side of his business is crucial. It puts him in contact with some of Chicago’s business elite and social media experts. Conversations with clients keeps Jon-David on top of the latest social media tips and tricks, which he can then pass on to social media clients of his own.
A memorable URL to match an unforgettable name
In fact, it was a client that first introduced Jon-David to “not-com” domain names. Since 2014, more than 1,000 new domain extensions have joined the likes of ‘dot-com’ (.com) and ‘dot-net’ (.net). One of these options is specific to the salon industry: ‘dot-salon’ (.salon).
Jon-David was among the first to seize the opportunity and switch his website from Mafiahairdresser.com to Mafiahairdresser.salon.
“’Dot-salon’ is such a better choice for me because I work in the salon industry as consultant, and I still do hair part-time,” he says. “It's just a more instantly recognizable statement of what I do when you tell people MafiaHairdresser.salon.”
Jon-David says he was excited about using the ‘dot-salon’ domain as it will give him perfect branding across the board; help in Google searches; and make his website more memorable. (Jon-David plans on maintaining MafiaHairdresser.com for his eBook, so that people can check out his book and salon work without confusing the two.)
Jon-David believes other salons, spas and hairdressers can also benefit by following his lead and switching to the ‘dot-salon’ domain, as it would allow them to be both creative and clear about their businesses to a digital audience.
“You can say, ‘Tres Chic, Oh La La [dot com],’ but you don’t know what it is,” Jon David explains. With a ‘dot-salon,’ he says, the same business can brand itself as Treschic.salon and retain their personality while showing that they’re in the salon industry. “It’s such better branding for the salon owner."
See Related: The Best New Marketing Move for Your Salon Business
Self-marketing pertains to individual hairdressers, too, Jon-David says. In today’s digital world, it’s essential for hairdressers to include their location, services and contact information online.
“Even if you’re working for somebody, you are an individual brand,” Jon-David says. “Everybody should have their own website. It is social proof that you exist.”
Jon-David recommends hairdressers reserve their ‘dot-salon’ domain name now, even if they don’t have a website yet. In the meantime, they can have the domain redirect to their Facebook page while they build a website and personal brand.
As he continues growing his own brand, Jon-David says he looks forward to bringing more information on marketing to the salon and spa industry through his consulting work.
“This allows me to stay on top of my social media knowledge, as well as give back to my industry that has given so much to me,” he says.
Although Jon-David doesn't mention having attracted any mob-related clients while in Chicago, if he does, he’ll have the marketing legwork done for his next installation in The Mafia Hairdresser series -- and we'll all be eager to hear those tales.