Female Fast Risers - Courtney Allison
Name: Courtney Allison
Brand: Sola Salon Studios
Title: Vice President of Operations
Years in franchising: 10
No. of units: 545
What attracted you to franchising? I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. My mom and dad owned and operated their own small business, so I grew up dusting retail shelves, managing inventory, and interacting with customers. I’ve always loved and appreciated the entrepreneurial spirit, and that is what attracted me to franchising. I love that franchising can provide people with a piece of the American Dream. Sola is a brand I immediately fell in love with because I get to support franchisees’ dreams, and the franchisees get to support the entrepreneurial dreams of thousands of beauty professionals.
What was your first job in franchising? When I worked for American Blue Ribbon Holdings, we were primarily corporate-owned with a small percentage of franchised units, so that was my first experience supporting franchisees. After that, when I had the opportunity to go to Famous Brands International (Mrs. Fields & TCBY) and work more directly with franchisees, I jumped at the opportunity.
What do you attribute your success to? I had a couple of really great mentors early in my career who had very high standards of excellence and taught me so much about business and operations. I still hear their voices sometimes. And now I get to look for opportunities to be that person for some of my younger employees and co-workers.
What challenges and obstacles have you overcome in your career? The biggest obstacle for me is balancing being a mother of small children with the demands of work. I have three kids, 7, 4, and 4 (yes, twins!). There are times when I’m all-in on work, and there are times when I’m all-in on my kids. This year especially tested my ability to manage remote schooling, childcare, supporting franchisees through shutdowns and losses, and keeping my team focused and positive. I learned a lot of humility and know that the things I learned this past year professionally and personally will stay with me my entire career.
Describe your journey to your current position: My early career was spent working in retail operations and higher education. I loved teaching and made the transition to corporate training, where I first started interacting with corporate and franchise units. As I continued to gain experience, I found myself in multiple roles wearing different hats in training and operations. I came to Sola Salon Studios just over 5 years ago as director of training and support. SoIa had just experienced a massive period of early growth and needed additional training and support systems for its franchisees. At that point, we had around 250 locations, and I’ve had the joy of supporting the brand’s continued growth to nearly 550 locations. Though 2020 was an incredibly tumultuous year, I was promoted to vice president of operations in July and have spent the year building the operations team. It’s been a privilege to grow with a company and brand I love.
What are your future career goals? I want to continue working in leadership roles with brands that are fiercely committed to supporting franchisees.
Advice to young female executives in franchising: Surround yourself with smart people! Look for mentors you can learn from, and strategically hire people who are smarter than you.
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