Small Business Spotlight: Q&A with Crown Hair Salon Owner and Stylist Josh Sutton
Our ongoing Q&A series features Leonor Greyl superfans who share our passion for luxurious, healthy hair. This installment is dedicated to the small independent salons that are integral to the Leonor Greyl family. Join us in celebrating them on Small Business Saturday this Nov. 28.
In honor of Small Business Saturday, a day dedicated to supporting the “shop local” movement, we are excited to introduce independent salon owner Josh Sutton. Josh is a sought-after stylist who runs the Crown Hair Salon in Petaluma, CA, a charming river-front city an hour north of San Francisco near wine country.
Petaluma is a semi-rural town known for its Victorian homes, organic farms, and historic downtown with turn-of-the-century brick and iron-front buildings that house an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants – and Crown Hair Salon. Picturesque Petaluma has served as the backdrop for some of Hollywood’s most famous films, including “American Graffiti” and “Peggy Sue Got Married.”
Petaluma also is where Leonor Greyl’s U.S. headquarters are located. We’re honored to have Crown as our exclusive local partner in town.
Running a small community-focused business is Josh’s passion. Josh grew up in the neighboring small town of Healdsburg, where his grandfather ran the mortuary for decades and was a community pillar. Josh’s family has lived in the region for five generations.
“I was brought up with a strong understanding and love for community,” Josh told us during a recent conversation about what being a small business owner and LG partner means to him.
Read on to learn why Josh chose to run a salon instead of the family business, what his small business philosophy is, and why he feels a kinship with Leonor Greyl.
Leonor Greyl: Josh, did you always want to be a stylist?
Josh Sutton: Well, I didn’t know it until I was in my early 20s, but the signs were always there. I think the world kind of decided I was going to be a stylist!
LG: Tell us more about that…
JS: I always cared about style. I was the kid who wanted to go to the salon instead of the barber. I liked the camaraderie of the barber, but I didn’t love the outcome. So, I always went to the Russian River Hair Co., where I got everything from highlights to a surfer mop to a permed mullet.
LG: Permed mullet?!
JS: Yeah, that gets a lot of laughs. But I think it was an early sign that I was destined to become a hairstylist. When I was in sixth grade, I noticed that my hair growth pattern in the back made my hair curl to the right and expose the neck. I saw the same thing happening to a friend’s hair, and it didn’t look good – like Flock of Seagulls but reversed.
I asked my hairstylist how to fix this weird wave, and she offered to perm it. She did the curling rods way too tight, so at first I had this little Afro in the back. But once it loosened, it made sense!
LG: What was your path leading to cosmetology school?
JS: After high school, I went to junior college, then Chico State University, studied electrical engineering for a while, worked at Safeway, and worked at my grandfather’s family business.
LG: When did you finally see your future in styling?
JS: I cut friends’ hair in college in exchange for food and beer. (It’s amazing that we had money for food and beer, but not haircuts!) I gave the cutest cuts, like A-lines and unconventional sculpted styles. Later, I had a girlfriend who dropped out of beauty school. One night while waiting for her to get ready for our date, I was flipping through her magazines. In the pile was her book from cosmetology school. I opened it and was instantly interested. I saw that hairstyling involved so much science and geometry. That really got me.
LG: Where did you study and train?
JS: At the local beauty college. Then I assisted Joe Hamer (award-winning celebrity stylist who worked in Petaluma and San Francisco). That’s where I was introduced to Leonor Greyl products and met the Leonor Greyl family.
LG: What attracted you to the Leonor Greyl line?
JS: I love that it remains a family-owned company, which sits well with me because I come from that. And I love knowing I can stay in touch with the same people at Leonor Greyl, as opposed to a big company that has reps coming and going or gets bought by a bigger company, changes the products, and puts you through the wringer.
LG: What shaped your philosophy as a small business owner?
JS: My grandfather, Ernie Frandsen, was an inspiration to me as a business owner and was a perfect example of being able to balance work and home. He was always there for me when I needed him and was a big part of my life.
You know, he asked me if I wanted to take over his mortuary business when he retired. I told him, “I want to work with live people.” And he said, “Good choice.” I think he felt like he missed out on a lot of life because he put so much time and energy into the business. But I also saw how he became such a highly respected member of the community. He was so honest and kind. I also learned from him that you could be with somebody in their darkest moment and speak with them in a way that shows you genuinely care and connect. It was a life lesson I’ve been able to use in my behind-the-chair work.
LG: Tell us more about your salon. What’s it like?
JS: I bought the salon three years ago in historic downtown. It has high ceilings, tons of light, and a big, beautiful exposed-brick wall. We have nine stylists in the space, including Kat Savano (Leonor Greyl haircare educator). Kat created the gorgeous Leonor Greyl hair spa treatment room here.
LG: What’s your favorite Leonor Greyl product story?
JS: A guy I work out with at my gym was growing his hair out and he wanted me to cut it. His hair was very coarse and dry, it felt like a sponge. I couldn’t get my hands through it. I gave him the full Leonor Greyl treatment, starting with L’Huile de Leonor Greyl pre-shampoo oil on his ends and Régénerescence Naturelle oil to treat his overly dry scalp. Then I cleansed it with Crème Aux Fleurs and massaged in Masque à l’Orchidée to deeply condition his thick hair.
Afterward, we both had a wow moment. It completely changed his hair. When I saw him at our next workout, his hair still felt so good. It was shocking, like day and night.
LG: As a small business owner, what personal philosophy would you share with other owners?
JS: I can’t say enough about being reliable. In my opinion, it’s the most important trait of any successful business.
Another thing…I’ve been given many opportunities in life and learned valuable lessons. I also made my fair share of mistakes that I’ve learned from. I want to share all that with the people around me, especially the salon team, in hopes that I can give them the opportunities to make their businesses successful and lives more enjoyable.
LG: Thank you for sharing your stories with us, too, Josh.
JS: My pleasure!