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When Alex Miller was 3 or 4 years old, she liked to watch hair-cutting videos with her dad.
As young as she was, Miller already was developing an eye for style. It's family tradition, after all; her parents are Scott and Helen Miller, owners of the Scott Miller salon, spa and cosmetics boutiques in Pittsford and Webster.
The younger Miller today is a stylist educator for the company. (Her brother, Michael, is in the music business.) Working with a team of four, Miller manages the assistant training program, teaching the company's newest employees about products and getting them started working with clients. Assistants are the foundation of each of the six departments and are the future of the business, she says. The company has 160 employees. Education is so important that the salon has toyed with the idea of opening a school.
The emphasis on guidance and encouragement builds an atmosphere of teamwork.
"Even if it wasn't a hair salon, I'd still want to work here. It's such an amazing place to work," says Miller, 23. "My dad always says it's in your hands. You have to care as much about your career as we do."
The owners' daughter receives no special treatment, Miller adds. Her first job at the salon, as a ninth-grader, was doing laundry. She worked there through high school and college, making appointment confirmation calls and selling makeup in the store. She also went through the assistant training program.
Even though she knew the salon would play a big role in her future, Miller wanted to experience college and life outside Rochester. After a couple of years at St. John Fisher College, where she studied English literature, she moved to Boston.
"I wanted to get a city living experience, kind of get it out of my system," she says.
Miller worked in a restaurant and attended the University of Massachusetts, soaking up the bustle of big-city life. She says her experiences working for others and absorbing the energy of a different place guide her in her job now.
"My generation is very change-oriented" and open to new ideas and creativity, she says. "There's something to be said not to be on (Boston's) Newbery Street, where there's a hundred salons. The way we run our business, it is set apart."
When she returned to Rochester in 2010, Miller stepped in to give the assistant program some extra attention. Assistants crave encouragement, she says, as well as a liaison to management. Her position brings a new focus on accountability to their progress. She also has a hand in the salon's artistic direction, working with photographer Carrie Mateosian on model shoots that adorn the salon's walls and website.
But Miller's job isn't all planning and managing. She still picks up the scissors three days a week. It is instantly gratifying, she says.
"I find that cutting for me comes naturally. It's so satisfying to really change somebody's life; you can see them just light up."
Miller has worked on hair at Armani runway shows with celebrity stylist Oribe. At the first one in Milan two years ago, she was slated to assist but ended up getting her own chair. The other was a haute couture show during Paris Fashion Week, where she again was part of a team led by Oribe. Miller and her father worked together; it was two people to a head for the show's "tight, small hair," she says.
In business for 27 years, Scott Miller is nationally known as a stylist and salon owner. Celebrity stylists are family friends, from Oribe to Sonia Kashuk. Salon owners seek him out for business advice.
Alex Miller's goal is to take over the business someday. She'd like to open more salons.
"Who knows? Maybe we could take the Scott Miller brand into something other than cosmetics," she says.
"I love anything having to do with things that are new and different. I like that that's my responsibility."
3/23/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email email@example.com.