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September 15, 2011

First Person: Kali Jones, stylist

[This is the first in an occasional series spotlighting real people and their Windows Phones. Know someone interesting whose Windows Phone plays a key role in their job, business, research, or hobby? Let us know! Email: [email protected]. –ed.]

Kali Jones, a Seattle-based stylist, uses her Windows Phone HTC HD7 to book clients, show off her cuts, and charge credit cards.

When Kali Jones moved to Seattle from Las Vegas last fall, life got a bit crazy. An in-demand hair stylist for the past 15 years, Kali soon found herself with a full client base in each city—all of them clamoring for her to make them look fabulous (her motto: “I make supermodels”). So Kali, 34, rents a chair in a salon not far from her North Seattle home, and flies down to Las Vegas once a month for a long-weekend marathon with her clients there.

Since she got it last spring, her Windows Phone—an HTC HD7—has become an indispensable professional tool, taking her marketing to the next level and helping her stay on top of the logistical challenges of running a business. I caught up with Kali recently in the sunny garden of her home, surrounded by late-summer blooms and vegetables, with Brazilian jazz playing on the sound system.

What’s a typical work week look like for you?

I have 90 clients in Las Vegas, where I lived for 6 years, and 90 in Seattle—two full, independent clienteles. In Seattle I usually work Tuesday to Saturday, and I spend 4 days a month in Las Vegas seeing my clients there. When I’m in Las Vegas, I work from 9 a.m. sometimes to midnight if I’m doing extensions.

How does your Windows Phone help you manage things?

For one thing, I’m not going to miss a contact, whether they choose to email, call or text me. My clients will book their appointments through texting, and then I remind them about their appointments with a text. For the Las Vegas clients, one week before I go down there I blast out texts. I think they like that, because people can’t pick up the phone at work, or maybe they’re a cocktail waitress and they can text me back at 1 or 2 a.m. and it’s fine—I don’t sleep next to my phone. And it’s easy to track what happens to the emails and texts, whether they went through or got a reply.

I also use my phone to take credit card payments. When I started my business after moving back here, I looked at getting onto the Visa machine at the salon, but you have to do a 3-year contract. If you’re in business for yourself, that’s hard because you don’t know how long you’ll be in any one place. Then I got my phone and found an app called Credit Card Machine that only required a 6-month contract. It stores the client’s contact info—all I have to do is enter the credit card number. It emails a receipt to me and to the client, all paperless and totally awesome. You can check online to make sure the payment went through, and it shows up in your bank account in a couple of days.

The Credit Card Machine app in Marketplace

How about marketing?

Facebook on my phone has been a major marketing tool. I take pictures with my phone to upload into my hair album on Facebook, before and after shots. Clients like to see themselves—I’ll put it up and get a Like immediately. They’re like, ‘I made it into the hair album!’

When I moved to Seattle, I started offering a free brow wax on your first appointment to build up my clientele. I passed out 500 flyers. When people come in, I plug them into my phone, and then they get my email newsletter. And then they start coming back as clients. There’s this one girl, a Facebook friend—I haven’t even met her in person yet—but she’s always Liking stuff I post in my hair album. So it’s just a matter of time before she becomes a client.

Why did you choose a Windows Phone?

To be honest, I’ve always been intimidated by technology. I wasn’t even on Facebook before I got my phone. I got the Windows Phone because it seemed so simple—I could see everything right there on the screen: a camera, your photos, how to get on Facebook, email. Also, I’m not the type of person who spends a whole day reading about how to use my phone. I was able to just figure it out.

This was huge for me. I needed to do it to be taken seriously. All my clients were like “Get out of here, you’re on Facebook now?” And I’ve told every client I have to get a Windows Phone.

Do you have any favorite apps?

I love OneBusAway. I used to see people using that at the bus stop and I dreamed of the day I could get it and know when the bus was coming, instead of standing in the rain and showing up to work—as a stylist—looking horrible.

Do you use your phone more for work or play?

My phone is my work is my personal life—all combined. My business is about friendships. My clients are real friends, and I hang out with them outside of work. Look, I got two texts and an email while we’ve been talking. ‘Do you have any openings?’—that’s what I like to see!