Ooooh…the Ambience!

Down through the years of working in the beauty industry, I have found that I am pretty much determined to have the area in which I am working, looking the best possible, with what I have to work with. It has always been important to me to have a place that I could enjoy and have my clients enjoy as well. My belief is that whatever we give our hands to do, we should always give it the best we have, with what we have to do with. I’m not entirely sure when all that kicked in for me. Some parts of my life seem to have conveniently disappeared from my memory.

So far, I’ve had three different locations in which I’ve built a business. But before I opened any of those doors, each had to be presentable and ready for people to cross the threshold with “oohs” and “ahhhs”. The open sign didn’t come on until I was satisfied with the appearance of the building (inside and out) , that I would be inviting my potential clients into.

To begin my journey in this industry, Mary’s Place was birthed in early 1978. Our double-car garage, became the perfect place for this adventure. I loved it there for many reasons. Just starting my career it provided access to my home where, in those slow moments of building a client base, I could tend to household duties. We remodeled the shop area only three times during those first 20 years of business. While there, our children were born, raised, and home educated. B F Goodrich (the tire company my husband worked for), closed its doors in 1986 only to find they had closed the wrong one. How does that happen? Many, not only weren’t eligible for transfer, but homes were lost…families split up…many declared bankruptcy. Yet, Mary’s Place still maintained it’s posture and continued going strong.

May 9th, 2002, we introduced our second business, South Side Salon and Day Spa “An Escape from the Ordinary”, to the township of Miami, OK. located at 108 A. Street S.E. Complete with large indoor fountain in the waiting area, hanging ferns…inside and out, a facial room, and 4 styling stations sandwiched in-between the pedicure and manicure areas. We, with several other stylists, were there for only 2 years because of numerous night-time breaks-ins. I’ll never forget the day I came in to town to open the shop, only to find my back door had been virtually destroyed by the intruders trying to get past the 3 different secure locks. We had renters above our business that were looking for money. Trying to find a way to get in and out easily, they had climbed upon the facial room bed (left nice footprints) and maneuvered the ceiling tiles around, to see if that might get them up to their room. Seriously? Did they not have a floor to walk on? The police then told me they were drug users that have a record. Nice…

So, I found a more visible place on the North end of town that faced the city’s main street. We purchased the building at 1829 North Main, gutted it (it was realllly old and nasty), drew up plans for what I wanted, hired our handy-man friend to “get er done”, and waited for my time to get inside to put the finishing touches on it. All the while, surrounding businesses and housing occupants watched with curiosity. A transformation was taking place like they never expected would. We rented for the first 2 years, then purchased in 2006. It’s not something I would recommend…to remodel a building while renting. It had always been my intention to purchase it, and I just couldn’t work in a place that wasn’t presentable to the public. But now I had given the previous owner a reason to up the selling price because of the value added to it.

Business grew quickly as we continued updating the exterior of the building. Grecian (anything that says Italy and the surrounding territory) has always been my style. S/W Ver: 96.B0.0ARSo large white columns went out front to support a new black awning than shaded the somewhat rounded steps, with beautiful concrete urns from Stonehill Gardens (in Missouri), to sit alongside them. Matching awnings went over every outside window. We painted the siding to bring out the lighter colors of the brick that covered half-way up the building. Changed out some of the windows, put a new roof on, added insulation, and completed the exterior with an awesome new double paned and bronzed front door (not the one in this pic) that didn’t ice up during the winter months. At that point, we decided the pedicure room needed a touch of class, so installed a beautiful Baja Fan and added some cane trees, candles and shelving. We brought our fountain from the previous location to sit between the waiting area and our work stations, and after placing the now huge Boston Ferns where they looked their best…sitting on columns…we were ready for anyone coming in our front (or back) door! And here we stayed until March of 2012.

It was in August of that same year when we packed up a few personal items for me and shipped a few business things to North Carolina. We had made the decision to get another business started before the holidays. That’s when Elements Salon, with the tag line, “Unearth Your Natural Beauty”, became a reality in Apex, NC under the umbrella of Sola Salons. Moving to a state where I was virtually unknown, caused me to choose a small suite, to keep my back-up money from disappearing too quickly.

Wall color (sticks and stones) had been chosen and applied. Flooring done, cabinetry installed, and all they were waiting on was my shipment to arrive so the fan from my previous business, could be hung. Everything was finished in a timely manner, and opening day came! September 1st, 2012 was a defining day in my life. Never did I consider what had taken place ever being a reality! I knew that within 6 months if I was going to make it in North Carolina. After a LOT of foot work distributing flyers and talking with the people who so graciously accepted my intrusion on their day, I began sticking close to the business. Hours were spent waiting for the phone to ring, or someone to look as if they were lost…at which time I positioned myself to accept a potentially new client. Almost without fail, they had no idea what they were to do once coming in the front door of the Sola Salons. They expected a receptionist, and found only a fork in their road (the entrance). You can turn right, or left, upon which you will find numerous rooms with either opened or closed doors. At last count there were 21 stylists in various rooms here. Each have their own business set up, as if Sola didn’t exist. Total confusion to the client. Where were they suppose to go? I took EVERY opportunity to greet them and ask if they were looking for someone in particular, or did they just need help finding someone to do their hair? And that’s how many of my clients came to be. The rest have come from word of mouth. The absolute best way to advertise.

Elements Relax pic

It’s been 8 and 1/2 months now since start-up here. Things are looking up, but I’m not there yet. Not to the place where I could support myself if needed. On many occasions, I have told myself to relax…it would happen in due time. I found this very appropriate sign to display as a reminder. Pretty funny, eh?

I had brought a few of my favorite things with me, from the shop in Oklahoma. A bust of a Greek God (or something that resembles that), was among the “have to haves”. Ha!

Also, a column that had been a booster for another column, that had one of my very large boston ferns resting on it, and had been the recipient of excessive water run-offs, which in turn caused a beautiful (in my opinion) stain that couldn’t be reproduced by man-made efforts. Yep, it had to come with me.

A couple of my treasures from Miami, OK.

A couple of my treasures from Miami, OK.

There are many elements that make up the whole. So, I decided to add some vines interlaced with LED lighting and various greenery, to help make the statement I was shooting for. My son-in-law put a couple of old boards together for me, on which I glued the name of the salon, and placed just beneath the vines. It turned out pretty good…right?

So, being the obsessive compulsive person that everyone claimDIY project with help of my awesome son-in-law of many talents.s I am (don’t want to disappoint), I must add to what is already here. My work is never done. 😉 It’s not that I necessarily go out looking for something to spend money on…it’s just that as I’m out and about, things throw themselves in my path and simply call attention to themselves.  My next purchases were a turn of the century lantern and an Italian looking bike. Which demanded a picture or some sort of accent behind the accent. Sitting up against a bare wall, just made it look lonely.

Love is all you need

Love is all you needElements Fan

The only fountain I could fit in Suite 117

The only fountain I could fit in Suite 117

I’m sure I’ll soon need a much bigger place, just so that I can create a little more ambience, when I’m not doing what I came here to do.  You’ll see a few of my favorite things here amongst these random pictures.

Elements figurineI’m a sucker for certain types of busts…and so, there you have it.

If you have ventured into the beauty industry, you too have the ability to create a place of excellence…not just for the client, but for yourself and those that might work with you. Now get busy! Make it the very best you can! Ambience is crucial…in my humble opinion.

Let passion guide you, Passionistas!

Giving Up Is Not an Option

Well…I suppose, in truth, anything is an option. But when we set our minds, our hearts, on something that is filled with hope, giving up will haunt us with the “what ifs” for the rest of our lives. Is that really what we want? If we are honest with ourselves, we won’t be saying “I don’t care”, as I’ve heard others say when their backs are up against that proverbial wall. You know the wall I speak of, because we all face it (or our backs do), at some point in our lives. And it’s usually right when we least expect it, things begin to turn around.

There will be times we are pulled between what seems to be two different worlds. The safe, do nothing world…and the challenge filled, reach for the stars world. In reality, the “safe” world isn’t really that safe. It’s just a place where we think we can breathe free, with little to no challenges. Again, truth must be faced. No matter where we find ourselves to be, there will be times when our minds do battle. For one thing or the other. If we are still breathing, life must happen.

So, work is hard. Business is hard. Life can show itself to be hard. But what is the alternative? Let me be clear. Life isn’t hard 24/7. Life is what we make it. How we face the “hard” issues. There are times, God will pull us aside, and whisper “peace” in our ears, especially when we allow the cares of this life to pull us away from His grace, His peace, His reality. And at that moment, we really do breathe free.

Tomorrow is always a new day…a new opportunity, a new way of looking at life and it’s challenges. Change happens on a consistant basis, and if we position ourselves to receive of its goodness, the bright days will show themselves faithful.

What are you passionate about? What have you given your heart to do? It doesn’t necessarily have to be about the profession you have chosen, but can hold true even in the trenches of life in general.

As we put our hands to the task in front of us, whatever that might be, we will also reap the rewards. We won’t reap, if at first, we don’t sow.

Never give up, Passionistas!

Never say Never

Never in a million years would I have guessed my “fork in the road” would lead me off the well-worn, already conquered obstacles road, that it Elements Fork in the Road 3did. My husband and I have faced, and defeated, many of those nasty difficulties we must forge through in the course of a lifetime. Those that really mattered anyway, and unlike Alice in Wonderland, we usually knew where we wanted to go.

August 2012, brought a whole new adventure for us. That was when we made the decision to pack up as much as I would need for a short period of time, and headed toward North Carolina. Having left my home of 37 years, surprisingly, the trip was a really good one. I felt no remorse as we got further and further down the road. We had fun along the way, not being in any hurry. The horizon looked promising, even though we knew there would be new obstacles to face. We knew our future depended on our attitude and the hope God had put inside us for our last hurrah, or as some would say, “The place of spreading the icing on the cake.”

My husband would stay in Oklahoma, until our house sold, to move to where he was taking me. We weren’t comfortable leaving our house empty, and felt it was the appointed time to get the new salon business started before the holidays of 2012, and really believed the wait would be only a couple of months, at the most. So, off we went. And now, here it is 8 months later, and he is still there…and I’m here. That’s a really big bummer. Yet, it won’t be forever…

Those of you that have kept up with this business blog will remember the post titled “Passion, Patience, and Persistence”.  It’s something anyone starting out in business, will need. The three P’s. I remember those first few months way back in 1978, when I started my very first business, and thought I would never make it this far. Fast forward to 2012 and starting over in a new state some 1200 miles away, I am once again reminded of the three P’s. As I sit here writing this, I’m once again amazed at how quickly the years seem to have slipped by us.

This new business of mine is located in Apex, NC, in a Market Square with other types of businesses. Yet in my particular building, there are other beauty salons in close proximity to me. Like next door, close. It’s a whole different set-up than what I had grown accustomed to in Oklahoma. I’ve always had a “stand-alone” building in which to do business. I liked it like that. But change has happened, and I adjust pretty well to change, it would seem.  I rent a room…a suite…from an umbrella salon called Sola Salons. Not much of a compromise of old passions. Instead of owning my building, I simply rent a room to house my business in. The area my room is located in, has many rooms rented out to 22 other stylists, and one Esthetician.  I was the only one in this industry starting afresh with no client base…at all. Well, I think the esthetician was beginning fresh too. When asked how I was doing, I would declare that I was “hemorrhaging” at the moment. In other words, a lot of money was going out the door in rent and professional products, along with purchases to make the room look as good as it could. But I knew it wouldn’t last. I made the statement, “I’ll know in 6 months if I’m going to make it here.” I felt I would know the signs of business health within that period of time. Yet, I also knew it would take twice that long to build a sufficient client base to become a viable entity. Many were the days of waiting, hoping, praying…doing everything I knew to do to expand the business.

The time came when I was finally able to make rent and not depend on my Oklahoma business savings account. That felt really good, as I watched the numbers rise. Bleeding stopped. Yay!  And then what I was waiting on, happened! Clients began re-scheduling and even asking to be put on a “standing appointment” basis. Elements Salon was on its way up.  Now, all I need at this point, is a blood transfusion. A lot of money was taken from the savings account, and now it needs replenished. I’m still not where I want to be. It’s only been 8 months, so there is a lot of room for growth. I have way too many open schedules. But we’ll get there! It sorta feels as if the wind is at my back now. That’s a great place to breathe a little easier in. Out of the red and in the black now, albeit minimal. Regardless, the bills are being paid without assistance. Elements is sitting up now…not quite standing yet…but at least we’re not horizontal any longer.

The moral of the story is this…never give up on what you’ve been given to do. Many times we quit right before the break-through, thinking it just isn’t going to happen. We fail to make the curve in the road, and end up crashing and burning. I suppose it’s possible to choose the wrong profession. I will give you that, simply because I think we try our hand at different things hoping one might work for us, and too easily move on to the next idea, before giving it a real chance to blossom.  And there are times we don’t have a choice. We must have money to live. But, if that is the case, we should see those jobs as stepping-stones to get us across the torrent that is trying to sweep us away from what we love.

We must follow our passion, and watch our life change! Follow the road Passionistas! Possibly I’ll see you there and will be able to help you forge ahead.

Passionately…Mary

Is It Passion or Sheer Tenacity?

“The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” ~Walter Bagehot

I’m not a Darwinist. I don’t believe the take Darwin had on creation. Still, once in a while I’ll run across a quote from someone who did, and it has a truth that resounds with me…such as the one this particular blog was begun with. Bagehot was also a British businessman, economist, political journalist, and critic.

I have a daughter that some would say has a stubborn tenacity about her. If she has a passion about something, stay out of her way, because she will fight for it no matter how long it takes to see it come to fruition. She’s had her share of having to let go, but that never happens until she’s sure it cannot be resurrected…which takes a great deal of time, sweat, and tears. You’ve got to admire that kind of passion.

The definition of tenacity is simply “persistent determination”. Passion is “any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.” When the two marry, we have what we need to face any difficulty, any challenge, any resistance. In the absence of either, it’s not going to happen. You might as well find another profession.

To have tenacity without passion, our lives will be filled with sadness. We will work with little satisfaction. There will be no lasting satisfaction in our chosen profession or in anything actually. We’ll go home at the end of the day, tired and discouraged. It is the passion, the love for what we do, that keeps our tenacity exciting.

When passion is present, we can do what others say we cannot.