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!


In the Beginning…

Having begun this journey in a little town known as Miami, Oklahoma, it seems I have come full circle now, in this ever-changing beauty industry. Never did I dream I would find myself “starting over.” Through the years I have given spaces to rent in my business, or allow a commission type endeavor, to other beauty school graduates. I have watched as they struggled to make ends meet, waiting for people to “discover” them. Last April 25th, 2012, I sold my business in Oklahoma (then known as South Side Salon & Day Spa) and relocated to North Carolina. I now find myself waiting longer than my patience wants to, waiting to be “discovered”. Always wanting to do my own thing and not be dependent upon someone else to grow my business, I started out on my own in Apex, NC. After a full, excruciating 6 months, I am seeing a lot of promise.

When I started my first business in 1978, I had a second income in the form of my absolutely awesome husband. He has always encouraged me to be the very best I can be, and has provided opportunity for me to do just that. While building my first client base, he provided for me…never questioning my decisions. If my memory serves me well, it took only 3 months to build a client base worthy of real income. It’s been a bit longer this time around. Maybe in those early years, success was more easily attained because of my geographical domain. Situated in an area with equal distance between several small towns, I was privileged to absorb those in my community and its surrounding areas. It kept the residents from having to make a trip into town. Ahhhh…those were the days!!!

When I had down time in the salon of my first offerings of beauty, known as “Mary’s Place”, I could attend to the pressing household duties and always have a very neat and clean “castle” for my young husband, and dinner on the table when he got home. If I had only realized what he had actually given me…