How One Salon Owner Turned Tragedy Into Success

Chicago Salon Little Broken Things turned tragedy into success after a fire destroyed the building.

Within six weeks of opening the doors of her new, five-chair Chicago salon, Little Broken Things, Cassie Krepel got a call that a fire broke out. “My landlord’s son called and said ‘Oh, it’s not that bad.’ I remember thinking we’d close for the weekend and clean up. It was so far from ‘not that bad,’” she says.

Eleven months later, Krepel managed to turn things around in a major way, and the business was up and running. She had to gut the salon down to the brick walls because of smoke damage, and since it was a complete renovation, she also had to make sure everything was up to code for the city, including the plumbing. She took it as an opportunity to introduce extra touches. “It’s given us a second chance,” she says. “Who gets that opportunity when they open a brand-new business?”

Unsure what to expect, she told her stylists to do what they needed to, and they found work at different salons. Now, Krepel is taking the time to build a salon culture and making new hires to support it. 

After the experience, her advice: “Go through your insurance policy with a fine-tooth comb,” she says. “The next step I’ll take is to buy the building my salon is in. When it comes down to it, no one will care as deeply about your business as you do.”

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