Better Business - January 2015

Going the Distance

An idea with small beginnings can make a big change, as founders of two nonprofits discovered. Africa New Life Ministries in Kigali, Rwanda and Academy of Hair Design in Springfield, MO partnered in 2012 to open a nonprofit cosmetology school in Rwanda that helps women create salon jobs to achieve financial security. Dream Beauty Academy, located at Africa New Life Ministries’ Dream Center, began with seven students, and today about 20 are enrolled. “When you walk into the academy, you can see these girls wouldn’t be happy in any other profession,” says Christie Gonzales, who co-owns the academy with her husband David. “They love to make people beautiful and they are learning about their own beauty, inside and out.”

Similarly, Heather Packer, stylist at New York City’s Cutler Salon, wanted to make a difference after visiting India several times. She founded nonprofit Fearless Beauty with the goal to empower women in the beauty industry by providing education and mentorship. Packer recently hosted an event to raise funds for the first project, a haircutting school for impoverished women in Rishikesh, India. “What we do is so useful and simple,” says Packer, “and it empowers us and the people we touch.”


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The Big Idea

Tips for kick-starting a humanitarian vision

1. Understand the vision. Keep the initial goals very simple and clear, says Packer.

2. Get help. Find a partner involved in nonprofits; paperwork and legalities aren’t easy, says Gonzales. Familiarize yourself with nonprofit laws and regulations.

3. Raise funds. Be conscious about a reliable and diverse revenue stream, through a mix of big donors and events, Gonzales says. —C.H. and D.C.

Art of the Matter

Kaya Beauty Lounge, opened in October 2014 in New York City, is lending its walls to local artists. Owner and consultant Rahul Patel allows artists to display pieces free until sold, and negotiates a share in the sale, a majority of which he donates to charity. Patel says salon owners considering an artist partnership should first think about the purpose behind incorporating art culture into a salon space. “It’s a social cause more than business for us,” says Patel, adding that visitors of the gallery aren’t pressured to buy salon products or receive services. “It’s challenging to evaluate art, curate, exhibit and take care of the legalities,” he says, “but if you’re passionate about it, it will be a very rewarding experience.” —D.C.

Fresh Perspective

American Salon Better Business Network members share their salon improvements for 2015.

At Rejuvenation Spa in Madison, WI, New Year’s resolutions begin in October. The salon’s management team attends a planning retreat, where they review current sales numbers, benchmarks and team surveys about the salon’s culture. After assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (a SWOT analysis), management narrows the suggestions down to three WIGS [wildly important goals], says Tina Morschauser, stylist and owner of Rejuvenation Spa.

The salon’s three WIGS this year are communication, training and focusing on the New Talent Salon, a nearby building that serves as a training facility and overflow space. The goals for the new year are to improve daily staff huddles, the procedural binder and the interview process; focus training on the front-desk staff, service providers and spa attendants; and enhance recruiting and team-leader training. Morschauser recommends that every salon team perform a SWOT analysis and to not take survey comments personally. “Salon owners need to know that their team wants to work for a successful salon that will grow their careers,” she says.

Gail Ardolino, owner of G Salon in North Haven, CT, encourages salons to uncover challenges each year. Her goals are to increase service dollars through continued education; promote assistants to new-talent stylists; and host more client workshops, events and charitable activities. G Salon staff is in the final stages of creating a team for onsite beauty services at weddings and events, which Ardolino hopes will grow this year. “Find what you love, but also find what challenges you,” Ardolino says. “Continue to grow, learn and improve.” —C.H.