I had to call in all the troops for help to get the place ready for city inspection this week! A family business means everyone pitches in and does their part. You would be amazed how much work you can get out of a 6 year old with the right motivation! It also doesn't hurt that I am pretty good at delegating so if you are walking through the doors in the next 10 days expect to be given a job. There is no time for idle hands right now so when my friend came by yesterday I made her put in new lightbulbs while we talked.
The first thing I'm going to show you when you come in is the very impressive structure that my husband Steve built to make sure that my 50 year old mirrors were secure. You must Ohhh and Ahhhh when you see it! The guidelines were that I only wanted 2 legs instead of 3, they couldn't lean on anything, and I didn't want to mess up my beautiful new floors or ceiling with attaching them to it; which I assumed was impossible. It took him a couple days of thinking, some conversations with his advisor (my dad) and a few extra trips to Menards but he created an engineering masterpiece that is so secure you wouldn't believe it isn't attached to concrete! Reason number 5491 why I married him.
I'm really lucky to have such a loving and supportive family and friends that are constantly asking how they can help. Steve is a rockstar when it comes to picking up the slack at home and is always willing to do some heavy lifting. The boys are learning that we work hard and play hard but they are less than thrilled about spending their spring break at the shop instead of the beach this year. We told them that sacrifices now mean that we will have the freedom to do what we want later. I try to think about all the important life lessons I'm teaching instead of the mom guilt that comes with all that.
As I write this I have less than 10 days (9 days, 17 hours) to have this place ready to open. I have the same deadline for getting our house ready to sell! What is the world record for no sleep? Because I'm about to beat it!
Oh the baby steps are so frustrating! Things are coming along at the shop but we have been fighting the wall repair. Today I was really happy to see we are moving in the right direction again, however slowly that may be. If everything goes according to plan we could be finished painting this week!
One of my top 10 least favorite things to do is pick out paint colors, fixtures, or anything that has to do with decorating. I am easily overwhelmed by the 50 shades of grey that I have to scan to pick a wall color but I think we have it narrowed down. I mentioned before that I'm going for an industrial look so I see a lot of those crisp colors. I also picked out the new awnings today. We will be removing the black ones on the front of the building (that I believe were original in 1969) and replacing them with a slate colored valance with darker charcoal trim.
So although it doesn't look like much, those baby steps will, in a couple weeks, turn into a huge transformation that someone who hasn't been following the progress all along will see as an overnight success. Isn't it funny how that happens? The ones who are not there for the tiny wins or the baby steps miss the best part of the story. Without the struggle, what is the win? Empty.
This reminds me of a note from the Universe I received.
I still have to pinch myself when I open the door to my first shop, but it is really happening! Renovations were off to a great start. We got walls out, new walls in and fixtures moved around. The poor maintenance man, Scott, has been amazing. He spent the better part of a week trying to get down thru almost 50 years of wallpaper. We spent alot of time this week thinking about other options for the walls because that stuff is not coming off by April! I also decided to do some electrical upgrades so that adds a little to the timeline but not as much as you would think. Everyone has been amazing to work with from the contractors to the landlord. I know I am going to be really happy here. This was a dream I didn't know I had and it is turning out better than I ever could have imagined.
Here is a quick tour and check out our Facebook page or Pinterest pages to follow the entire process, Start to finish.
I spent the summer with the boys. We traveled, and spent our days at the pool. I kept kicking around this idea but didn't really know what I was supposed to do with it. I agreed to do some consulting work with a friend that owned a salon and was a former business partner at MICHE. She and her partner hired me as their business manager when school started again. I was going to help them fill the empty chairs in the salon and do some team building and personal development. That was my area of expertise and it helped me see how a salon is run day to day. I enjoyed it, but it still didn't feel right. I missed my team from MICHE and I missed being on top of my game, nationally recognized and totally crushing all my goals.
Turns out, this friend and her business partner were not getting along the way they should and things were way worse than I imagined. I tried to help, but the partner and I didn't see eye to eye and she asked me to leave. I was back to figuring things out but by this time I had decided that I wasn't going to spend the money and a year of my life at beauty school. I still felt pulled in that direction but hadn't figured it out yet. I had my hands in a couple other businesses and I kept saying that I had all the pieces to the puzzle I just couldn't figure out how they all fit together. I got a SCORE mentor to help me write a business plan and launched an online boutique. I resolved to focus on my online store for a year and see where that took me. I felt really good about that smart move and started moving forward.
Fast forward a couple months and the friend contacted me for coffee; she needed to talk. Things had gotten worse and it was time for her to move on and close her salon. She wasn't ready to retire, didn't want to go work somewhere else and didn't have the energy to start over again. I told her my crazy, I hear voices story and being the great friend that she is, she didn't give me the UMMMKAY look. It wasn't the time to dream a big dream, she was in crisis mode. I remembered how it felt to close a business I worked so hard to build; I could be there for her.
I had a couple of possible locations in mind for her and spent that week calling around. We booked an appointment to go look at a local plaza that had 2 former salons. I went for support initially but I would be lying if I didn't at least consider the possibility that this was the universe aligning for me.
The first place we looked at was turn key, I could have opened it tomorrow. I could feel myself getting excited about the possibilities but there wasn't anything special about it. Then we went to the second location that was a salon for nearly 50 years. The agent warned us that it was special and needed some TLC but it was a bigger space and didn't hurt to look at it.
I walked in and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I am a firm believer that if you are ever involved in something that gives you goosebumps that is exactly where you are supposed to be. This place was amazing, you could feel the history there. There was this giant piece of industrial art hanging in the middle of the room and what I can only describe as a disco ball looking decor surrounding it. Sounds nice, right?
On the drive home my mind was spinning with the possibilities. I walked in and was talking a mile a minute to Steve. How awesome could this be... it has everything I would want... and I can afford it! He smiled and reminded me I said the same thing about the house we live in! If it felt right, I should go with my gut.
I talked to my friend the same day and asked if I build it, will she come? Between the two of us we could afford the rent and I could have my boutique and she could rent from me and not have to build an entire salon again on her own. It made sense but I had never done anything like this. I wasn't scared...but was that because I was too stupid to be scared or because I knew in my gut it was where I was supposed to be? I don't know, but I was too excited to think about that. Time will tell, I guess.
I was in negotiations with the landlord and a couple days later we were drafting a lease and starting renovations. It's easy to move fast when your inner voice keeps telling you to take the next step forward.
I am very focused and listen for those whispers. I get them all the time, this one from my favorite life coach BRENDON BUCHARD popped up in my timeline and gave me goosebumps again.
So here I am, almost a year to the day that I heard that voice tell me that I was supposed to go to beauty school and I am opening my own salon. Not at all the path that I expected for myself, and I have no idea how it is going to turn out.
But I don't have to know the how, just the why. Now that's a story for another day….
You've probably heard this story before if we are close enough friends. I haven't felt comfortable telling just anyone because I understand how crazy it sounds. I'm afraid people will give me that look that you get when you say a voice told you to do something. What? You don't know this look? The UmmmmKay look?
I've got a couple of these "then I heard this voice say..." stories. They only come when I'm seeking something and waiting for an answer. I go on silent retreats for days to be able to tap into this voice when life gets really hairy. This one goes like this...
So there I was, in this salon waiting room, with my mom and sister waiting to get my hair done for my brother's wedding. Just a month before the startup company that I had spent the last 6 years building closed abruptly and I was deep in a midlife, what am I going to do now, crisis. I had given my all to this company and I ran the gamut of emotions that you feel with a life loss, bouncing from anger to depression to acceptance and back again. I had resolved to take the summer off and spend it with the boys and not even think about what my next bold move was going to be until I had fully mourned the bad breakup I had been through. I didn't need a rebound career. I'm just going to be single for awhile and find myself.
So sitting in this hard plastic chair, I had just zoned out a little. My mom and sister were talking next to me and I was staring at the wall. Being a bit of a tomboy, I can't say I've spent a lot of time in salons. I'm certainly not comfortable there; I don't color my hair, don't do my nails. This isn't my domain. I always considered it vain to spend time making myself look pretty, but sitting there it suddenly occurred to me that style is a form of artistic expression. (DUH, I know. I just never thought of it that way) So as I was contemplating this new found appreciation for the craft I suddenly felt the busy room get silent and this voice inside me screamed "THIS IS WHERE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE"
WHAT? That doesn't even make any sense. What do you mean this is where I'm supposed to be? I am just getting a quick updo. Maybe have the chic slap on a smoky eye and some mascara so I look like I made an effort for the wedding pictures. About that time my sister interrupted my deep thoughts with a "Why are you making that face" I said I dunno, I think I'm going to go to beauty school. My mom looked at me like I was nuts, and was probably calculating how much that wasted Finance degree cost them. My sister leaned over to her and whispered "She's lost her shit" She was right.
After an hour of talking to this young, fresh out of school stylist while she created her art, the business side of my brain kicked in and I started calculating how much money there was to be made in this industry. By the time we left there I had texted 2 friends who owned salons (with the preface) "don't laugh, but.... I think I'm going to enroll in beauty school."
I met up with my hubby at the wedding and told him my plan and he seriously LOL'ed. You don't know how to work a flat iron and you are going to beauty school? But now the seed had been planted. I called the local cosmetology school on Monday and scheduled a visit. I watched way too many you tube makeup tutorials and familiarized myself with this store called ULTA. It's a totally overwhelming wearhouse size store with nothing but hair and makeup crap. Seriously, I had a panic attack the first time I went in there.
I don't know why that inner voiced screamed at me that way but when a message is that loud and clear, you don't ignore it. I wasn't sure if this was going to be the first chapter of my memoirs where I explain how I got my start or a cautionary tale of why you don't make important life decisions when you are are in the middle of a midlife crisis. Either way I was going to walk down this road a bit and really tap into that intuition, listen for the whispers (because the voice doesn't usually yell, unless it is super important) and see where it takes me.
What have I got to loose?
Today is day 1. I signed the lease on my first location. It happened so fast. It was a feeling at first, then an opportunity, and finally the pieces of this puzzle I've been trying to solve all year came together at last. It all made sense, but signing that paper made me want to jump up and down and puke at the same time. I think that is how you know you are on to something big.
A little history.
The business was sold in 1974 to Rich and Kathy Kurland who ran it together for over 40 years. They raised their family in this salon and you can't go out to lunch with them without every other person stopping to share a memory. Everyone knows this wonderful couple, which made it easy for me to track them down and invite them to share in the reopening of this iconic place that they built. They finally retired in May of 2016 and now enjoy spending their time on the golf course. I do hope they still find time to visit this place they had a hand in building.
The second I walked into this space, I knew it was where I was supposed to be. I wasn't seriously considering this for myself but when the right opportunity and the right person collide, you have to make things happen. My favorite part of the entire place is this giant piece of industrial art. I asked Rich and Kathy what the story was and they were not totally sure, they believe that it was purchased or made in Chicago for the salon by the original owner. It is a roughly 3ft by 6ft cylinder with mirrors all over it. It was there when the place opened in 1969 and as long as I'm alive, it will be there.
There are 6 stations facing this art in a circle. The ceiling is recessed to allow for another circle full of tiny mirrors around all the chairs and a wheel spoke accent piece.
The first thing you notice when you walk in the front door is the desk and credenza that were original 1969 fixtures. They are very high quality and were well cared for so we will be keeping them. The walls were curved floor to ceiling which, I imagine, would have been very top shelf in 1969. There is nearly 50 years of wallpaper on the walls and I'm dreading the process of getting all that taken down.
I am often asked why I say "I love your guts" or where that phrase comes from. It's hard for me to remember exactly because it is something my family has always said, but I believe it started out as "I love your filthy, stikin' guts" said in my dad's best John Wayne voice.
I remember as a kid when someone said "I hate your guts" you knew they really meant it! They don't just hate what you did, they hate the person you are and everything you stand for! When I say I love your guts, it means the opposite. I see who you are on the inside and I love it.
It's as simple as that in my adult brain, I love your soul. So you know when I say I love your guts, I really mean it.