The Iowa Small Business Development Center at Kirkwood Community College provided business plan and financing assistance to Juliet Pae-Corr so she could grow and expand her beauty salon/spa business.
Juliet Pae-Corr had always wanted to be a hair stylist. Raised by a single mom after the death of her father when Juliet was a toddler, she grew up an independent child, helping out at home and participating in every sport that was available in her small southeast Iowa hometown. When she reached an age for career planning, both her mother and a school guidance counselor did their best to direct Juliet away from her long-held hairstyling career ambitions. Juliet acquiesced and studied Broadcast Journalism, but she stayed with the profession for only a few months before her life-long desire to be a hair stylist asserted itself.
By this time, Juliet had new responsibilities— a young family of her own. Nevertheless, she set about getting the training necessary to became a stylist, and because of her young family she did so at an accelerated pace, completing the required 2100 hours of study in just ten months. During this time, Juliet’s husband worked two full-time jobs to support their family and Juliet’s education.
Her training complete, Juliet accepted a position at a local salon and took her turn at becoming the family’s breadwinner so her husband could return to school. Juliet was renting a salon chair when the salon’s proprietor decided to close the business and relocate to another city. Juliet began looking for a chair in another salon but soon realized that she wasn’t entirely satisfied with a rental arrangement; there were too many rules and restrictions and little opportunity to engage her own artistic side. Not wanting to stifle her own unique talents, Juliet decided to open her own shop.
Within a short week of making the decision to become a business owner, Juliet found a small, suitable location directly across from the police station in downtown Cedar Rapids. The building owner said Juliet was free to make any changes to the property that she wished, so Juliet spent about $5,000 of her own money to turn the facility into the appealing salon that she envisioned.
Fix Salon opened in May 2008, but her elation was short-lived; just weeks after Juliet’s salon opened for business, a 500-year-flood devastated the city’s downtown. Juliet’s dream business was under flood waters that reached to the building’s second floor.
After the flood, Juliet was quickly offered chairs in other salons, but she immediately began looking for a new location for her own salon. She never considered not owning her own salon. Furthermore, she was committed to staying in the downtown area. With a clear understanding of the changing demographics of the immediate area, she realized that a salon would be a vital service.
Juliet looked at several opportunities in her search for an appropriate location to reopen her business. One day she spotted a “For Rent” sign in a 3,000 square foot facility. While this was much larger than her spot near the police station, Juliet nevertheless signed a five-year lease on the property where Fix Salon is now located. She knew her financial numbers and knew that she had the funds to pay her bills. Starting as one person, her business had six stylists after only six months and grew to nine by the end of the year.
Initially, Juliet rented chairs to stylists, who then operated independent businesses from within Fix Salon. Presently, she is in the process of changing to a commission-based relationship with her stylists. This will give Juliet more control over her salon, plus this gives her the added responsibilities associated with managing employees. Juliet considers it important to mentor her stylists; she holds monthly meetings and helps the stylists set goals for themselves. She is clear about wanting to be successful and equally clear about wanting her stylists to be successful as well. Juliet considers their working relationship a team endeavor.
In December 2013, Juliet acquired a business partner who became forty percent owner of Fix Salon. The partner oversees floor activities while Juliet manages ‘behind the scenes’ duties.
Juliet first contacted the Kirkwood Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in 2006 for advice on starting a business. She then came back to the SBDC in 2012 and worked with then-director Al Beach to develop a business plan so she could grow her business. Juliet had made a conscious decision earlier not to borrow money or assume any credit card debt, and for four years she had done just that. However, with some success in hand as well as a desire to improve and expand the services she was offering her clients, Juliet was finally ready to assume a loan.
Juliet went back to the Kirkwood SBDC in 2014 for additional help. This time current SBDC director Scott Swenson assisted her in revising her business plan, plus reviewed and edited her financial statements and gave her instructions on how to present her expansion proposal to her bank, to secure a loan.
Juliet says, “It has been remarkable to work first with Al and now Scott. With the people at the Small Business Development Center, I am confident knowing that I have a team behind me, one that I can contact any time. I know these are people who want me to be successful.”
With the help of the SBDC, Juliet acquired an SBA-guaranteed loan from Hills Bank that she is just starting to use to incorporate updates and improvements to her salon. In her industry it is important to stay fresh and up-to-date, so renovations will include rearranging shampoo bowls, adding a color-processing lounge to give clients more privacy, adding a changing area where clients can slip into gowns to protect their clothing from hair-processing solutions, and even adding a shower. An efficient layout will allow clients to have more than one service simultaneously (hair and nails, for example). More space will be allocated to retail sales as well.
The new color lounge will allow clients to actually watch their colors being mixed—not so different from what one would see at a favorite beverage bar. Laundry facilities will be modernized, and the current break room, which serves as a combination break area, laundry, and office, will be moved to the downstairs area. The updated facility will have twelve chairs so it has room to expand while staying within the area of growth that Juliet sees for her business. She plans to fill all of those chairs within 18 months of completing the planned updates.
Juliet adds, “When operating your own business, you need all the advice you can possibly find. The Small Business Development Center provides access to a network of people and services that are invaluable as I continue to grow my business.”
Fix Salon is located at 110 3rd Ave SW in downtown Cedar Rapids. It offers a variety of salon, spa, and beauty-related services in an attractive and comfortable environment. Facilities are clean and orderly and designed to make the salon experience one that a client can truly enjoy. For more information on this fresh, energetic salon business, go to www.fixsaloncr.com or to its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/fixsaloncr.