This installment of Celebrating Geauga Small Businesses focuses on Jennifer Swartz, owner of B. Anthony’s Salon in Chardon, founded in 2014.
GCPL: What is the story behind your business? How did it begin?
Jennifer Swartz: Well, I was not even looking to open a salon. It just started evolving and then took a quick shove after I lost my job of 11 years, so that’s motivation enough. It really all started when I stopped and looked at what was formerly Patrick’s Pizza and the wheels started spinning. I hooked up with NMS, a local accounting firm in Chardon, and they helped me run numbers and decide if this was even a possibility. Then we had to decide what opening costs would be and how in the heck I was going to do it.
We approached Geauga Credit Union in Burton and applied for some personal loans and waited for a response and halted any other forward moving action because I was still working and did not want to make any decisions until I knew if we would have the means to even start the salon. I did not want to lose my job, but, ultimately that did in fact happen so it was go, go, go time!! Who opens a salon in February, the worst salon month ever? Me!
GCPL: What challenges did you face in getting started & how did you overcome them?
JS: I still overcome challenges daily. That is all part of running a business. Challenges included all the hidden, unknown license requirements and permits needed.
GCPL: What challenges do you face in your day-to-day operations, and how do you overcome them?
JS: Scheduling, ordering, family life, clients’ schedules.
GCPL: What is your favorite part of owning a business?
JS: Watching it grow.
GCPL: Why did you decide to start your business? What inspired it?
JS: I decided to start a business because I believe a salon is a place of friendship, fun, healing, and often a place where we may be mourning loss or celebrating a marriage. I wanted to have a place that promoted growth and had a culture of people that had a similar thought process. A place that offered a more unique experience. Whereas I admired my past employer, I was thinking differently and wanted a different vibe. I get inspiration from so many sources it is hard to narrow it down.
GCPL: What kinds of training and education did starting your business require (College, trade shows, seminars/conferences, etc.)? Have you ever used the library to help with this?
JS: A cosmetology license issued by the state that requires 1500 hours of training and an internship is required to work as a hairdresser. This can be an accelerated program with Brown Aveda as an adult or as a school-aged student in a career center such as Auburn Career Center or A-Tech in Ashtabula county. The role of business owner required no formal training. I, however, think that is crap. I, along with my salon coordinator, believe that training should be a requirement with banks giving money out for start up costs. I never realized how important it is to know your bottom line! Now I know why a conventional loan requires a business plan. Most businesses fail because of lack of planning and I am fortunate that we have been successful. I have hired an amazing coach that is working one-on-one with me and helping me to achieve far more than I can put into words. He is going to help us achieve greatness. And did I use the library, many times!! I needed to do many of things online throughout the day and the library was right across the street and always helpful.
GCPL: What resources did/do you find most useful in helping you to start, grow, and maintain your business (Books, software, training materials, databases, etc.)?
JS: Honestly NMS was my biggest resource and they still are. Facebook groups that are dedicated to my industry are a great place to go and get advice on smaller details.
Trade shows are also great for networking. I have met some key players and received some of my best advice from these shows. The Cleveland Convention Center hosts one every year in October and its host is my biggest supplier, so it’s a very exciting show for us.
GCPL: What advice do you have for people who want to start a business?
JS: My advice would be to find the appropriate groups and similar businesses to pull information from. I thought I knew exactly what I was getting into because I had been working in this industry over a decade before I opened. Truth be told, I was blind and hopeful. Opening a business takes more than passion. You need to understand the bottom line. If you have never punched numbers, I encourage you to connect with someone who can help guide you and give you perspective on doing this side of the business. Connect with as many people and groups as you can and ask questions. Get educated on everything. Know the answers before you jump in.