Joanne Giordano and Laura McLain — admitted business novices in 2012 — marked a major milestone late last year, when they marked the fifth anniversary of their downtown Sarasota hair salon.
Business is going so well for the pair, they recently doubled the size of the Apartment 12 Hair Studio storefront, on Main Street. Revenue has grown every year as well, though they decline to disclose specific figures.
Not coming from a business background, Giordano and McLain had to learn many lessons on the fly. One big challenge, Giordano says, is managing the business while still working as a stylist. “We're behind the chair all day long,” she says.
A key lesson they say they've learned is the importance of delegating. For example, McClain says they partner often with other local entities, such as payroll services, website creation and design work.
They've also sought counsel from clients. “We have a lot of great clients with big businesses in town,” McLain says, and they've taken advantage of the opportunity to ask them for business advice.
Prior to opening the salon, they say they did a lot of thinking and planning. “We knew everything down to the font before we opened,” Giordano says.
In an industry with significant turnover, Apartment 12 bucks the trend by maintaining a steady base of employees — seven hairstylists, including Giordano and McLain, and four full time assistants. To try to ensure a potential employee is a good fit, they have candidates shadow them in the salon for a day.
They also make a point of helping people they don't end up hiring by suggesting other salons that could be a better match. As a female-driven business, McLain says, “We like to empower other women.”