Practicing as a cosmetologist at Pearl’s Beauty Salon, Mrs. Sheppard began exercising her entrepreneurial muscles in 1965. Shortly prior to D.C.’s race riots of 1968, she found herself on the other side of the table as a shop owner collecting booth rent for herself.
Her inspiration for opening a beauty salon was, in large, a directive handed down from the shop owner, Mrs. Lovie Brown. While Mrs. Sheppard was very content maintaining her very established clientele and paying her $12 a week to operate with a 60/40 commission, her shop owner had other, more grand plans in mind for this flourishing cosmetologist. Three years later, Mrs. Brown decided that she would not continue renting a booth to Mrs. Sheppard. After all, after just two short years, Mrs. Sheppard’s clientele afforded her the ability to make a nice living on top of making Mrs. Brown approximately 40 thousand dollars a year.
Now, for those of you saying to yourself, ‘Forty thousand dollars per year is not that much!?’ Please keep in mind that this was in 1967 and at that time, forty thousand dollars translates to roughly $130 thousand a year in 2011.
Since her shop owner would no longer rent to her, and with such low rental rates, Mrs. Sheppard went into business for herself as a shop owner. She found a fully furnished shop that she leased with the option to buy at 1021 Whaler Pl., SE Washington, D.C. 20032. And the rest, as they say, is history!
After nearly being forced to go into business for herself, Mrs. Sheppard quickly adjusted her focus and took on the loftier goal of helping other young women to obtain their managers license. One thing she instilled in the young women fortunate enough to benefit from her assistance was that the space that they rented, to this very day, was and is a business within a business, and it must be treated as such. So quite naturally, she encouraged all of the cosmetologists that rented space or operated out of her shop to obtain their business licenses. As a matter of fact, when discussing her business’ proudest achievement, Mrs. Sheppard noted that teaching other cosmetologists to do the same thing she did sat on the top of her list. She also stressed that “If you are serious about your profession, you could EASILY do the same”.
On the contrary, Mrs. Sheppard cited her greatest failure as being too trusting of other people. She said that at the end of the day, you cannot trust people in your business to help you or to run your business. You must be present to run your business.
This thought led to another important aspect of becoming a business owner: TIME. In the hair salon industry, your time spent tending to the needs of the business can cover the full range from very minimal to very time consuming. The reason for this range depends on the type of shop you decide to run. If you have a booth rent shop you do not have to spend as much time there. But if you have an operational shop you spend more time there because you have to collect your own money (being very cautious of who you trust with your finances). In Mrs. Sheppard’s case, she utilized both business models prior to establishing her school, Sheppard’s Academy of Cosmetology in 2002. Since opening the school, Mrs. Sheppard has realized the benefit of not having to be physically present as often although she does take care of the business aspects of the school. Generally speaking, Mrs. Sheppard stresses that being in business means that you are on, 24/7, around the clock.
While one might think that a successful business owner such as Mrs. Sheppard might dash off to the sunniest, sandiest vacation spot she could find at the first notion of free time on her hands. But, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The additional time on Mrs. Sheppard’s hands has been well reinvested into her community. From volunteering her notary services onsite at various nursing homes in the area to offering curbside, pick up and drop off, services to the seniors who patronize her school, so long as they are within the immediate community.
Now if that isn’t good service, I don’t know what is! My guess is that her constant giving is one of the reasons that Sheppard’s Academy of Cosmetology has met with such a great deal of success. Coupled with giving, Mrs. Sheppard’s main marketing strategy which utilizes a combination of word or mouth and “keeping her ear to the streets” for both new customers and students keeps her miles ahead of the competition.
As Mrs. Sheppard, of Sheppard’s Academy of Cosmetology, said, if you’re serious about your business, you can meet with the same success she has. She stressed that new business owners, both small and large, must remain vigilant of and respond to the ways in which clients are lost.
Four ways clients are lost are:
- Not knowing how to treat your customers
- Being late for appointments
- Making your client wait too long to receive services
- Cell phones & not providing your undivided attention to your client(s)
So if you are tired of receiving poor service and are looking for a change of pace and a new hairstyle, or two, head on over to Sheppard’s Academy of Cosmetology located at 3921 S Capitol Street SW # 1, Washington, DC 20032 or call to make an appointment to become a student at (202) 562-7000.