Entrepreneurs are a special breed. We breathe passion, ignite creativity and open doors that don’t even exist. We aren’t fearless, but we don’t let fear stand in our way. Welcome to the start of our new series, Small Business Features. I hope you leave feeling inspired…
note from the editor:
I met Stacy last year when she responded to a model call I had for a photoshoot. I was looking for a gorgeous tattooed woman who could pull off retro styling. She sent me an email that showed off her bubbly personality, a picture of herself, told me she had a tattoo sleeve, and I was like “Yes! This is my girl!” Our shoot was a blast, and we soon developed a working relationship, sending referrals each other’s way. When you imagine the type of friend that everyone would be lucky to have in their lives, it’s Stacy. With a smile and giggle so contagious, you can’t help but feel pure joy whenever you’re around her.
~Cori Strong, Owner of Little Bells Photography
Before you opened Girl Friday, what did you do for a living?
Before girl Friday I was a teacher. I worked at Fairview Elementary School as a Reading Specialist. I taught for a little over 6 years. Once we had our son (Max) I decided I wanted to have a more flexible schedule. So, I did daycare in my home for a few years and in the meantime taught myself how to make jewelry as a hobby. A few years later girl Friday was born…
Can you give us a little background on Girl Friday? What initially sparked the idea for opening a boutique salon? Can you share your inspiration for how you decided on the name?
Girl Friday has been open for almost 7 years! Seems impossible!! About 13 years ago, my friend Dana Rainwater (who previously owned a darling and successful business called bug-a-boo baby) asked to view my jewelry that I had been creating as a hobby. I was having small trunk shows in friends’ homes and local businesses. Dana was kind enough to let me display my pieces in her studio. She was a huge part of me being able to embrace my creative side! Dana and I created a few custom bags together, and we spent many nights on the phone at 2 am just talking about possibilities!! A few years later, I opened an itty bitty studio of my own and started selling my handcrafted jewelry and other boutique items as my career. After a couple years of building clients and networking my small studio/boutique, my sister Katie came up with the idea of adding the salon aspect to the business. We realized that many of my clients were also hers at the salon she was working at. We pretty much immediately started scouting out spaces to rent. We looked at a few very “cracker box,” strip mall spaces and knew it HAD to be different! I stumbled upon this giant Victorian House for sale and happened to know the owner. We negotiated a lease agreement and literally opened up shop within a month. We had very little time to plan or worry about if we would be successful. I think we both knew we’d just have to do whatever it took to get us up and running. And now 7 years later here we are!!
The name girl Friday was a given. Katie’s husband had a buddy in a band called girl Friday. We had ALWAYS thought it would be a great name for our someday business venture. I remember googling “girl friday” and of course the old movie called “His Girl Friday” starring Cary Grant popped up. This 1940’s film went very well with this very old home we had rented and the environment we were trying to create. Then the Urban Dictionary meaning sealed the deal…GIRL FRIDAY: a female who will help you get things taken care of; a female you can rely on when in need of extra assistance; a female who acts as a “jack of all trades”. Yep….this was it!!! No questions asked…We’re calling it girl Friday!!!
What would you say your main goal or purpose of your business? What is your core passion when it comes to your industry and serving clients?
The main goal of my business is to empower people by making them feel good about themselves. The things people say after a flawless airbrush tan, a great hair experience, or a new face of make up is what it’s all about! My core passion about this industry is the people! Everyone from the clients we get to meet, to the incredible network of others in the industry that always seem willing to collaborate and help with any given project. Bloomington/Normal has some extreme talent in the salon field, and I have the pleasure of working with a few of the finest each day! It’s incredible!
What roles do you play in your business and what types of services do you offer?
The roles I play…. Interesting question. Each person that works at girl Friday owns their own little piece of girl Friday. I’m no one’s boss, and everyone runs their business under one roof. My daily duties are to keep a peaceful, clean, and workable environment for everyone. I design a line of jewelry, I do all the airbrush tans, I sell LimeLight by Alcone make up and offer one on one lessons with those products. I like to keep an ear to the ground for amazing products to offer (like the Eufora hair care we now carry.). Once I fall in love with something I like to tell EVERYONE about it! Much like I have with LimeLight and Eufora! On any given day you could catch me doing janitorial work, maintenance, landscaping, carrying around babies or doggy daycare at the salon. Ha! Sh#*t’s gotta get done!
What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?
My favorite thing about being an entrepreneur is the fact that I always get to learn something new! I get bored easily, so I’m always looking for something to change up. Whether it’s re-arranging furniture or experimenting with a new line of products, the challenge of keeping girl Friday fresh and new excites me the most!
Everyone raves about your spray tans and your easy going personality. Why do you think you were able to build up such a devoted clientele? For people who may be nervous about stripping down in front of a stranger for a spray tan, what can you share with them about the experience to help calm their nerves?
I have to credit my sister Katie for starting the airbrush tans off with a bang! She was the go to girl for the best tan in town for the first few years! She built the reputation for our airbrushes and got the clientele going. Once she decided to stay home with her babies, I took over the airbrush tans. I had very fancy shoes to fill! I modeled everything I do during an airbrush session after Katie’s method. Staying professional, up-beat, easy going, and being understanding about the uneasiness that comes along with stripping down in front of someone. I also think having a sense of humor helps! It’s really one of those things that once the first time is over, it’s not that big of a deal ever again!
We’re hearing a lot about the new makeup and skincare brand you’re carrying. Can you give us some background on the company? Why did you decide to start carrying this brand over others? What response have you had from your clients who have purchased these products? Any fan favorites we should try out?
Oh my gosh…LimeLight by Alcone!!!!
Yes, this is my current OBSESSION! One of my airbrush clients literally stood in front of me naked and pitched this product line to me! All natural skin care (which perked my ears up) and pro make up all rolled into a commissions plan that made me want to hear more! Once I tried a few samples and fell in LOVE with the mascara, it was a no brainer! LimeLight has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The Alcone brand has been around for 65 years… it’s very well established and reputable. The make up is used by pro make up artists everywhere! And the skin care is made with ingredients that I’m 100% comfortable putting on my skin (which is the our biggest organ mind you!). Not only are the products the BEST I’ve ever experienced, but the people I get to work with are like my soul sisters. Compassionate, powerful, mindful, amazing leaders that care about one another wholeheartedly. I could go on and on about this venture! My clients have fallen in love with LimeLight by Alcone as much as I did. I’ve had a few friends join my team to sell alongside me as well. It just so exciting! A few bestsellers to consider are Calm Balm moisturizer, our Perfect Mascara, and our game changing Botanical Foundation!
Your ”Mod Mom” custom jewelry is our fave! What types of jewelry do you customize and how do you work with clients to determine the designs?
State Street Design is my jewelry line. It is all handcrafted by me. My custom designs are client centered, and I always keep an open mind about different styles for different clients. My “Mod Mom” pieces continue to be my biggest seller. I believe the Mod Mom concept came about in a late night conversation with my friend Dana. It was her vision, and I decided to give it a try. Before I knew it I was stamping out names of children to add to many different types of jewelry. These are great keepsake pieces and make the perfect gift! I like to have one on one design appointments when creating a piece like this. It gives me a chance to get to know my clients and their individual style. And I think it makes them feel like they’re truly getting a one of a kind piece made just for them (which is exactly what they’re getting).
I am all about entrepreneurs who open businesses to serve a higher purpose, to inspire and truly help others. What is your take on this and how this plays into your business? Do you have any favorite local entrepreneurs whose vision and purpose you admire?
I have many many hopes and dreams of being an entrepreneur who inspires, leads, and helps others. I’m not gonna lie though… sometimes it’s a challenge just keeping the electricity turned on! Ha! But honestly…one of the first events we took on as a team at girl Friday was a fashion show to help the Neville house here in Bloomington. If you aren’t familiar with it, the Neville house is a safe haven for women that have been abused or fallen on difficult times. It was such a pleasure to do this event. I loved every second of it. We do tons of donations through gift certificates and raffle items for many local charities. We’ve collected coats for kids and gathered up food for animals. We’ve even done free haircuts in exchange for canned goods to donate to a local shelter. I’m hoping that someday I will have the financial freedom to help in a bigger way, but for now we all do what we can in our own small ways.
I’m learning each day that very small things can inspire and help others. A smile, a handshake, a simple “you’re doing a great job!” I want to be sure I’m always building people up. Giving them courage to take chances and knowing that things will work out. This is what so many people have done for me, and now I have an opportunity to do it for someone else. It’s simply the best feeling one can have!
Some of my local faves… Jenny and Georgia at Move Pilates and Yoga, Ricardo Sturdivant at 33 Tattoos and Art, Maria Kemp at Beyond Decadence, John Kemp at Kemp’s Upper Tap, Torrey Zwanzig at Soul Haven & Co, and of course Cori Strong at Little Bells Photography!
Thank you so much for taking the time to let our readers get to know you! Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’d like to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to everyone that has never given up on me. This journey has had major ups and few downs. I’ve had a handful of people that have asked me “why?”
Why do you stay open when you aren’t making tons of cash? Why do you spend so much time? Why do you care so much? Why do you let it stress you out?
The answer is simple. This business is like my last child. It is something that started so tiny and has grown with me to a point that it’s part of me. I love it! I will nourish it until it no longer needs me. And I’m hoping that day never comes.
I appreciate each of you that have helped along the way! Girl Friday would not be here without each and every one of you!!
Follow girl Friday on facebook
Visit the girl Friday website