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Business courses help stylist keep salon in the black

Martin Desmarais
Business courses help stylist keep salon in the black
(L-R front) Erinn Danielle, Danesha Stevenson; (L-R back) Ranea Riley-Walker, Jerikah Price, Amanda Infantino. (Photo: Martin Desmarais)

Author: Martin DesmaraisErinn Danielle of Simply Erinn’s Unisex Salon in Cambridge.

Erinn Danielle loves being a hair stylist. There is nothing the founder of Simply Erinn’s Unisex Salon in Cambridge would rather do with her day than help her customers feel great about their hair. But running a business is another thing and it wasn’t until she finally focused on the business end of things — a decade in to owning her salon — that the future really brightened.

“You have to look at business as a business. You have to make a decision based on numbers and not just emotions,” said Danielle, who freely admits that for many years she ran Simply Erinn’s, which she first bought in 2002, mostly on her love of hair styling and not the bottom-line focus needed to be truly successful.

While she was able to keep the salon open, it still meant plenty of stress and numerous week-to-week battles to stay afloat.

“I will tell you that not knowing how to run a business and running it on intuition was very difficult,” Danielle said.

A few years ago, however, she changed Simply Erinn’s course by taking some business classes that taught small business entrepreneurs better business acumen and strategy. She also connected with Interise, an organization that supports small business owners in urban communities with education, networking connections and coaching through advisors.

She learned how to examine her businesses strengths, weaknesses and competition, as well as how to get better organized with technology, such as software to keep records and balance the books.

“I learned about what I really needed in this business and in this industry to survive. To make projections and make goals and stick to them,” Danielle said.

In short, she fashioned a whole new style for running her business — and the results have been beautiful for an entrepreneur who knows a thing or two about what looks good.

Simply Erinn’s has six employees, including Danielle. This includes three hair stylists, two assistants and one salon coordinator to handle customers and bookings.

The salon is stylish and clean and the staff is all sharply dressed in black, with impressively styled hair that lets all who enter know they practice what they preach.

Danielle now knows that the hair stylists need to serve five to eight clients a day — depending on the service — over the course of a week to hit the numbers her business needs, which Simply Erinn’s now does consistently.

The salon has a long list of things it does, but main services include cut and styling; hair and scalp rebuilding; special effects such coloring; and hair designs including cornrows, twists and braids.

Simply Erinn’s main clientele are women of color, which Danielle says gives her a strong feeling that her business serves the community, but also connects her to the kind of customers she emphasizes have the same passion about hair that she does.

She wouldn’t have it any other way.

So how exactly does Simply Erinn’s stay a cut above the competition? Danielle says it is professionalism above all else, but it also doesn’t hurt to greet customers with a smile the minute they walk in the door.

“First impressions are very important,” Danielle said. “When you first walk in and no one says anything to you, it is the worst thing. This will not happen at Simply Erinn’s.”

From booking to pricing to the hair products used, everything Simply Erinn’s now does is planned and detailed with a strategy Danielle gained through her recent efforts to strengthen her business knowledge. The hair is the easiest part, as she has been styling since her teens.

She got her start in hair styling when she was just 19 years old and now has been working in the industry for more than 20 years. She has been a licensed master barber since 1990 and a cosmetologist since 1999. She has certification in cutting and coloring, as well as Trichology, which is the study of hair and scalp and its diseases.

Danielle first worked at the salon that would become Simply Erinn’s in 1997 when it was known as the Style Factory. Later, with a different owner and a new name — Troy Anthony’s — she ran the salon for a year.

In June 2002, she got the opportunity to buy the salon and make it her own, which she was able to do with a small business loan from Citizens Bank.

Danielle says she always hoped to open her own salon business and was thrilled to get a chance to do so, but has never been more excited about the business than she is now — particularly because she sees possible expansion on the horizon.

If she can find the right location, she feels confident that the system now in place at Simply Erinn’s will lead to success at another salon.

“I do plan to keep doing this,” she said. “I want another salon, maybe even more.”