District Boss Interview : Lisa + Melanie
Meet Lisa + Melanie, Founder of Smitten Boutique Salon and Hendricks Barbershop
From their start as apprentices at the same salon to their traveling bridal hair and make-up business, Lisa and Melanie knew they had a partnership and a skillset to succeed in creating their own business. With a vision of an upscale salon in mind and a passion for all things hair and beauty, they founded Smitten Boutique in Arlington, VA. This beautiful salon is known for its fantastic customer service and experience, exceptional skill, and friendly and talented staff. They are famous for being the best in balayage, dimension color, and advanced cutting. After thriving in their salon these two women decided to try their hand at another entrepreneurial endeavor and opened Hendricks Barbershop, a high end barbershop that offers everything from traditional styles to the trendiest cuts for well-groomed men. These two women cannot be stopped and we are so impressed by their drive here at RINGLET so we wanted to share a little bit more about them with you.
1// Tell us about your companies!
We own two businesses in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia. Our first business together was a hair salon– Smitten Boutique Salon. We can’t believe that it has already been open for seven years! This October will be our 8th anniversary. Smitten is an upscale salon with very talented and advanced stylists but also a place where you can feel relaxed and at home. Our second business, Hendricks, is an upscale barbershop. Hendricks has been open for two years and has quickly gained a reputation for high quality haircuts in an elevated environment.
2// What led you to where you are today?
MS: We first met each other and became friends fifteen years ago working as hair apprentices at a salon in Tysons Corner. We stayed friends throughout the years but we each went on to do our own things. I stayed working at the salon and Lisa left to work independently out of a studio in her home. Eventually, Lisa asked me if I wanted to open a salon with her and the rest is history. We have been very fortunate to have had wonderful mentors and a great business coach helping us along the way.
LD: Melanie, you forgot about our traveling bridal hair and makeup business! Not sure we ever want to go back to those day– ha! However, it did signal to me that we had a great partnership. I was fortunate enough to have met Melanie in the beginning of both of our careers. It was obvious from the start that we were both passionate about all things hair and beauty.
I’ve always had a very strong vision of owning my own business one day. I knew that it would involve the beauty industry in some way– I’ve always been passionate about about makeup, hair, and beauty in general. What I love about this industry isn’t just the glam aspect of it– what I actually love is building women’s self-confidence through our work.
3// What brings you the most joy when developing your companies?
MS: I find it most exciting to figure out ways to grow while implementing new ideas and programs– but while making sure to stay true to our brands. It’s important to be innovative and creative but not so much that you stray from your roots. On a day-to-day level, I am the operations boss. I thrive on making step-by-step plans, educating, and training. This is where I feel the most comfortable and the most helpful. Lisa is completely the opposite. We are the perfect complements to each other. My strengths are her weaknesses and vice versa– and we respect and value these differences.
LD: Melanie summed it up perfectly! I do love the big picture and working towards a final vision or goal. I enjoy dreaming about ways to make the business bigger and better. This is why we work so well together. I also love mentoring and developing the younger generation of stylists entering our industry. In general, I love to lead and mentor people. It brings me joy to watch other people live up to their greatest potential.
4// What’s the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur? The best part?
LD: You may not believe me but I’m struggling to find the con of being an entrepreneur. I LOVE it! I am so thankful that I get to do something that I love and make women feel happy and confident– all while working with an AMAZING team! Of course, there are times when balance is a struggle. But isn’t it for every working mommy out there?! I’m not sure if there is ever truly a perfect balance between work and family– one or the other might be getting a little more “love” at different times. I try to be mindful of this by being fully present when I’m at home or at work.
MS: The most difficult part is that you are the last line. At the end of the day you are responsible for all of the clients, employees, and the business. It’s a lot of pressure and stress to take on which is why this role isn’t for everyone. The best part is that you have the freedom to create whatever you want and set your own schedule. I love that I can work a full day but still make dinner for my family and enjoy time with my son, Beckett, and husband, Gene.
5// How do you stay motivated and continue to grow, personally and professionally?
LD: Melanie and I do a great job keeping each other accountable. We always see the best in each other (even when we don’t see it in ourselves) and we make sure that we are working towards our greatest potential. We also hold our staff accountable. I believe that accountability is the key to success.
My motivation and inspiration comes from anything and everything– from workouts, people, books, podcasts (I LOVE podcasts! Especially ones about business development and leadership) to restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, vacation, social media, or my kids. I am always thinking of new places to find ideas and inspiration for the future of our brand.
MS: We are lucky enough to have a strong management team who all bring something different to the table. We are always discussing new ideas and new opportunities for growth. I get a lot of inspiration from friends, podcasts, our industry, and other businesses. I have a fashion background so I find a lot of my inspiration from that world.
6// What’s your nighttime routine?
LD: After a busy day at work I get my two daughters ready for bed with my husband’s help. Once they’re asleep is when I get to have my “me” time. Usually my best ideas come to me at night. It’s the only time of day when I’m not managing my team or running after my three year and 10 month old daughters. I’ll take a long, hot shower or bath and indulge in a mindless reality show or book to wind down. I often find inspiration from something I’m watching or reading that can be applicable to our businesses– so I guess I never really stop working!
MS: After work I usually cook dinner for my husband and son. I really enjoy cooking and usually find it to be a relaxing way to relieve stress. Once my son gets off to bed (which has been a real struggle getting him used to staying his new big boy bed– can any other moms relate?), I try to disconnect from the day with my favorite TV show. I am currently pregnant, so some nights I am curled up in bed very early reading something on my Kindle.
7// What’s one piece of advice you would give to other entrepreneurs?
MS: Know that you’re going to have to put in the work. The hours and time commitment are long and hard, especially in the beginning. Also, surround yourself with smart and loyal people.
LD: The team and support system you have around you is so important. Surround yourself with people who understand you and can support the vision of your brand. You need people who will boost you up and be happy for your success. Build a team of people who want the best for your brand.
8// What inspired you to focus on empowering women?
MS: We feel lucky to have had inspiring and supportive women in our lives. We’ve reached a point where we can spare time and want to give back. It's important to create good energy around you and support the younger generation of business leaders and owners– especially women, because there just aren’t enough of us out there. We want to show other women that regardless of your upbringing, education, or path in life you can create whatever type of career and environment you want.
LD: As a mommy of two young girls, the future of the next generation of women is always on my mind at home and at work. Yes, while a client is in my chair I am making them feel beautiful from a hair/ beauty perspective. However, it’s deeper than that. We build a relationship with our clients and employees that grows and lasts for years by encouraging them to feel good from the inside out. The only way to succeed in life is to believe in yourself and your self worth. We stand by “beauty starts on the inside!”