Business partners Andrew (second from left) and Tommy (third from left) both come from entrepreneurial families, having relatives that own restaurants, grocery stores, pool halls and everything in-between, so it’s no surprise that they both got the itch to start their own business.
With nearly 18 years of professional hairdressing experience and 20 years of client service experience between them, Tommy and Andrew began dreaming of opening a salon.
Referred to Mi Casa Women’s Business Center by a mutual friend who completed the Business Success class, Tommy and Andrew enrolled in the same comprehensive 13-week class to figure out how to turn their dreams of opening a salon into reality.
“We were mesmerized by the amount of information and resources presented to us in the class, and by the helpfulness and knowledge of Mi Casa’s staff,” said Andrew.
“We took advantage of every opportunity the class provided and the connections Mi Casa has to other professionals and community organizations, which proved key in moving our business aspirations forward,” said Andrew.
After graduating from the Business Success class with a strategic business plan, Mi Casa Women’s Business Center served as an ongoing resource for Andrew and Tommy. They received one-on-one business consulting in order to obtain the proper licenses and permits as well as secure the financing needed to open their salon.
“Andrew and Tommy hit a roadblock when applying for loans due to effects from the economic downturn and the fact that banks were not counting Tommy’s sole proprietor experience as if he had been a business owner,” said Mi Casa Women’s Business Director Elena. “So we approached our partner Solera Bank on their behalf.
“We vetted for their solid business plan, and they were able to secure a $65,000 SBA-backed loan,” said Elena.
Armed with start-up capital and a third business partner – Tommy’s longtime friend and fellow hairstylist, Kristianna – Tommy and Andrew found a space for their salon in downtown Denver.
In January of 2014, Tommy, Andrew, and Kristinana proudly opened Fleur Salon. The salon currently has five full-time employees and experienced a first quarter gross profit of $54,196.
In 2015, the salon plans to hire three new full-time stylists and expand operations by $165,000. Future plans for the salon also include creating a scholarship program to allow underserved GLBT youth to attend hair school.
“We got to where we are because of help from Mi Casa and others in the community, so we make a point to remember what we have been given and to give back by partnering with several local nonprofit organizations.”
Integrated into Mi Casa’s business programs is a culture of giving back.
“Our guest speakers who work on a pro bono basis with our participants serve as an inspiration to give back,” said Elena. “And we encourage our alumni to remember how they have been helped by others and that it pays to give back to the community.”
When asked what business advice he has for new entrepreneurs, Andrew says “Do your research, stick to a plan, and make sure to revisit that plan.”
Once they have been in operation a few years, Andrew and Tommy plan on taking Mi Casa’s Business Breakthrough class to learn how to take their business to the next level.
Elena said, “It is very rewarding to see Andrew and Tommy’s business taking off and to see how they are already making a difference in the community.”