Gwen Anderson has been in the hair care industry for over 30 years. The South Carolina native says styling hair came naturally. As young as nine-years-old, Anderson’s grandmother would allow her to style her hair using hair rollers. As she got older she progressed into applying chemical relaxers and cutting hair. Anderson eventually got her license but there was one thing that held her back. “Fear paralyzed me. I compared myself to other stylists,” she said.
Anderson held down other jobs but couldn’t seem to find longevity before she realized styling hair was her calling.
A mentor encouraged her to specialize in installing locs. This is where she thrived.
In the business of beauty. Now based in Killen, Texas, Turner felt the urge to open up her own salon. She set out to look at properties to buy and found one that had lots of potential. But Anderson was discouraged to find out that the building wasn’t for sale. Not to be deterred, she decided to rent it instead. At this point everything was lining up for Anderson. The shampoo bowls and dryers she had in storage fit perfectly into her new space that she named A & W Loc Bar. Though everything seemed to be going well, fear would return to paralyze her. Anderson was concerned she wouldn’t have the money to take care of expenses. But each week she got new clients, putting her worries to rest. “Be careful what you pray for. What you ask for… be prepared for it,” Anderson advised. “Sometimes I’m so booked I have to refer clients out,” she added.
As a stylist Anderson uses a variety of products to style her client’s hair. Unsatisfied with products to keep her mother and daughter’s hair moisturized, Anderson decided to come up with her own concoction she calls Moisture Madness. Anderson started using her product on her clients. Soon Turner began to see positive results. At first, she gave the product away for free. But when a client urged her to sell it, Anderson decided to give it a try. She started by selling it during a test run to see how it would perform. Good reviews poured in and she moved forward with selling it. “I ship it out. I can’t keep enough of it,” she said.
Overcoming adversity in business. Though Anderson has her own salon, not owning the building is problematic. “If something is broken, you have to wait until they fix it and doing it yourself can be expensive,” said Anderson. She added, “If other people can control your ownership, it affects your business.”
Keys to success. Anderson credits a few things for her ability to maintain longevity in the beauty industry. Having excellent customer service is one of them. “If you have good service, you can decide who you want to service,” advised Anderson. She says in addition to providing a good experience for customers, having a mentor, asking for help and being willing to listen are other things she’s learned along the way.
Future goals. Someday Anderson wants to open a cosmetology school. She wants to become an instructor and hire a of team of industry professionals to work alongside her. “I love to teach and educate. I have a passion for this,” she said. To get there, Turner is hoping for the financial backing from investors and a board of trustees to help achieve her dream. She also needs a someone to help create a business plan.
Anderson has come a long way from the fearful stylist she was when she first started out. Her years of experience comes with a few words of advice for other stylists just starting out. “Try not to jump out into something. Make sure you can afford it,” she said. She also encourages stylists to take care of the business side of hair care… things like having a business account and maintaining good credit. Her last piece of advice could also apply to other entrepreneurs or anyone with a goal. “Stay humble. Never give up no matter what”.