Aqua Salon Proves a Cut Above The Rest

Michael Essany Headshot by Michael Essany on November 23, 2011
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Pictured: Aqua Salon.  Photo courtesy of Noel Buican.

Noel Buican of Aqua Salon has even more reason to give thanks this holiday weekend.

Her trendy hair and beauty salon in the Edgebrook community of Chicago, Illinois is the latest Love A Local Business winner. That means Intuit will award Aqua a $25,000 hiring grant.

Buican’s youthful ambitions and inspiring accomplishments have filled her entrepreneurial journey rife valuable lessons for other small business owners.

A 12-year industry veteran, Buican’s first job out of high school was shampooing hair at a neighborhood salon. Soon she would be off to cosmetology school where her love of styling continued to blossom. After a prolonged out-of-state apprenticeship, Buican returned home to Chicago to be with her family. But when she couldn’t find a new salon that she enjoyed as much as her earlier places of employment, Buican’s dream to own her own salon took hold.

From Risk to Reward

“I almost left the industry altogether,” Buican recalls. “I started going back to college and taking business classes. And then a salon in the neighborhood where I just bought a home came up for sale. I looked into it, and it was one of the biggest fork in the road moments for me. The night that I came in to sign the lease, I had to run home and drop my next semester of classes that I had lined up. It was a crazy decision.”

Ever the gutsy move, Buican’s enterprise also brought with it no shortage of obstacles. She inherited an older facility in need of repairs, not to mention a rapidly aging staff of stylists which weren’t attracting young clientele seeking the newest trends in style and beauty.

“I took all of the equity out of our house and everything we needed to do to gut the place and look great for the demographic we wanted to attract,” she says.

But for Buican and her team, the risk paid off. “We celebrated our fifth anniversary on November 20th,” Aqua’s proud owner boasts.

Continued Growth

Buican says she’s been putting as much profit as possible — including some of her own take-home pay — back into the business to continue growing her young company’s momentum.

“I’m always hiring,” Buican says. “I am constantly pulling from the cosmetology schools. I have a hard time not giving people jobs, which I guess has been one of my financial downfalls in the past. I almost over-hire and then try to create work for everybody.”

In this regard, the Intuit grant comes at a great time as Aqua looks to keep its talented staff growing.

“The grant will allow me to continue hiring at the pace I’m hiring and not have to turn people away based on the fact that I can’t cover the payroll,” she admits.

But if Aqua continues to expand in popularity and profitability as it has throughout 2011, Buican should have no problem keeping her robust staff busy. Expanding her business by opening more stores now ranks high on the drawing board.

“I have not put my house on the line, put my life on the line, to do just this. I’m looking at how soon I can do it. The sooner the better. And I’m just trying to focus on the people I have working with me now and looking for the people who I think can help me expand… This is just my beginning.”

All told, Aqua’s success speaks volumes to start-ups everywhere presently wrestling with challenges of launching a new business.

“Don’t be afraid to go after what you want,” Buican reveals. “Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it or that it won’t work. If you’re willing to put your entire being — your heart and soul — into something, you can have anything you want.”

Feel The Love

Are you a small business owner looking to hire but lacking the funds to do so? Nominate your business for a Love a Local Business grant today!

Michael Essany Headshot

Michael Essany is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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