A Fun-Filled Salon Experience For Children and Mom’s
When it comes to taking care of themselves, many moms are lucky if they shower every couple of days or get a haircut once a year. It’s not because they don’t care about their appearance; it’s often due to the fact that spending a few hours at a salon also involves hiring a babysitter and carving out time in the family’s busy schedule. When it comes to cutting their children’s hair, life isn’t much easier for most parents. It’s hard to find a salon that serves children in an atmosphere that’s more fun than going to the park. The Hairy Bear has solved that problem by combining a family-friendly hair salon with the ability to give back to the community.
You won’t run into any wild animals at The Hairy Bear at 1197 Williston Road in South Burlington other than Harriet, the stuffed bear who sits out front holding a balloon and welcoming the community. Even the kids are tamed when they see how fun it is to get a haircut at The Hairy Bear. It’s not just a salon for kids, however. The Hairy Bear caters to everyone in the family. Sandra Peck, The Hairy Bear’s owner, said, “There’s no other place like this in the state of Vermont.”
The business certainly makes the process of getting a child’s haircut easy and enjoyable. Children can sit on kid-sized toy horses or in lifelike cars while they get their hair cut. Although this doesn’t necessarily prevent them from getting wiggly, it does keep them contained and helps avert tantrums. “No one caters to toddlers like The Hairy Bear does,” said Sandra.
No one caters to mothers in such a convenient way either. One thing that mothers tend to put off after having kids is self-care. It’s hard for moms to find time to get their hair cut and colored, especially when they have to coordinate around their child. Most salons don’t have an area where kids can be entertained. At many salons, parents are resigned to handing over their cell phones in hopes that they’ll keep their kids occupied for an hour or two. Parents who have attempted to visit an adults-only salon can probably commiserate over the dirty looks that they’ve received because they’ve brought their rowdy children into the serene spa-like environment.
I went in and talked to [Opportunities], and they told me what I needed to do and made it happen.
Things are different at The Hairy Bear. There’s a video system that lets kids watch their favorite movies. A chalkboard wall encourages kids to get creative. The LEGO table beckons kids to build and innovate. That means that children have a place to hang out while their parents are getting beautified in the adult section.
Sandra explained the process. “Mothers come in and get color and highlights, and their children play for two hours. It’s convenient and the adult side is quick and efficient. If you just want to stop in and get a quick cut, I usually can accommodate that. If you call me within a day or two, you usually can get in and for an appointment.”
Most busy parents will tell you that anything that’s quick and convenient is a miracle when you have kids. The kids who get to play while their mothers get their hair done would probably say the opposite, though. Many parents have trouble getting their kids to leave even after a few hours of play.
Running a kid-friendly hair salon isn’t all fun and games, however. The job comes with its own challenges. Cutting children’s hair requires patience and proficiency. “If you’ve got the patience and the training to be able to do that, you can do anybody’s hair,” said Sandra.
In fact, The Hairy Bear is responsible for boosting many a stylist’s career. Sandra understands the challenges of breaking into the real world after graduating from cosmetology school. That’s why she provides opportunities for recent graduates to work in the business. It helps them get established and ready to move on to other ventures.
That’s how Sandra got her start. After graduating from the Vermont College of Cosmetology, Sandra worked in the field for 13 years before finding The Hairy Bear. She ended up working as a stylist at the salon for ten years before transitioning to ownership.
When she took over the salon, Sandra had her work cut out for her. The location wasn’t very visible from the street, and many people didn’t know it was there. Within two years, business was going downhill. Sandra needed to make a move, and it needed to happen fast. In order to fund the transition, Sandra needed a loan. For her, applying for small business loan at Opportunities Credit Union was a no-brainer.
Opportunities had helped Sandra take out a home loan when she was a single mom with three children and no credit. At the time, she had visited a few other banks but kept getting the runaround. She was sent from one to another and felt like she had to jump through hoops.
Opportunities gave her the financial boost she needed to buy a house for her family. “Opportunities came in and helped me out,” Sandra said. “I just happened to have what they needed to qualify, so it worked.”
When it came time to look for small business lending products, Sandra didn’t even have to shop around. “I just called Opportunities and said, ‘Hey, I have my loan for my home with you guys. How would this work?’ I went in and talked to them, and they told me what I needed to do and made it happen.”
It was a simple process, and Sandra was surprised at how quickly it went. She met with Greg Huysman, the Senior Business Development Manager, who helped her take out the small business loan that she needed to redesign The Hairy Bear. Sandra recounts her gratitude for the Credit Union: “If it wasn’t for me being able to get a loan to come over here to redesign it and reopen it, The Hairy Bear probably would not have been in business anymore.”
The new location has better visibility, gets more traffic, and requires fewer overhead expenses. Moving to that space made it possible for The Hairy Bear to not only survive but to thrive.
With her business running efficiently, Sandra is ready to make a different kind of move. She wants to take advantage of the other products at Opportunities to buy a new home. Working with Opportunities was a great experience, and now Sandra is ready to go to the next level with her personal finances.
When asked if she would recommend Opportunities to anyone else, Sandra smiled and said, “Yeah, absolutely.”
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