Leo Znascko couldn't find what wanted so she started her own salon, and by conserving resources, and a willingness to adjust, she beat the odds.
Salon Salon owner Leo Znascko was 19 when she began styling hair. The calling may be partly genetic; her grandfather was a barber. Her father was a barber, certified as a unisex hair stylist in the '70s, and one of her sons is also a sylist.
When she moved to Palm Coast in 2006, she couldn't find a salon with the atmosphere she was used to working in, so she decided to open her own. After starting in one room by herself, she saved enough money to start the salon she owns today.
Salon Salon is starting its fifth year in business, an important milestone, as Leo explained when we sat down with her.
I knew it was going to work when …
“I outlived my industry's first-four failure rate. Most salons go out of business before their fourth year. Once somebody tells you something like that, you're afraid of that number. Some of the reasons are your build-out was too high, your business plan wasn't put together appropriately, and your pockets weren't deep enough to sustain longevity while you're paying off start-up costs.”
I celebrated my first success by …
“Remodeling the shop. I was holding my breath for those 4 years. I said, 'We're staying here, we can spend more money.'”
I wanted to own a business because …
“I wanted to set my own success standards and not live to corporate expectations. When I came to town and looked around, there was a lot of beauty parlors, but not salons. We do very on-trend, progressive work. I grew up in a beauty parlor and I love them, but you service a different clientele. You have standing appointments. There's a demographic for that, but it is a dying art.”
A funny thing happened …
“The whole first year I found myself understanding all of my old employers better. I remember going, 'I used to criticize her for that' and, 'Oh no, I'm turning into Mr. So and So.'”
What most people don't know about the business is …
“Less than 5% of students who go to hair school last past their first year. Of that 5%, 72% leave within three years. If I make you look horrible, it really is on me. The anxiety is huge. A lot of kids run out the back door crying in that first year and they don't come back.
What my employees mean to me...
“My employees are my grounding force. They are like family to me. I personally feel responsible for the success of each and every one of them. Their bills, their kids and their homes, depend on me to keep them busy and prosperous. In our industry there is a big emphasis on teaching, mentoring and elevating the next generation of professionals.”
What my customers mean to me …
“My clients are my friends, my community, my bosses, and my teachers. Their loyalty is truly the litmus test of my success. A lot of people will give you a try once; it's their loyalty that really makes the difference.”
The best change I made was …
“Going from chair rental to commission. Legally with chair rental, your stylists are self-employed, so you can't make them schedule or wear a uniform. Quality control is limited. It's like roommates in a house, there's always one guy who will eat your lunch.”
I thought I might quit when …
“When I had to dismiss three employees at once, as I changed to commission. I had to let them go because that would cut their income, and they would leave anyway, but I thought about giving up the business.”
Everything changed when …
"I changed to commission. I was alone in the salon and realized I could float the whole thing myself financially and I no longer felt beholden to my renters, co-workers, employees/sublets. For about six months, I couldn't get a person. I went to job fairs, the schools, LinkedIn and no one would apply for a job. I think it was part of the divine plan to show me 'you can do this, and you will do this alone long enough so you'll know you can lose income and still sustain the business.'”
Pull Quote: “My clients are my friends, my community, my bosses, and my teachers. Their loyalty is truly the litmus test of my success.”
- 3 Florida Park Drive N, Suite D, Palm Coast
- Owner: Leo Znascko
- What they do: Salon Salon focuses on hair. Most people know them as a color salon. They also do hair and make-up for weddings and work with high school students doing hair and makeup for school photos.
- Achievements: Paid up all start-up costs and build-up after one year.
- Future Plans: Invest in staff by growing their clientele to the point that each stylist is fully booked, and reaches their goals. Be successful enough so that her husband can retire.
By the Numbers
Starting 5th Year in Business
Most salons go out of business in their first 4 years
2 Employees as of January 2015
4 Employees as of January 2016
5 Members of the family are barbers or hair stylists, including grandfather, father, and one son.
5 Years is a successful salon career
15 Years is an amazing salon career