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HS 20th Anniversary! Interview with Owner, Dawn Panfil

Hair Solutions 20th Anniversary

Interview with Owner, Dawn Panfil

-What inspired you to get into cosmetology?

I was a sophomore at Eisenhower High School in New Berlin and one day I picked up a pair of scissors and started cutting my friend's hair, it came very naturally to me. I went to Barber School at MATC in MKE and started my career. I served a 2 year apprenticeship at Marinello's Hair Design in West Allis, andI grew my craft there for 14 years from 1979 thru 1993.

-When did you know/decide you wanted to become a salon owner?

I never had dreams of being a salon owner and one day a beauty sales rep told me of a small 3-chair 650 sq ft studio available for sale a few blocks away. I casually stopped by to meet the owner Chris and decided to take a chance as a business owner. I was a very good stylist but knew nothing about being a business owner. On Oct 11, 1993 Christopher Columbus Day or a "Day of New Discoveries" in my case, I opened my first salon. I grew a strong business in West Allis for 9 years that included 3 employees.

-How many employees did you start off with at the New Berlin location?

It was time to move to a bigger location and I had my sights set on New Berlin, my home town where a big sign in the dirt by a realty company caught my eye. A new mall was going to be built by the new Target Store. Not knowing anything about new construction or upscale leasing I contacted the agent in summer of 2001 to begin my next journey to rent 1500 sq ft in a yet-to-be built mall. Rent would be 3 times my current rent, that alone was nerve racking to me but nothing like the event on Sept 11, 2001 when the world changed as we knew it. Our clients were losing their jobs or their husbands were. I was set to sign my lease in Nov of 2001 and nearly backed away from the entire deal with all the uncertainty. had it not been for the advice of my financial advisor to just do it. My fear was very real and I was sick to my stomach walking into the real estate office to sign the lease, yet I marched forward.

We opened Hair & Body Solutions Salon & Spa on April 1st, 2002 with 8 employees and as the movie said "If you build it they will come!" ... and they did. The community embraced us and we grew very quickly. I learned how to manage 50 hours behind the chair, hiring new staff, meetings with reps, writing new rules, growing new talent kind of like spinning plates at the circus.

In 2004, I did the best thing for our staff and our guests attending a 4 day seminar with Summit Salon Business Systems to get a grip on our salon & spa company, I look back with pride and joy as that is the #1 game changer that elevated our guest service and salon growth. Within 10 months from The Summit, Hair Solutions became a Redken ELITE Salon, which provides some of the absolute BEST education in hair services that is available to serve our guests beauty needs with the latest and greatest trends in design, color, highlighting and balayage techniques. Redken education provides a map for stylists around the world to learn, earn and live a better life if they choose. Today Hair Solutions is the Redken Showcase Salon in the upper Midwest!

-When did you realize you needed to expand/remodel?

In two years we grew from 8 staff to 18. In 2006, I had an opportunity to take over the rental unit next door and double our size to 3,000 sq ft. Again we grew quickly and provided amazing career opportunity for employees with clear career paths and an opportunity to live a better life, and serve our guests! In 2008, a cancer diagnosis removed me from the salon for nearly 1 year, it truly changed how I served my staff as I had to relinquish all my guests I had served for so many years to my stylists. I would never go back behind the chair to do hair again, it was a painful reality to give up something I truly loved with so much passion. I came to understand that my greatest guests were my employees. If I treated them with all the kindness, respect, love, provided them with a higher education, beautiful environment and all the tools needed they would grow beyond other stylist, nail techs, spa tech wildest dreams...and they did and continue to do so to this day.

-How are you so successful?!

I nourish our sacred Salon Culture which is our "SUPER POWER"! Staff is expected to follow our Code of Honor and support all salon & Spa standards at all times. Our guests often share with me how much they LOVE coming in for their service experience because it makes them look and feel great every time! My servant heart is filled with gratitude for all the blessings that we share together as a Tribe each and every day. I understand that if my employees' needs are met, so are mine. I spend my time teaching, developing and growing our management and leadership team how to coach and mentor the others in our Tribe, at all levels to be successful. Hair Solutions is not just my salon company, it is all of our salon company, as I know I cannot do all of this without them, their daily willingness, their dedication to their careers and to our guests, all of this keeps our staff retention extremely high. It's a wonderful place for our employees to make life-long friends, to stay motivated in their careers year after year, to raise their families, to buy their first homes, the car of their dreams, and take great vacations with benefits that begin at only 32 hours a week.

-What are your hopes for the future?

In the future we will continue to develop and grow our people. We give responsibilities and delegate new responsibilities to younger staff with the desire to take their careers to the next level. I have enjoyed watching so many in my Tribe grow their lives personally and professionally. My goal over the next FOUR years is to have key employees partner with me and become shareholders in our salon company and to eventually become the owners of our fine business to continue my legacy - the legacy of Hair Solutions Salon & Spa- so they too can live the dream with servant hearts, to grow the next generation and continue the amazing success Hair Solutions has experienced in the past 20 years!

Thank you for 20 years of support! We couldn’t