Vicky LeMahieu and Kathryn Hillstrom had their eyes on 202 Pine Street in Sheboygan Falls for over 20 years, and the historic Richardson building is now home to their K Lorraine Salon. The two friends, who formerly ran Salon 511, were thrilled at the opportunity to make this the site of their new business dream.
The salon includes a boutique space as well as space for private events, yoga classes and spa and salon services. The office space was even fitted with laundry machines to increase functionality. The women take pride in all the local talent that helped establish the business. WI State Bank & Trust in Sheboygan Falls served as their local accountant. Thanks to Frontier Craftsmen and A. Chappa Construction, the atmosphere is peaceful and welcoming and beautiful details such as the custom front desk and vanity add to the ambiance. Ray York, a consultant with Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation and the WI Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-Green Bay, helped with market research, financial planning, hiring practices and business plan development.
“Vicky and Kathryn had concerns about starting new, but they had a clear vision of what they wanted to accomplish along with extensive experience in the salon industry,” said Ray.
“Ray was amazing!” Vicky commented. “He has a very calm spirit. He sat down with us and really dove into our financials. We found it so helpful that he gave us specific tasks to complete to stay on track.” In fact, Vicki and Kathryn took on many tasks of the start-up themselves but commented, “We still could not have done it without the emotional and physical support of our husbands as well.”
GROWING A TEAM
Family is clearly important at K Lorraine, which is named for the mothers of the two salon owners. Kathryn’s daughter, Claire, creates the social media for the business and started a girls’ empowerment camp to be offered quarterly at the salon. Vicky’s youngest son, Adam, helped with painting and remodel details and worked at the front desk until he left for college. And the staff at the salon continues to grow!
In the 10 short months since they opened, the salon that started with 7 employees will soon have 14. The business hopes to hire a fourth stylist by the end of 2019. Yoga instructors, massage therapists, aestheticians, nail technicians and front desk staff also help the salon reach their service goals. Vicky and Kathryn use data-backed research and trends in the industry to determine new goals, and when goals are met everyone on the team gets a piece of the bonus.
The team has already achieved some of their goals including adding reiki to their services, cbd oils to their product line and community events to their calendar. They have seen a steady growth in sales every month since opening in December 2018. The salon offers weekly wellness classes and essential oil events; uses the atrium space to host bridal showers, baby showers and other private events; and welcomes vendors to their outdoor courtyard space for farmers’ markets.
Community support is clear for this local business. “But it wasn’t always easy. The retail shelves weren’t finished on time, the salon equipment was delayed and the shampoo stations weren’t installed, but we just improvised with what we had,” Kathy said. “Subcontractors told us it would never be ready by our December first open, but when push came to shove we called in people we knew to hang dry wall and help paint.”
Accomplishments with UW-Green Bay SBDC
- Market research
- Business Plan
- Financial Planning
- Hiring Practices
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Ray York, of the SBDC, summed their story up eloquently, saying, “Their efforts paid off with a beautiful space in a great historic downtown Sheboygan Falls location.”
According to Kathryn, Ray’s personalized service made a big difference in getting their business off the ground. “He provided financial projections for a three-year outlook.” And Sheboygan Falls can’t wait to see what the next three years brings for K Lorraine Salon.