Lisa Fehr has always been the nurturing kind. But when the 15-year health-care worker felt a need for change, this mother of five decided to follow her passion toward a new career.
Today, Fehr is doing a different kind of nurturing, as a cosmetology entrepreneur who has seen success as the owner of Hair to Dye For in Ormond Beach. “I’ve always loved doing hair,” she said. “I remember when I was a little girl asking Santa for one of those big Barbie heads with the hair you can curl and style. Well, that should have been a clue that this is what I was supposed to be doing a long time ago.”
It was the fall of 2000 when Fehr decided to take a leap of faith and switch careers. She did a lot of research up front, finding out what the typical charges are for salon services, working the numbers and determining that she would have to do two colorings a day to match what she was earning as a health-care worker.
“Then, I presented my case to my family,” she said. “My husband and kids really supported the idea and made it possible for me to make the change; although, I have to admit that at first they thought I was out of my mind.”
Today, 11 years after graduating from Daytona State College’s cosmetology program, Fehr averages six hair colorings a day, employs four other cosmetologists (three of them Daytona State graduates), and has more than 200 steady clients. Business is going so well, she plans to soon open a second salon in Ormond Beach. But perhaps even more satisfying is that she’s inspired her youngest daughter, McKenzie, to follow in her footsteps and pursue a cosmetology certificate at Daytona State.
“Cosmetology is the best-kept secret,” Fehr said. “Most people think there’s not a lot of opportunity to make a good living working with hair. But when I tell my lady friends how many colorings I do a day, they start doing the math.”
She recalled her time in Daytona State’s cosmetology program as an exciting experience. “I was eager to learn, even though I hadn’t been in a classroom for many years,” she said. “To me, this was different than being in college because on day 1 we were working with hair. My teachers also were wonderful. Here I was, 38 years old trying to raise five kids and go to school. They knew I was in it for real and they took me under their wing.”
Unlike many costlier cosmetology programs at for-profit schools, some where students study at their own pace, Daytona State’s Cosmetology program features a structure that Fehr said was a great fit for her.
“At Daytona State we had to be there Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.,” she said. “The program was very structured, but that’s what I needed because, trust me, there were plenty of reasons between PTA and kids’ soccer, cheerleading and everything else for me to say I was tired or too busy to go to class.”
After earning her cosmetology certificate in 2001, Fehr worked a year for another salon before venturing out on her own, and she’s never looked back.
“It has been very satisfying,” she said. “There are a lot of parallels between being a salon owner and my prior career in health care. You have to be committed to lifelong learning, staying on top of the trends and technologies. Both are nurturing professions. Both are helping others. People never leave my salon sad, and I find that very rewarding.”
The business, she said, has thrived during the economic downturn. “The recession has had no effect on us at all,” she said. “A lot of people who offer services like nail, facial and massage, they’ve taken a hit in the last few years, but let me tell you, women are still getting their roots done. They always will, no matter what.”