She is your daughter. She is your niece. She is your friend. Close your eyes and think American. Think baseball, apple pie and Chevy trucks or maybe Cosmopolitan, New Kids on the Block and the girl next door. Now open your eyes. Tammy Sand is that girl next door, the 21st century girl next door that is. Let’s draw the drapes and peek in on the journey of a fresh, entrepreneurial hair care professional destined to continue her path down the road of brighter futures.
Tammy Sand graduated from a southern Ohio high school in the late 1990’s and went to work at the front desk of a medical institution. One year and one boatload of boredom later, she escaped. Tapping into a love of doing her girlfriends’ hair and guided by an aunt who was a hair stylist, Tammy enrolled in a local college to study cosmetology and business. A few months in and an almost too-good-to-be-true opportunity arose. She scored a ground floor position working at a sixty chair Intercoiffure influenced salon. In less than a year Tammy had her own chair.
For the next seven years Tammy pursued continuous education, countless certifications and a never-ending well of peer knowledge, wisdom and support. The key to that last statement is peer because management was nonexistent*. This atmosphere afforded a certain amount of freedom that Tammy and serious coworkers took advantage of by helping each other increase their skills and professionalism. One detriment to hands-off management was hands-off building care. And the decline of a vibrant infrastructure for customers proved instrumental when the muse whispered a long time truth into Tammy's ear. "It's time to move to Florida girl."
Tammy and her husband, Joe, moved to Florida in 2008. Armed with sparkling letters of reference, Tammy took to the task of finding work in Tampa. She met with some indifference, rudeness and lack of professionalism as she made her way from salon to salon. Fortunately those did not constitute the area's majority and Tammy quickly found a position in a New Tampa salon and spa as a contractor. It was during the next few years that her mettle would be tested and character forged.
There wasn't enough business at this salon to sustain Tammy. So she worked out an arrangement with an Ohio colleague to commute back once every six weeks and spend one fifty hour week cranking out hair care for former and new clients. Tammy pushed this frenetic pace for two and a half years. Then a tossed-out piece of direct mail almost cost her a shot at an opportunity that she'd been long coveting. Fortunately a coworker received the same opportunity in the mail and told Tammy. Rich and Mary Saltzman were beginning to lay the groundwork for their yet-to-open New Tampa Sola Salon Studios. A chance to be her own boss, set her own schedule and care for clients on her own terms was just what Tammy needed.
Walk into Tammy's fully operational studio now and the first thing you feel is comfort. It totally reflects the disposition of a professional business woman bent on providing customer delight. As a matter of fact during my last visit, Tammy was enlightening me on the complexities and importance of studio lighting. Her end of the conversation bordered on science while mine bordered on silence. I was in awe of the thought and care she put into getting it just right.
Nearly two months in as sole proprietor of Loose Ends at Sola Salons, Tammy reflects upon what thrills her the most:
The freedom and ability to accommodate my clients
That statement not only speaks volumes about Tammy, it puts a frame around past obstacles.
There’s an ember slowly burning below the surface of Tammy Sand, the newly minted business owner. It hungers for the winds of more experience, knowledge and wisdom. As those winds blow and fan the flame of her entrepreneurial spirit, Tammy will continue to evolve and redefine what we've come to expect out of that girl next door.
*The environment at this salon was perplexing. Ownership excelled at a few things but completely missed the boat on others. Furthermore, Tammy's experience with a high school guidance counselor was just plain nauseating. Sometime soon I hope to begin a parallel series to Pieces of Freedom that reflect upon the leadership, management, customer service and education of some of these folks who are quickly becoming my heroes.