BY SHERI TRUSTY
Growing up in Ashland, Sue Conroy knew she wanted to one day be a hairdresser. Now, she has 44 years of experience in the business and is celebrating 35 years as the owner of Hair Quarters, one of the only commissioned, full-service salons in Port Clinton.
As a teen, Conroy took a career assessment test which pointed her to both hairdressing and marketing. She had discovered her niche.
“I was a very social and a creative person. I loved messing with hair. Now, it’s pretty much been my whole life,” Conroy said. “I’ve always loved it. I’ve had a big passion for it since the moment I started doing it.”
Conroy has worked to keep Hair Quarters, located at 332 Buckeye Blvd., Port Clinton, a primarily commissioned salon, which creates a culture of teamwork among the staff. Instead of being a shop full of independent business owners, Hair Quarters operates through collaboration.
This brings a higher level of service that gives clients access to the skillset of the entire staff. Hair Quarters offers a wide range of services, including haircuts, color, perms, facials, waxing, manicures and pedicure. Appointments can be made at 419-732-3302.
“To maintain a commissioned salon in today’s world is hard, but we’re a team,” Conroy said.
Conroy has seen a lot of changes over more than four decades in the business. Online megastores have threatened to impact retail sales, although she does well with her ongoing buy-three-get-20%-off deal.
“My prices are the same as the online stores,” she said. “People are good and will come into the salon for products.”
In recent years, online tutorials have tempted customers away from professional services.
“Everything’s on YouTube, so we fix a lot of screwups,” Conroy said.
While a lot has changed in the beauty world over the last four decades, one thing has remained the same: Conroy’s longstanding customers. She has many clients who have remained loyal for years.
“Now I’m doing their kids and grandkids. When you’ve got 40 years in, you’ve done a lot of people. They’ve grown up with me,” she said. “I’m always trying to be creative for my customers. I’m always trying to be a good hairdresser.”
One big change in her clientele is the number of men who make appointments.
“We’ve always had men, but in the last eight years, we’ve had many more,” Conroy said. “Many of them get pedicures, too. We have an upscale atmosphere. We’re not a female-looking salon.
Conroy credits her success to her commitment to her clients and to the people in her life who have helped her business grow.
“My husband ran a marina and retired last year. He’s my business partner. A big part of the success of a salon is having a good business partner,” Conroy said. “And I have two women who have been with me for 30 years. They’re a big part of my success, too.”
Helping her staff also find success is a foundational element of Conroy’s business. Later this month, she will take her employees to a hair show in Chicago where they’ll learn about the latest trends and techniques.
“It’s motivating, and it’s one of the fun parts of the business,” Conroy said. “After all these years, I don’t need to go, but I have new staff and I want them to experience it. I want to keep them engaged. I want them to be successful hairdressers. This is a fun business, and you can make a good living at it, but it takes perseverance to sustain it.”