LUTZ — Trisha Jordan was six months pregnant and on her knees installing laminate flooring in her new salon. She and her three partners had only a few days left before opening the doors to Element 54.
The May 20 opening date loomed as Jordan, 31, and her friend, stylist Shanda Baker, 32, along with Shanda's parents Sam and Rose Baker hurried to make the finishing touches. Following a year of developing a comprehensive business plan and nearly exhausting their resources, the determined team was buoyed in April by a financial award from the Pasco County Economic Development Council.
Their process of creating an innovative approach to salon services began by combining Shanda's experience in design, Sam's background in industrial sales and Rose's technology expertise. The family then recruited Jordan, a Paul Mitchell Inc. consultant, for her 10 years of experience providing retail and educational support to a dozen salons throughout Florida.
"We took a slow deliberate approach toward a business plan," Jordan said. "With six to 10 salons closing per day in Florida, along with stylists frequently relocating, we knew we had to concentrate on an amazing experience for stylists as well as for our guests."
Element 54 Salon is divided into six private sections surrounding the core for haircuts: a lather lounge with an emphasis on long, relaxing shampoos and treatments; a rapid intake blow dry station; a full-service nail station; a waxing room; a color processing lounge; and a room dedicated to men, offering traditional hot shaves, "manscaping," and sports television.
"We recognized a growing market for masculine grooming and quick blow dry services for ladies on the run," Jordan said. "We even offer free wine and beers."
Market research suggested they abandon massage and facial therapies to growing competition from medical professionals who can accept health insurance. So Element 54 puts the emphasis on pampering hair and nail care. It boasts 10 hair styling stations with five stylists working on a commission basis. Jordan chose high-end product lines for quality and because their industry reps offer ongoing business and styling support to her staff.
"We promote a team approach by keeping everybody busy with flexible hours," Jordan said. "We feel like we're ahead of the curve by being open 60 hours Monday through Saturday."
"Everybody pitches in with laundry, cleaning and distributing brochures to neighboring businesses and homes," she added.
The Pasco County Economic Development Council, which has offered free expert guidance to small businesses for 27 years, helps new ventures that may not qualify for traditional bank loans. Element 54 Salon's application for the microloan program was approved in April, one of nine similar awards this year.
"There is no shortage of beauty salons in our area," said Economic Development Manager Krista Hakes. "But they had all of their ideas in place. Our committee took into consideration the blow dry bar and separate barbering services. Most of all, they demonstrated the experience and know-how needed for successful entrepreneurs."
The financial details of the microloan are confidential but meaningful. The Element 54 partners invested the funds in equipment, marketing and a financial cushion.
The business is a true collaboration among four Midwestern transplants: Rose Baker handles bookkeeping and technology services, Sam Baker supervises all the building construction and maintenance, Shanda brings an artistic eye to décor and developing trends in hair design, and Jordan manages customer relations and retail sales.
Element 54 is now up and running six days a week. They will host a grand opening Aug. 4 with music, a sidewalk sale, raffles and free keratin treatments.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Element 54 Salon in Lutz will have its grand opening from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 4. A story Sunday gave an incorrect date.