It’s an all too familiar refrain. Stories of business closings often dominate local conversations, as does conjecture about just what went wrong.
On the part of the community it takes a recognition of the value of supporting local stores and services and, more importantly, a conscious effort to do exactly that.
But what does it take, on the part of the business, to achieve long-term success?
This month I interviewed the owner of a 20-year Bolton business. In conversation with Luci Verdile part of her recipe for business success effortlessly appeared and, bottom line, it’s mostly about….the effort.
As a young woman in her teens Luci’s post-secondary plans changed, through a twist of fate, and rather than studying fashion and the arts at Humber College she returned to high school for an extra year and a co-op program. That program saw her placed at The Glamour Shop in Bramalea City Centre and an immediate love for make-up artistry was born.
Luci continued to work there after the program ended until one day the owner said to her “You know you’ll only get so far on natural talent alone, you should get some professional training.”
“I ran into a friend one day who had just graduated from Zehava School of Esthetics. Why don’t you consider it? You would learn the skills you are looking for and so much more.” Luci explains.
“Zehava was a woman from Israel who ran a private Toronto-area school that taught the European method, believed by many to be best in the industry. In fact her school was eventually purchased by Elmwood Spa who hired exclusively from it for their Spa. I believe it may have been resold again since that time.”
“Zehava actually interviewed all of her registrants personally. At the time I was holding down 2 part-time jobs and when she found out I intended to go through the program while working she basically informed my dad he should step up and pay, enabling me to study full-time.” she laughs.
“So my parents paid the full costs all up front, which with materials etc, came to about $ 10,000. That was a lot of money and a sacrifice for them. I decided then and there I would make the effort and reach for Zehava’s highest level. While her pass mark was 75% her honours level was 95%. There were only myself and 2 other students in a class of 30 that passed with honours.”
After graduating Luci got to work setting up shop in her parents’ basement so she could get started on building a clientele. Almost immediately she had a call from her hairdresser, Jimmy Pountney, pointing out that Images Hair Salon did not have an Esthetician and that there was an opportunity for her there. However excitement turned into a challenge when, after just a few short weeks at Images, the Salon was informed that another Esthetician had exclusive rights in the plaza and that Luci would need to move on.
“I remember overhearing the conversation and crying. They had been so good to me there, it was such a positive environment. Then, the owner said to Jimmy “You’ve always talked about wanting to open up your own salon, maybe this is the right time. So, at the ages of 21 and 19, Jimmy and I opened our first location, in the Courtyards in the Bolton core. That was 20 years ago.”
Asked if she has any advice for young entrepreneurs Luci hits the mark. “Often people say they want to open their own business so they can be their own boss. To that I say actually I have a new boss every hour. Every person who sits in that chair is my boss.” she smiles.
“While there are a lot of benefits to owning your own business it doesn’t come without plenty of hard work and dedication,” she adds. “If you do not set up hours and a schedule and accept responsibilities you cannot be successful. If you think you are just going to come and go as you please, and not commit to a schedule and making a solid effort, it is not a good approach.”
“It takes years, it does not happen overnight. There will be years when it is tough to make ends meet. But if you work hard and persevere it will pay off. My business isn’t really Creative F-X, my business is me. If I don’t show my face there is no business. I have never regretted my choice. My clients have crossed the line to become friends” she says with a huge genuine smile.
In closing Luci talks about her love for working in the Bolton valley. “It’s a great community and here in the core it’s like a community within a community. There’s a wonderful sense of neighbourliness and the salons even help each other out. We are not in competition we are just in the same industry.”
Luci Verdile can be found at Creative F-X at 11 Queen St north, Bolton 905-857-1847
Her services include manicures, pedicures, gel nails, shellac, waxing and make-up.