Anna Marie Disylvester was born April 25, 1979 in Wheaton, Illinois. After graduating from North Central College with an international business degree and a minor in Spanish in 2001, she taught for Matrix as a color educator. In 2005, she opened Exposed Salon and in 2018 relocated to 310 S Main St #106, Lombard, IL 60148.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
My fascination with the beauty industry probably started when I was five. Every night my mom would put my hair in rollers or pin curls and paint my nails for the following school day while our family watched a movie. I would show up to kindergarten with these super fashionable hairstyles and be all glammed up.
I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. My dad owned an automobile wrecking yard and my mom owned a hair salon that she opened at eighteen.
Our high school offered beauty school during our junior and senior year. I decided to go so I could work at my mom’s salon during college. I saw how hard my mom worked for so many hours and I thought, “Wow, I never want to do that for a career.” However, through my four years of college, I worked full time and started building a clientele.
I started studying academics at College of Dupage and upon graduating, I was offered the presidential scholarship at Elmhurst College and a similar one at North Central. After graduation, I started researching corporate jobs to shift my career towards my international business degree. During this time, my mom had an accident and thus needed to sell her salon. We rented chairs at a salon near her old one.
Everything changed one day when our color and product distributor came in and asked if I would be interested in being a color educator. She knew my work and my personality and felt I should give it a try. It was a game changer.
I was hired with Matrix, a global hair color company. It was a great opportunity. They flew us nationally and internationally to train with the best hairstylists in the industry. I worked local hair shows as an artistic designer: doing stage work, styling people’s hair, and educating them on the newest trends and techniques. I also educated stylists in salons across the state. I am so grateful for the fantastic experience.
But I came to a fork in the road around age 23-24, when I had to make a career choice. I had a great clientele at this point, and my brother’s soon-to-be-wife as well as my niece were both joining the industry. My sister even worked as our receptionist. I was offered a position in an international company doing what I studied in college and a permanent job with Matrix in New York City working with all the top designers to educate.
I believe my career decision came to me randomly as I was entering these different salons to teach. I felt I had something unique to offer the industry. I had a passion for my clients, and I loved making them feel beautiful. There is no experience like it. I also wanted a place where my family could work and be happy and comfortable every day.
So I made my decision and never looked back. A client introduced me to an HGTV interior designer. He helped me create the first Exposed in 2005. Twelve years later, we decided to expand the salon, tripling our size. The new location will have tons of surprises. Every day that goes by I never feel like I am “working.” I started the salon with my family and grew it tremendously with staff and all of my lovely clients. I am so grateful.
Tell us about your business.
One of the main things that set us apart is the love we have for our clients. We put great care into every one of their haircuts and colors. We treat them like family. We provide all hair services like hair cutting, hair coloring, perming, hair straightening, and waxing. The whole staff believes greatly in education.
As I learned early on, training is what sets you apart. Knowing all the latest trends and techniques is key. Another major component is we treat each other like family and help each other out. In any job industry, you need backup and people to look out for you.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
If you make return appointment while concluding your first appointment, you receive a discount. If you send in three friends, you receive a free haircut.
- I won an award for the design of the salon.
- I also have an international business degree.
- I also used to be a Matrix color educator for around 5 years.
Where is your business based?
310 S Main Street #106, Lombard, IL 60148.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
Worked three jobs to save money. Looked for a location for two years.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
I believe the most effective way to get customers is by referral.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Just last year, we had a person drive through the side of our wall. No one was hurt, thankfully! But it took our landlord months to fix it and this is a main reason for relocating.
How did you overcome these challenges?
In the beginning, I had a lot of negative thoughts brought on by people close to me. They all said not to do it and that I would fail. One was a boyfriend. Honestly, this helped drive me forward. Oh, and I dumped him!
Another thing was when I hurt my back pretty bad from running. I was in unbelievable pain for two years while working and standing on my feet every day. I had gone to several doctors and physical therapists who were unable to help me.
A very dear client put me in touch with a great physical therapist, and I have been pain-free ever since for around four years.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I like to read. I also spend time with my family.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
What is the best advice you have received recently?
I learned from my mom to never compare yourself to others. Always do your own best.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
I would say go for it. Everyone will give you a reason not to, including yourself. Don’t listen; just act.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
My clients. I have a lot of other business owner clients, and it’s nice to bounce ideas off of each other.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
“People Tools For Business” is a great business book.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
Right now I am working on internet presence.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
I would like to generate new customers from the internet.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.