By Kassie Parisi
CLIFTON PARK — After a decade of business, Zen Hair Studio has been able to remain a staple in the town’s community and a friend to its customers.
Salon owner Leah DesBois opened the store with her husband in September of 2007. Originally located on the corner of Route. 146 and Vischer Ferry Road, the salon recently moved into a new building on Main Street.
But while the salon’s color scheme has changed from a warm yellow to a soothing silver, everything else, from the welcoming atmosphere to the reputation of being a place to relax, has remained the same.
DesBois has been styling hair since she was 17 years old. Though times have changed, she said, and it now takes 1000 hours of practical experience and a state exam, she has seen people from all different walks of life enter the cosmetology sphere.
“We actually have to go through a lot of training,” DesBois said.
Right now, Zen has 10 stylists on staff, two assistant professionals, and four reservationists. Age isn’t necessarily a factor while DesBois is seeking new people. More important, she said, is whether or not people are seeking to further themselves.
“I look for ambition,” she said. “I look for people who are motivated, who are going to motivate me.”
DesBois noted that she learns every day, even though she’s the boss. DesBois, who grew up in Schenectady, said that she never dreamed she would be in the leadership position that she’s in now. Switching over to an ownership role isn’t good for everyone, she said. But, owning a salon allows her to make small adjustments that she wouldn’t be able to if she had remained an employee, such as having magazines and snacks available for customers.
DesBois also doesn’t pretend to know everything. She asks all different types of clients who come in for advice, with the intention of taking something away and bettering the salon constantly.
“I learn every day,” she said. “I still don’t feel like I’m the epitome of the best.”
She’s always on the clock as well, she said. Her phone is on constantly, and she’s always prepared to stop what she’s doing to solve whatever issues might pop up. Her business, DesBois said, can be unpredictable.
“Today can be so much different than tomorrow. Right now can be so much different than tonight,” she said.
The real key to running a successful salon though, is forming a family. DesBois instructs all of her employees to do their best to form relationships with customers, because customers will come back if they have a good experience, not just a haircut that they like.
DesBois admitted that she was slightly worried when she moved a whole mile away from the old location, but the reception has been stellar, she said. More people are coming in now than ever before, and she’s predicating that the upswing will continue.
“I don’t even have my hours or my phone number on the door yet, and this busy, so I’m really okay with the way things are going,” she said.