After more than 20 years in the industry, Colleen Sullivan-Stroh has recently reinvented herself as a visiting hairdresser and started her business, In Home Hair Care Services.
Finding a new way to do what she loves put Sullivan-Stroh ahead when the economy forced hairdressers to compete for business.
“I thought the way the economy is now I need to reinvent myself because hairdressers are a dime a dozen. Nobody does this, and it’s a really needed service. I’ve done it for a couple years and just recently decided to make it a legit business because it’s in high demand now,” said Sullivan-Stroh.
Previously, Sullivan-Stroh owned her own salon, Bridge Street Hair Studio, but found that making house calls was a more convenient option for her clientele. Sullivan-Stroh caters to the elderly and disabled, making weekly visits to senior housing developments. Because she schedules several appointments in one building, she is able to keep the cost of her services to a price low-income clients can afford on a weekly basis.
“The good thing about this business is I don’t have a lot of overhead. I’ve got my car, my materials and my time. So it makes it a really easy job to do and keep track of,” said Sullivan-Stroh.
She discovered the need for a visiting hairdresser service after a severe snowstorm had her regulars unable to come in to the salon one year. When her clients called in a panic about their hair, she decided to brave the storm herself so they would not have to.
“I told them I would come to their houses. Come to find out, it went on a lot longer than I thought,” said Sullivan-Stroh.
Once word-of-mouth spread that she was making in-home appointments, she was in high demand. After closing her shop, Sullivan-Stroh ran a small salon out of her home while making in-home appointments as well. Since then, business has been going so well that she recently decided to start In Home Hair Care Services.
Her business is just getting off the ground, she said, but one day she hopes to hire employees and expand. With the way it is going, Sullivan-Stroh seems to be moving in that direction. Working in adult group homes helps to drum up more business as well.
“I might be scheduled for one or two and they’re all watching and ask, ‘Can I get my hair done too?’ They feel so good about themselves when they look great afterward. Everyone wants to look good. When you look good you feel good,” said Sullivan-Stroh.
On average, she said she usually visits 20 to 30 customers per week. But during busier times of the year, such as the holiday season, she will make between 50 and 100 appointments per week.
She is like the postman, Sullivan-Stroh said: rain, sleet, snow or hail she has to be there for her clients.
“Sometimes I’m the only one they see throughout the whole week. So they’re not just clients, they’re friends. They look forward to it. It’s like cheap medicine,” she said.
Semi-retired and making little revenue, Sullivan-Stroh said her new business is not making her rich, but is more a labor of love.