extraordinary small business
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About this Episode

In this episode,  Zanya Gissler & Filomena Cook, owners of Zanya Spa Salon. This extraordinary small business is headed by 2 yin and yang business partners whose talents complement each other to form a killer business combination.  We learned a lot about what it means to run a small business with a large staff, how to overcome setbacks and how to succeed in a business partnership. Whether you are a small business owner or just love to support small and local businesses, this show is for you.

Episode Transcript

Filomena Cook 0:00
For one of the hurricanes, we had been closed for almost three weeks. And when you have a huge payroll as much as ours is, I mean, if we had been closed probably another three or four days we wouldn’t be here to tell you the story.

Angela Giovine 0:15
Pop culture has become obsessed with entrepreneurship stories from Silicon Valley, and big startup. But the backbone of our economy is made of small local businesses. Every day, millions of small business owners deliver quality products and services, support the local economy, employ their neighbors and follow their passion. We think their stories are worth telling. I’m Angela Giovine. Welcome to the extra ordinary small business podcast. Today on the show, Zanya Gissler and Filomena Cook the dynamic duo behind Zanya Spa Salon. How did these two business partners grow their beauty empire from a four chair shop to a 10,000 square foot spa and salon. We sat down with Zanya and Filomena to hear their unique approach to beauty and wellness.

Angela Giovine 1:11
Along the Delaware River is the picturesque town of Lambertville New Jersey, housed within a handsomely renovated brick factory, Zanya Spa Salon is known not only as a place for best in class beauty services, but as a local center for wellness. At the helm of the ship, two yin and yang business partners, whose talents complement each other to form a killer business combination. Zanya, the beauty industry veteran and Filomena, the savvy and disciplined business leader. We learned a lot about what it means to run a small business with a large staff, how to overcome setbacks, and how to succeed in business partnerships. So I’m so happy to be sitting with you guys today, the two female business owners who are also business partners. You’ve been in business together for 10 years?

Filomena Cook 2:08

Angela Giovine 2:08
15 years. So I want to hear the origin story. Tell me about where you were in your career before you became business owners and then how you met?

Zanya Gissler 2:18
Oh so very long story, but I’ll try to shorten it. I was always obsessed as a young girl with fashion, and I was like a weirdo that would go to the grocery store back in the day, they had this little tiny pocket books that you could see a little different hairstyles in it. And I would go home and I would try to morph my hair into those styles even though I didn’t have the haircut or anything, any way of doing it. And just always obsessed with, fashion particularly. When I was in high school, I made a lot of my own clothes as my parents couldn’t really afford the clothes I wanted from reading all the magazines. I wanted what all the famous models were wearing. So I decided I would make my own clothes. So I started doing that. And then I went to school for fashion design and got out of the school and got a job in the industry, and realized I didn’t really like the industry that it was kind of cutthroat, and people were always angry, and I just didn’t like it. And it was so weird for me because I was such a directed young person where I knew where I was going. And I took all the steps to get to my goal. And when I got there, not liking it was pretty, pretty bad. And then I just quit my job one day, I said I’m not doing this anymore, without a clue as to what I was going to do moving forward. And, you know, I just thought, I just can’t, and I’ll figure it out. And I went for a haircut. And my friend was my hairdresser. And she was asking me what was going on, and I explained to her, that I just quit my job. I didn’t know what to do. And she said said, you know, you might want to try doing hair because it’s in fashion and you use your hands, and you know, yeah. And I was just thought about it for two seconds and thought, oh my god. I’m mold in school. My parents were very upset because they thought, you know, like most people, it’s a very stigmatized profession. And they said, you know, you’re too smart for that bla bla and I thought about it and it was I’ve been cutting fabric my whole life, like cutting fabric, making things out of it. And hair’s another fabric. You know, it’s just a different type of fabric. And they finally got it I my parents paid for my college but then I took out loans to go to school, I enrolled and for the second I picked up a pair of scissors, I absolutely loved it. It was like natural for me. And then because I was at a fashion background, I really I was obsessed with fashion magazines. As a young girl. I wanted to do hair for fashion magazines and runway shows. And I knew that I had to live in New York to do that. So I left I was living in Boston at the time and I moved to New York City and crashed with my cousins till they booted me out and who were already there living in Manhattan in the 70s. They were very cool my cousins and started doing hair in New York and I had decided from reading magazines once again that I wanted to either work for Garren at the Plaza Hotel or Suga at Bergdorf Goodman because they were the two hairdressers that had were doing all the models hair in Vogue at the time, and Harper’s Bazaar, and I want to work for them. And that was it. And there were no other choices. So God helped me if I didn’t get a job at either of those places. I really wanted to work for Garren the most but when I went there, it was really like a male mafia there, like a gay mafia like there was no women in the entire business. There were no- wasn’t a woman. I don’t think there was one woman that worked there. So it was really weird. I yeah, I didn’t get a job there. But then I went to Suga, and I got a job there at Bergdorf . It was second choice, but things happen for a reason. And I was really happy there. It was a really cool experience because at the time it was all Japanese hairdressers, primarily. I mean, there were some people from other countries. It was sort of like the United Nations there. I was one of the few Americans working there doing hair, and one of the few women. But it took me two years to get a chair there. I had to wash hair for two years.

Angela Giovine 5:56
And what year was that?

Zanya Gissler 5:57
That was in 1980 1981 I believe, and I was already a hairdresser in Boston and had worked for the top salon in Boston. I have gone through their apprenticeship program prior to moving to New York, but that didn’t matter. I had to start all over again. So

Angela Giovine 6:11
Well it’s in New York.

Zanya Gissler 6:12
Right, exactly. They didn’t really care. But I had some really cool people I worked with that really took me under their wing there at Bergdorf Goodman and push the manager to give me a chance.

Angela Giovine 6:20
During that time you achieved your goal of doing models hair and and whatnot, right?

Zanya Gissler 6:25
Not at that point, I realized when I got to New York that I had a lot to learn. When I started out, I worked for a gentleman named John Dellaria, who had the top salons in Boston and then at time period hair was really very sculptural, and working for him, the haircut had to be the style so like literally, no hot rollers were allowed in the salon, no round brushes were allowed in the salon, no curling irons were allowed in the salon, it was very Sassoon. It was like you could use a Denman brush and you could use a Mason Pearson brush that was it, to sale the hair. So you literally had to use your hands or use those two things, but there wasn’t a lot of change in the texture, the cut was the style. The cut had to stand on its own and be the style. So the fact that I wanted to do hair for fashion magazines, you really don’t cut the hair unless you’re doing makeovers. It’s basically taking whatever hair on the model walks in with that day and morphing it into whatever styles you’re going to do with it. So you know, I really didn’t have a lot of experience coming from John Dellaria in styling hair and I needed to do that homework working behind the chair on the salon at Bergdorf Goodman and I learned a lot from the Japanese hairdressers who were master stylists. So I ended up in a really good place in terms of that and just kept my goal in my head and there weren’t really very many women doing it at all, doing hair on the studio. It was primarily men.

Angela Giovine 7:45
How many years then did you stay there, you know in the industry before you decided to go to the next step?

Zanya Gissler 7:51
I was at Bergdorf for five years, and then I went to work for an a very famous editorial hairdresser at the time named Gad Cohen, who was named Vogue and I thought, if I could kind of be there in that salon that maybe if he couldn’t do a shoot, he would send me or you know, that kind of thing. And you know, that was I was just kept focusing on that goal and working there actually, when I was at Bergdorf Goodman, right before I left, there was a colorist that work there that we really became friendly. And that colorist went, to FIT with Michael Kors. And he Michael had asked him to do the hair for his runway shows and Billy was his name, he was terrified of the models, like he would just stand in the corner and wouldn’t want to touch them or anything. So I had been on my days off doing testing like the model agencies, they test new girls and they have like the thing where if you’re an up and coming photographer or makeup or hair person, you all get together with these up and coming models on your days off and you shoot pictures, that the model puts in her book and you put in your book and the photographer puts in their book and so you develop a portfolio because you have to get a portfolio somehow. If you’re not getting paid jobs, you have to take get pictures. So on my days off, I was doing that. So I had somewhat of a portfolio from that. Anyway Billy, was like will you do my friends fashion show? I hate it. I can’t stand it and he was very, very dramatic, and he was very funny and he was a colorist. He wasn’t really a stylist. So he didn’t really know this thing he was terrified of the girls because the girls could be really bitchy. The models could feel in your hands if you as soon as you touch their head if you knew what you’re doing, and if they felt you didn’t know what you’re doing, they tortured you. So Billy asked me to help him do Michael show and helping him, I didn’t realize meant that he was going to be literally standing in the corner shaking, not touching anyone’s head because he was so terrified. So I ended up doing the whole show. And Michael love my work because I’m not really big into putting a lot of products in the hair.

Angela Giovine 9:48
So was that Michael Kors first show?

Zanya Gissler 9:50
It was his first or second show. I think it was like his second show. He really loved natural hair and I really wasn’t a big product person. So I think he loved that the hair was done, they look great and wasn’t stiff and it wasn’t like really hairsprayed to death. I mean, he said, Would you do my shows? And I said, Sure. So, at the time I was bartering for clothes because I had no money. And I still have the first shirt that I bartered for. It was like one shirt. One Michael Kors shirt.

Angela Giovine 10:17
What year? In the 80s, or the 90s?

Zanya Gissler 10:19
It was the 80s.

Angela Giovine 10:19
In the 80s.

Zanya Gissler 10:20

Angela Giovine 10:21
So meanwhile in the 80s Filomena, you were not anywhere near the fashion and beauty industry?

Filomena Cook 10:27
Oh, I am totally opposite Zanya.

Angela Giovine 10:29
Let’s hear your story.

Filomena Cook 10:30
Yes, I was in the black and white industry in terms of numbers. In the 80s, I was working part time at an accounting practice and going to Rider full time, in the morning. My dad had a small construction company at the time, so I was helping him with the books at night. So I literally worked from 8 am to 8 pm every single day. But numbers were my life, my passion. I love them. I knew from the time I was in grammar school that I wanted to be an accountant. And that’s what I ended up doing. In the 80s. I joined a small firm, and within three years I became a partner there. And I loved it. I loved that I was business taxes. I didn’t really enjoy the individuals because they would come with their shoeboxes, of receipts and it was really painful, really painful. So I liked the corporate and partnership returns, I met with the owners once or twice and got the work done, got the returns out the door. So I loved the numbers aspect of it and giving them advice. I had a lot of small business owners. My experience was with contractors, restaurants, and hair salons. My hair salon experience was not very good. I had three clients that were small beauty shops, and I was at the IRS or the state of New Jersey making deals pretty much every quarter.

Angela Giovine 11:51
For people who had, not done their bills right or their taxes right.

Filomena Cook 11:55
That is correct.

Angela Giovine 11:56

Filomena Cook 11:56
Yes. It became that everybody at the IRS knew who I was as I walked in the door. It was really funny, but not really.

Angela Giovine 12:03
Right. Right. And that was in the Philadelphia region?

Filomena Cook 12:06
That was in the city of Trenton.

Angela Giovine 12:08
Trenton. Okay.

Filomena Cook 12:10
I was local.

Angela Giovine 12:12
Okay, and how long did you do this?

Filomena Cook 12:14
I did it until 1997.

Angela Giovine 12:16
Okay, take me to how you two meet. Zanya you were out on your own before you met Fil?

Zanya Gissler 12:23
Yes, actually well from the whole Michael Kors thing I then was freelance for seven years in New York and then I moved out here in 1993 and was still freelance and flying all leveraging models hair for magazines and catalogs, advertising all that stuff. And moved out here and realized there was a need for a good salon out here and open my first little four-chair salon in New Hope in 1995.

Angela Giovine 12:50
And when you did that, did you give up the New York stuff? Or you’re doing everything at once?

Zanya Gissler 12:55
Well, I opened that first salon with 10 clients, and people that hear that story in the industry said, well, you have really big you know what’s or you’re like crazy, because nobody usually does that. But I was like, I’ve never failed in anything. I’m not going to fail, I’m just going to do whatever I need to do to be successful.

Angela Giovine 13:14
So how long did you have a four-chair salon?

Zanya Gissler 13:16
From 1995 to 2004. But I started out in New Hope with myself and one other employee.

Angela Giovine 13:23
So 2004 comes and did you know each other at that point?

Filomena Cook 13:29
No, someone had recommended me to Zanya to review her business plans.

Angela Giovine 13:33
As an accountant?

Filomena Cook 13:34
As an accountant.

Angela Giovine 13:35

Filomena Cook 13:35
That is correct.

Angela Giovine 13:36
When you first met, It was a business relationship in terms of you’re her client?

Filomena Cook 13:41
Yes, it was she was a client and we were working on just reviewing the business plan that Zani had already started before I walked in the door. We looked at contracts together, we did a lot of projects together. But to be honest with you, I was a little hesitant, when I first met her because my experience was not very good, but then I saw that she really had her act together. And she had a payroll company that was doing her payroll and-

Angela Giovine 14:06
So you were hesitant in terms of working with her at all, because you had worked with other salons.

Filomena Cook 14:09
Just it was the other salons that really tainted my-

Angela Giovine 14:12
So when you met, it wasn’t even like, let’s go in business together.

Filomena Cook 14:16
Oh, no.

Angela Giovine 14:16
do I really want another salon client?

Filomena Cook 14:18
Exactly. But she came with high recommendations. And apparently I came with high recommendations also.

Angela Giovine 14:24
So at that point, were you already thinking about expanding? How did you guys figure out that you might want to be business partners?

Zanya Gissler 14:31
Well, I had a dream of of having a larger salon from the time I opened my little one. It was so weird. And I talked about it and talked about and talked about it and, people have come to me now and said, Oh my god, Zanya, I really thought you were crazy, because you were always talking about opening this big place and we really never believed it was going to happen. But you did it. And it was like I just said always talked about it, talked about it, talked about it. And I really do believe in manifestation. I do. I believe that you create what you think and what you speak and you really have to put it out what you want out there and just stay determined about it. And you know, the thing about life is that most people when you tell them an idea of what you want to do, they don’t come back with, Oh, that sounds great. Usually they come back with concerns and you know, things to make you more fearful and more worried about doing it. And our own mind does that to ourselves like, if you have an idea and you think it yourself, the first thing that jumps into your head aren’t supportive thoughts. They’re always the what ifs. So I spoke that I wanted a bigger place for many, many years. And then I started looking for space, I wrote a business plan, I knew that the area was right for a really good day spa, and I had help writing my business plan. And I kind of just did the numbers which Lord, I can’t believe I tried to do that but I was good at writing the other portions of the business plan because I had it so like all in my head, it was just in there. It just came flying out when it came to demographics and location and like what the theme of the business was going to be, all that was in there and then you know I started looking at space. And this space became available. It was pretty magical. And then, was time to get the financing. And I was kind of up against it. And somebody was telling me I really should have a partner really should have a partner, but I didn’t really want to have a partner at that time. I wasn’t sure. But anyway, I met Fil.

Angela Giovine 16:20
Having a business partner is not unlike having a marriage, right? So being able to find one, pick one, especially after you’ve already started a business, that business is your baby. That has to be a really difficult decision.

Filomena Cook 16:34
Well, I will say too that we did not become partners immediately. We wanted to have a honeymoon period that’s prior to the marriage. So we had three years together before, I became a business partner because I wanted to make sure that I was the right fit, and she was the right fit for me.

Angela Giovine 16:52
During the honeymoon period is when you grew into the larger spa and salon? Or-

Filomena Cook 16:56
Yes, we came here and I still had the practice. And I was working part time there because I had children, and I wasn’t sure where my next career step was going to be. So then I was here in maybe 15 20 hours a week when we first started. But Zani and I, got along perfectly. She’s the creative, and I’m the numbers.

Angela Giovine 17:17
And magically, you had the skill set to help her get the financing, which was where you were sort of running into a wall.

Zanya Gissler 17:24
Absolutely. It was really frustrating because I was talking to bankers, and mostly they weren’t real bankers and they would say things like, Oh, I color my wife’s hair myself, or, oh, you know, I cut my own whatever.

Filomena Cook 17:38
I go to the barber for $10.

Zanya Gissler 17:40
Yeah, and they just though I was make- Yes and I was really really, really conservative with the numbers because I know that banks really want you to be conservative with your projected sales. I was extremely the conservative, and they still didn’t believe my Oh, who would pay that for a haircut. You know, it’s that kind of comments and it was just really ridiculous. So when I met Fil, and she was then we’re going to shop the banks together and she was going to go out like before me. And actually, I said, don’t even bother with male bankers.

Filomena Cook 18:06
And we I I was lucky because I did have two female bankers that I had previously done business with. So they were the ones that came in and we did the original financing with one, and then a couple of years later, we refinance with the second banker.

Angela Giovine 18:21
So all of your growth has really been bootstrapped or bank loan without an outside investors or venture capitalists or anything like that.

Filomena Cook 18:29
That is correct. That is 100% ours. Were very proud of that.

Angela Giovine 18:32
That’s amazing. So that move from being the sole owner to becoming a partner, tell me about that change and what kind of changes that created in your business life and, and all around?

Zanya Gissler 18:44
I would say that it’s been really positive. I mean, there have been times when we’ve butted heads, but it would not be this successful if we didn’t have each other. I really believe that because we both bring such different skills and the beginnings of this company, were really tough because we moved here because we had tons of debt. I mean, she was robbing Peter to pay Paul, I just remember her being in that office trying to figure out how to make ends meet. We opened this place up with like, I don’t know how many employees

Filomena Cook 19:11
14, we had seven full time and seven part time.

Angela Giovine 19:15
And how many do you have today?

Filomena Cook 19:17
We have 60 employees of which 42 are full time and 18 are part time.

Zanya Gissler 19:23
She knows the exact numbers for that.

Angela Giovine 19:25
It’s always good to have a number numbers person. And it’s also so awesome to have business partners who are so complimentary, as opposed to there being confusion around who owns what part of the business, it seems to be very clear about who drives which parts of the business here.

Filomena Cook 19:42
I agree. And I think that’s important and I think that’s why we work but I will tell you that we still have to share certain tasks. And for me, the most important thing, it’s just you you’re correct, it is like a marriage. And it’s all about communication, respect, and you have to talk it through. Listen, we’re both Italian, don’t think that there’s not some days when we don’t

Angela Giovine 20:03

Zanya Gissler 20:03
scream at each other or slam the door because that happens too. But it’s okay, because we’ve, you forgive it all,

Filomena Cook 20:10
Because we’re all in this for one reason and one reason only,

Angela Giovine 20:12
and you speak the same language so to speak.

Filomena Cook 20:14

Zanya Gissler 20:15
Yeah, I think it’s difficult. I was married to someone who is very Midwestern and very Swedish, and just did not understand the yelling and the screaming, and that’s, you have to go up an Italian household.

Angela Giovine 20:26
I am also Italian. So I am very familiar with the screaming.

Zanya Gissler 20:30
Yeah. And then, you know, you could really be mad at each other and then two seconds later, I love you. I love you too. I’m sorry. I’m sorry too and then it’s gone.

Angela Giovine 20:38
You exercised the demons and- yeah,

Zanya Gissler 20:41
It’s true. But I think you know, in the beginning, we both did things like I started working longer hours I had, I took a pay cut when I moved here from the other place. I did whatever I personally could to generate more income. I was very stubborn and thankfully, Fil really backed me on this because it took a lot of sacrifices for us. I really wanted to grow from the ground up. I wanted to get people out of school and teach them to be really good hairdressers and put them on the floor one by one and why to stick with my philosophy of being departmentalized. And you know, a lot of salons when they open, they’ll just hire people that are local that already have followings just to fill their chairs and to have a busier book and we haven’t done that. We’ve literally every single person that works here, providing services we have gotten out of school and trained and we’ve brought them up ourselves internally. And so it’s taken us much longer to have a full staff. I mean, we’re not we’re still not even completely full in terms of the chairs that we have that we could have fulfilled it

Filomena Cook 21:39
In two years we will be though.

Zanya Gissler 21:41
Yeah we will be.

Filomena Cook 21:41
2 years we’ll be fully staffed.

Zanya Gissler 21:42
But I mean, I have to say that just talking it out now she made a huge sacrifice too by supporting me and my vision and and not pushing me that’s the difference between having an investor, I think and having a business partner because she saw the effects of you know, generating our own staff members through training as opposed just bring in anybody, I think an investor would have been just wanting to get a return on their dollar

Angela Giovine 22:04
Warm bodies.

Filomena Cook 22:05
Right, exactly.

Zanya Gissler 22:06
Get them in,

Filomena Cook 22:06
Get them out, yeah.

Zanya Gissler 22:07
And that would have compromised our quality control and our, you know, just our whole culture

Filomena Cook 22:13
Philosophy, everything.

Angela Giovine 22:14
Right. I know, in your industry in particular, there are places in which people tend to migrate from one salon to the other, you seem to have some longevity with your staff being that you have your original staff member with you today. Would you attributed that to starting them with your philosophy from the beginning?

Zanya Gissler 22:34
Absolutely. I think it’s because we find the right fit, and people that really like love our culture, and fit our culture, and then we provide them with an amazing education. So, you know, I think there’s a lot of loyalty there.

Filomena Cook 22:47
And and benefits. I mean, we’re unlike any other corporate entity, we have health benefits, vacation, 401k we have a lot a lot of-

Angela Giovine 22:56
Tell me about the decision to be able to offer all of those benefits to your employees.

Filomena Cook 23:01
I think if you want people to stay with you, you have to give them a reason. And we invested in them. And so we’re hoping that just by continuing to provide those benefits, that they’ll stay and they have. I mean, we have, I would tell you that the salon probably 50% of the staff in the salon, has been with us over 10 years.

Angela Giovine 23:21
That’s unheard of in your industry.

Filomena Cook 23:23
Very unheard of. And most salons don’t even last as long as we’ve lasted. It’s just as such a small minority.

Angela Giovine 23:28
Now was that an idea brought to the equation by both of you that you felt strongly about those things. Is that something that you, Filomena learned from working with other small businesses in terms of all of the benefits?

Filomena Cook 23:41
I brought that to the table, but Zanya already had the 401k.

Angela Giovine 23:44
Wow, even as a four chair salon there’s a 401K. That’s amazing.

Zanya Gissler 23:48
Yeah, I we had health insurance too for everybody yeah.

Filomena Cook 23:51

Angela Giovine 23:51
That’s truly amazing. I mean, there are so many businesses that don’t do that. To be able to do that from the beginning is truly amazing. I can see why someone might be here from the beginning. So the move from construction, into accounting and taxes into purely beauty wellness. Tell me about that, what’s different, what was a big change for you and what has stayed the same?

Filomena Cook 24:14
I’m going to start with my CPA life. I was always in a suit, with pumps and representing clients, either at attorney’s offices or the different tax offices. I was always out of the office, a lot of travel and then when I was in the construction field, I was in jeans, work boots and a hardhat. And I did whatever it took to keep that business going, whether it was I was traffic control for the day with a hardhat and a vest, or if I was reading blueprints, or if I was driving the pickup truck or the mini dump that we had, to go pick up blocks or stone and that business also we grew from four or five employees to 23 when we closed it in 2005.

Angela Giovine 24:58

Filomena Cook 24:58
It was different and I, I tease, and Zani teases me but I went through the Zanya car wash, I didn’t know I had curly hair, Zanya cut my hair, my hair automatically curled up. And now I really rarely wear it straight.

Angela Giovine 25:12
Right, infact I’m sitting in front of both of you are curly girls and actually myself, I’m also a curly girl. So that’s kind of funny.

Filomena Cook 25:21
And I never really did any type of spa experience. It was just not something I was into. And I also had two small children that I had been raising and that was my focus. I didn’t really take time out for myself. But I do think that this brought a totally different dimension to my life. I love having a facial, I love having massage. I think it’s important. I think people just keep going along their daily routine and think it’s okay, but I think sometimes it’s good to feel special and to be made to feel better.

Angela Giovine 25:56

Filomena Cook 25:56
It’s I think it’s necessary.

Angela Giovine 25:58
Yeah, that’s amazing.

Filomena Cook 25:59
And I wouldn’t have said to you 20 years ago. Because I didn’t

Angela Giovine 26:02
You didn’t know?

Filomena Cook 26:02
I didn’t have that experience. No, I it was a learning experience for me. Every day is a learning experience.

Angela Giovine 26:07
Right, right. So you go from this four chair salon, to how many square feet is this?

Filomena Cook 26:13
10,000 square feet.

Angela Giovine 26:14
10,000 square foot salon and spa, that was obviously a big risk for you. How many times I guess leading up to it or shortly after did you wonder did we bite off more than we can chew?

Filomena Cook 26:28
I will tell you that to be honest with you. I never really felt that way. When things were going well, it’s when we were always thrown that curveball. And here in New Jersey. We had floods literally right after we opened 2005 2006 2007 2000 whatever we had hurricane Irene. It’s every time we were affected, by outside conditions were the times when I would look at her and say what the heck are we doing here? I mean at one point for one of the hurricanes, we had been closed for almost three weeks. And when you have a huge payroll as much as ours is, I mean, if we had been closed probably another three or four days, we wouldn’t be here to tell you the story. But we had a lot of help, our suppliers, I made deals with all of our suppliers, everyone, including the staff, we were like, we’re going to work this here together, we’re going to figure it out. And we were lucky, everybody we just pulled together.

Angela Giovine 27:23
Let me ask you this. It was a big risk. But do you think, if you hadn’t taken the big risk that it could have happened more slowly or you needed to take that big risk for the big payoff?

Zanya Gissler 27:34
I actually had thought about like, interim step, but then I thought, that’s crazy because you know, it’s going to be years past and it’s going to be another move and another investment and I just did nothing.

Filomena Cook 27:46
So my comment is, go big or go home, and that’s how Zanya thinks, and so that’s why I’m more balanced. But but that’s there’s no interim for Zanya. Yes, I’m her I’m her interim.

Zanya Gissler 28:00
And you know funny because Fil said, you know, going from contractor and accountant, like you could just imagine like the type of thing- world that’s opened up to her going from working with construction workers, to hairdressers where, you know it’s-

Filomena Cook 28:13
Oh my.

Zanya Gissler 28:13
it’s crazy. And then I’ve dragged to the acessory show and the clothing shows and the gift show and I make her come, and I make her because she’s our our human calculator. So she not only helps us to figure out with we should bring this in or not. But then she stands here and she literally figures out in her head, like how much it’s going to be, how much is it and we’re like, okay, we get this. And how much we should order and what we should do. And it’s great. So we’re just a really good team because I’ll be thinking, let’s buy this and then shall be doing the camp the calculations in her head and then-

Filomena Cook 28:42
And it’s outside of budget. So we’re gonna stop at some point.

Zanya Gissler 28:45

Angela Giovine 28:46
That’s amazing. So after you took the space and took on the salon and spa, other times that you grew what were steps that you took to grow the business beyond moving into a new space? What were what were growth drivers for you?

Filomena Cook 28:58
It’s always new technology, if it’s the spa, especially the aesthetics department, we’re always looking at what’s the latest technology? What’s the best product? What can provide results.

Angela Giovine 29:11
Tell me about a time when maybe you took a risk that didn’t quite pan out the way you thought it was going to.

Zanya Gissler 29:18
We were approached numerous times by different people wanting to come in and be part of our business and that and and bring some of the business we didn’t have. And we did take someone up on that offer at a certain time. And what we did, was looking back on it, we realized we were way way too generous, and we didn’t really protect ourselves. So in the end game, we ended up helping that person, build their business within our business and then leave and while they were here, we were too generous in helping them to go on their feet, like we really didn’t reap the the results. The rewards of her results. Yeah, that we should have.

Angela Giovine 29:58
Was that a business that was a direct competitor to you? Or something complimentary?

Zanya Gissler 30:02
It was complimentary, but now they’re a direct competitor. So we basically helped

Filomena Cook 30:08
Create our own competition.

Zanya Gissler 30:09
Create our own competition.

Filomena Cook 30:10
And I will tell you that Zanya and I wasted, probably about a year to 18 months, we were approached by a hospital to put a spa in the hospital. And it was a lot of man hours because we had to outfit the space that they were giving us. And so that requires figuring out what we bringing in, how much staffing and it was similar to doing a business plan all over again, and

Angela Giovine 30:35
Essentially opening a second location.

Filomena Cook 30:37
That is correct. It is correct. And we finally after 18 months, we just looked at each other and we’re like, this is not going to happen. We need to be together in one location for the business to work properly. It was just another huge financial investment. And after they gave us what the terms we’re going to be of the lease, it took them, 18 months to give us what was the monthly expense going to be. And after by that time, I had done everything I was just waiting to plop that number.

Angela Giovine 30:52
And it wasn’t the number you expected it to be.

Filomena Cook 31:05
No, it ended up being a quarter of a million dollar loss the first year and that was outside of-

Angela Giovine 31:11
It’s a way more than you expected.

Filomena Cook 31:12
Yeah, absolutely way more.

Angela Giovine 31:14
Interesting, do you think in hindsight, they were maybe withholding that, till you were a little bit more invested?

Filomena Cook 31:20
Maybe, but I think they misjudged us.

Angela Giovine 31:23
Well, that’s a good thing. Right? You you-

Filomena Cook 31:24

Angela Giovine 31:25
That’s a great lesson in cutting your losses while you’re still ahead, right? Because you could have said, look, we were 18 months invested in this, we’re making this happen. What was the gut instinct there in cutting bait instead of-

Filomena Cook 31:39
I just don’t trust them. I mean it once you lose our trust, what’s going to happen? Because then, I had done some more research and I found out in the couple of years, there was going to be a change in how the classifications of the hospitals were going to be, and that things would change again in three years, so that’s when we decided rather than look outside of our area, let’s expand. Because we were originally 6000 square feet, let’s expand the location where we are right now and add the 4000 square feet, and that totally changed the way we do business because we added additional treatment rooms, we added in house laundry system, which is a $50,000 system, added a call center, we have now our corporate offices are downstairs, and we have the conference room that we’re in right now, where we have spa parties as well as private meetings. So this was the best thing that could have happened with that $250,000.

Angela Giovine 32:29
So that’s really interesting, because you took what was already a really profitable business and decided to make a single location even more profitable, beyond I mean, going to hospitals, obviously a little bit of a unique situation. But were you ever thinking let’s create a second location on our own, to get new clients.

Zanya Gissler 32:49
We’ve been approached a few times, about opening in other towns and everything. And you know, I know where I would go if I were to open a second location, but at this point in time, I just really have no interest in doing it. I just really feel like, what’s important to me is balance in life and I have a wonderful life I work enough, I have enough time off, I can sleep at night. I’m not suffering from anxiety, I haven’t burnt out. And I think that’s so important. You know, I’m just I worry about what a perfectionist I am, and how would I ever possibly have the kind of quality control if I wasn’t there and just knowing how difficult it is to get good staff members in this one location? Like that will be the biggest concern for me because really, your business is your team. That’s what makes your break sewers are the people you surround yourself with.

Angela Giovine 33:40
One of the most common complaints or struggles that I hear from small business owners is exactly that. Finding and retaining good people. When it is time to expand your team, how do you approach that? How do you look at that task? Do you use personal networks? Are there certain philosophies that you use?

Zanya Gissler 34:01
I think for us, the big push we’re doing this year is we’re really, really getting connected with and staying in relationship with all the cosmetology schools. And that is really where you’re going to recruit your best people. If you go in there and teach classes in the schools, or you have them come in and and have a class here, you mentor, we also are doing internships with some of the beauty schools, and so that’s great, because then we get to meet somebody firsthand. We just hired somebody that was doing an internship here actually, right?

Filomena Cook 34:26
That is correct. And it’s good for them to see who we are. I mean, you can look at us on the website. Once you walk through those doors, it’s a totally different situation. We really blow people away.

Angela Giovine 34:38
I’m sure it’s a chemistry fit in a lot of situations, making sure the person fits with the team, fits with you, fits just personality wise, philosophically.

Filomena Cook 34:47
Absolutely, and I would say we kiss a lot of frogs before we get the prince.

Zanya Gissler 34:52

Filomena Cook 34:52
I would, to be honest with you, maybe it’s one for every 10 to 15 and that’s okay with us. That’s fine. That’s what we want to do and that’s what we want to be. It’s the best.

Angela Giovine 35:02
It’s what’s expected.

Filomena Cook 35:03

Zanya Gissler 35:03
Not everyone’s going to make it here. It’s just the way it is. I mean, some people just aren’t bright enough, good enough to be here.

Angela Giovine 35:09
Are there times where you’re the one that has to say, look, it’s not working out as opposed to them leaving? It, you know, how do you make that and how do you make the decision when someone sort of like on the cusp to say, I don’t think this is going to work?

Filomena Cook 35:22
I would say that we give them fair warning. Nothing is a surprise. And we’re very lucky in the managers that we have, that work with us. That give employees feedback as to what the issue is, and kind of be corrected, what’s the game plan? What’s the action plan? What are we going to do here? But there have been times where it’s goodbye.

Zanya Gissler 35:42
A lot. I mean, I wouldn’t say a lot but I mean, we do a lot of coaching here, because we are a teaching salons so we do a lot of coaching. So people are coached, on their behavior on every level. So we will let them know if we feel the performance is not where we want it to be. And they get like we said fair warning, so.

Filomena Cook 36:00
And there’s expectations that are very clear. They all have specific broad bands and performance requirements, so it’s not a secret.

Angela Giovine 36:07
What happens more? Is it the personality slash client interaction, that becomes a problem? Or is it the technical skills of being a hairdresser that cause performance issues?

Zanya Gissler 36:20
I would say it’s really behavioral on their end like they’re either don’t have a strong work ethic, they’ll come to work and not really want to work. They’ll either be late a lot,

Filomena Cook 36:30
Call out without, notice.

Zanya Gissler 36:31
without notice, but primarily, I think it’s just not having good work ethic. And frankly, a lot of times, it’s the other staff members that weed out the people that that don’t aren’t going to make it here. Like, they’re tough. They’re tough because everybody that works here really treats this business like it’s theirs and they pride.

Filomena Cook 36:52
Oh, my God.

Zanya Gissler 36:52
They love it so much. They have so much pride. And they really, really, really want to be like the best and they want us to be like a five star resort hotel. I mean, that’s what their energy, how they come to work. They give it 100% every single day. So somebody comes on that’s given even 50% they’re

Filomena Cook 37:11
They’re gone. They complain, yes.

Angela Giovine 37:13
Demons reporting it. So how do you instill that in your team to have that kind of pride in in the business?

Filomena Cook 37:19
Well, we’re an open book, salon and spa. So that means every quarter, they know what their revenues are, they know what the expenses are, and they know what the bottom line is. There’s not-

Zanya Gissler 37:29
Yeah. we’re team base pay, we’re team base pay which means we’re not a commission salon. So basically, everyone’s on salary here. And the way they get raises is if we do better as a business, so that’s connected to the open book thing. So what happens is we set goals as a business, we look over performance as a business in certain ways, like how many of the new clients are retai-, are we retaining? How many of our existing are we retaining? How productive are we? All those kind of numbers, we look at. And we judge ourselves all the time. And if we’re not up to

Filomena Cook 38:04
On a daily basis.

Zanya Gissler 38:05
On a daily basis, we have huddles every day and we share the numbers with people, every single day.

Angela Giovine 38:09
What made you choose to run the business that way? And is that typical in the industry? How did you learn it?

Filomena Cook 38:15
Zanya was always a a salaried salon, which is less than 3% all of all the salons in the country. What it does promote is teamwork, cohesiveness, there’s not an argument as to whose client belongs to who. It’s the client belongs to Zanya Spa Salon. It’s not going to one particular person, we just want them to come back to any technician, not necessarily to the original one that cut their hair or did their facial, as long as they come back. It’s good.

Zanya Gissler 38:43
Just a lot more fun. It’s like being on a sports team every day. You know what I mean? Like, this is your goal, we’re going to make it. You know, and just really having everybody care like, like, you know, when someone’s going to win the Super Bowl, like they’re out there. Every single game counts. Every single practice counts. Every single thing counts at every single. It’s like, these are our goals, and everybody needs to pull their weight on this team, if we’re going to, you know, make it, to the Super Bowl this year. Seriously so that’s the energy we have here we have that every single day. And by sharing the numbers, people understand that their individual raises are connected to the overall wellness of the business. So there’s one big pot that all money goes into, and out of that pot, you have your expenses, and you have your salaries. The bigger that pot is, the more money everyone’s going to make. It’s not a me, I I I, it’s a we culture. So everybody is committed to

Filomena Cook 39:39
Making that client expe-

Zanya Gissler 39:41
Experience a 10. And let me tell you, if if someone’s busting their butt making that client experience at number 10 and they have somebody overhear who’s barely making it at 2, you better believe, they’re going to get on that person’s butt about that their performance, you know, because then it weighs on them. So as I was saying, a lot of times it’s this other staff members that weed people out.

Filomena Cook 40:00
Yeah, it’s easy makes it easy for us.

Zanya Gissler 40:01
We have to just say, we have just you know, show them the door.

Angela Giovine 40:04
Right, you are getting help in some of the most difficult parts of your business in the people management.

Zanya Gissler 40:10
Yeah, yeah

Angela Giovine 40:11
They’re they’re self managing.

Zanya Gissler 40:12
And then also too they’re really into training the new people so that they want to make sure that they know our systems backwards and forwards and that the quality of the service every client gets is is the same. And the only way that happens is if we have systems and people learn those systems so.

Angela Giovine 40:27
Do you believe that this also maybe cuts down on some of the quote on quote cattiness that you might hear of, along that comes along with the industry?

Filomena Cook 40:35

Zanya Gissler 40:35
Oh absolutely. You don’t ever hear it’s not my client, you don’t ever hear people getting upset if let’s say Mrs.Jones was in my chair today and then she’s in somebody else’s chair tomorrow, there’s none of that going on. And also too because people help each other, because the end result is a happy client. So if it means you’re running behind, you need somebody to help you blow dry the hair, someone’s going to jump in and say I’ll help you, not that’s not my client and go to the back and you know take a break. So it definitely cuts down to cattiness, absolutely. And we were competitors competitive issue don’t get me wrong.

Angela Giovine 41:05
Yeah. People that’s healthy, yes.

Zanya Gissler 41:07
But healthy competition, that’s not the negative competition. And from the very beginning, like I’ve just always been the kind of person where I cannot tolerate like mean girl attitudes and cattiness and I have taught people know that about me, and if that how you want to be, we have shown people the door for that reason. We have absolutely zero tolerance for that.

Angela Giovine 41:27
Now to this day, you still maintain a significant number of hours on the floor with your own clients right? What has really driven that decision?

Zanya Gissler 41:36
I really love doing hairstyle, and I’m doing it the right amount of hours a week. I’m not doing it more than I can bare at this point, I enjoy it every single day. And I love being out there with my team. You know, I just love it. You know usually what happens is that people that come through our training program I’ve teach haircutting to the newbies and really love that. And when they’re ready to fledge and get out of the nest and you know start doing hair, their first station is next to me. And then that way, I can listen in on their consultations with clients and I can see you know how they’re doing and sometimes give a little boost of confidence and a kick in the butt. You know kind of continue the mentor and coach them even as they’re on the floor. And I love that because I feel like, if you’re not out there on the floor, if you’re sitting at the back office you really don’t know what’s going on.

Angela Giovine 42:26
So let’s talk about change. Small businesses, there are many out there that change can be one of the biggest challenges for them because sometimes change is expensive or it’s risky or there’s just a theory of change. What has changed over time since you’ve started the business.

Filomena Cook 42:46
I think from experience that it’s staffing seems to be a little more difficult. To find qualified candidates and I’m not even talking about technicians, I’m even talking about front desk, coordinators or spa coordinators, it’s just a different time. They don’t have the same work ethic that I think people had 10 15 20 years ago, and that makes me a little sad. And sometimes I feel like we have to become parents. And I have 4 of my own already and I feel like I have sometimes another 58. But it’s it’s hard. It I think that’s what’s hard. I think w-

Zanya Gissler 43:22
Yeah and not to bash the whole generation because I don’t really want to do that but, I I can see there’s a lot of that going on but
I do think it’s a definite challenge for a lot of businesses today is is employment this new generation there.

Angela Giovine 43:33
Would you say that’s because you’re a traditional brick and mortar? People are looking for things that are online or virtual or is it something different?

Zanya Gissler 43:42
There’s something different. I think it has more to do with cellphone usage, people not getting off their cellphones at work, I think it has more to do with, the fact that a lot of this generation had helicopter parents so they don’t really know how to think for themselves, and they’re very happy to do something if you’d tell them what to do but they dont

Filomena Cook 43:59
They’re not self-starters.

Zanya Gissler 444:00
They’re not self-starters so you have to. And yeah at the same token what I love about this generation is they have a lot of respect for their elders, like they look up to older people as oppose to you know thinking that we’re not cool because we’re older. It’s fits that that part, I do like that.

Filomena Cook 44:15
I do. I think they they like being mentored. That’s what I’m finding that and I think that’s probably my greatest satisfaction, is saying people that started with us 14 15 years ago and because they’ve had a job with us, they were able to buy their first car. They bought a house. They’re getting married, their having children so being a finance person that’s what I love to see that there are taking what were doing and reusing it and I like that they stow us for advice and it’s a nice thing. I think that parents maybe have made it a little too easy too because at our age, we were already working at 14 15 years old. We had too. Our parents didn’t give us allowances or help with things like that and go pivot myself.

Zanya Gissler 44:57
And living on their own you know I think I think if you got to pay a rent, you’ll work really hard but if you’re living in your parents house, you’ll not work hard. So I think that’s part of that and I also think technology has been wonderful for our industry I think. There are so many great videos out there. I just sent a video to one of my apprentices last night that I saw from American salon where I was like, we’ve got to watch this video and choose my newest student in class, and I was able to just email it to her and it’s a great video it it focuses on some other point that she mimicking the last time I was I was teaching her, that was amazing and I just think that there’s so much more eductation out there for people that are already doing what we do. To help them to better that’s upside of it. The downside of it is alot of people think that they can be instant stars because of youtube and instagram, and they don’t want necessarily put the work in, and they don’t necassarily see the value of starting at a place like this or being in a place like this because they can just go off on their own and be on instagram, be famous tomorrow. You know so that’s, you know the double edge sword of technology.

Angela Giovine 46:00
That’s the technology set as it relates to employees. What about the technology as it relates to both technology that you use within the spa, and also how has technology changed consumers that paid your customers?

Filomena Cook 46:13
Well today’s consumers much more knowledgeable because of technology, the social media and the internet, you can just google anything and find information out. And so when they come to us, especially for aesthetics, they want to know what are we using, why are we using it, what it was it going to do, and is there something else they can do that maybe might speed the you know no wrinkles, quicker. Yeah, make them go away quicker so.

Zanya Gissler 46:41
I think it’s wonderful to be able to to book online, and that I think the next step for us hopefully will be that. We can have our place be more like a apple store with roving receptionist and you know not have to have somebody tied to a desk. I think that people being able to book their own appointments, is a great thing because people are busy they want to do everything on their phone, they don’t want to make phone calls anymore. So I think that technology end has been great and hopefully it will help us to save some money because if we have to have pure people on our front desk, answering phones or in the call center answering phones, that will save us some money.

Angela Giovine 47:17
So a world where the person who does your hair, maybe also just has to grab and iphone that is used as your cash register so to speak. Be able to check them out right in the chair?

Zanya Gissler 47:26
Well I don’t think they had us who would check them out but we’d have roving people.

Angela Giovine 47:30
That while they’re sitting there.

Zanya Gissler 47:32
Yeah, will come over and book the next appointment and then check them out.

Angela Giovine 47:36
what a great way to modernize you business. That’s that’s amazing.

Filomena Cook 47:39
We’re waiting for a technology to catch up with us.

Zanya Gissler 47:41

Filomena Cook 47:41
It’s supposedly ready soon.

Zanya Gissler 47:44
So our software supposedly is doing something like that but they keep postponing it over and over again, so. I’m really excited for it because I really think it could change the experience for the customer.

Angela Giovine 47:56
Have there been times like that before? Where you’ve had an idea that the industry wasn’t quite ready for and do you usually try to do it yourself anyway? Do you wait? How does that work?

Zanya Gissler 48:05
I I hate waiting so we have been looking into other software companies that already doing this and even thinking about changing softwares, because I’m tired of wai- I want it now. That’s how I am. I really-

Filomena Cook 48:15
No, yesterday she wanted it not now, yesterday. But it’s hard, we’re a big business. We have a over a thousand clients that are in the business on a weekly basis so, It’s to move all that data

Zanya Gissler 48:27
Yeah, that’s a promise.

Filomena Cook 48:28
We have history so we have a lot of history that we’ve refer to and a lot of products to put in the system so I’m hoping that this will, you know.

Angela Giovine 48:39
Recently, you’ve made a move in the products that you’ve chosen for your salon and for the salon and spa overall to be more hollistic in approach and philosophy, tell me about that move, what pushed you into that direction and how has it changed your business?

Filomena Cook 48:56
Well I think we were reading and hearing what customers were saying, they were looking for organic or healthy or non no I don’t want to say non toxic but

Zanya Gissler 49:08
Better, better freeyer

Filomena Cook 49:09
Better freeyer system. So, we did a lot of investigation, and we have a lot of staff help in that respect in terms of finding the products that would fit our business.

Zanya Gissler 49:21
I think you know I, have always been a maniac about eating organic food and clean food and healthy and I actually was a person that introduced Aveda to Bergdorf Goodman back in the 80s. And opened my salon as an Aveda concept salon in 1995 and at that time, that was the one product line that was committed to the environment, was the only one that was clean and it wasn’t organic but it was the most natural product line out there. And using essential oils and no chemicals also. So, we open this as an Aveda concept salon too. We moved over here. When we, once we introduced the spa, we had to kind of expand out of that because people want results. Women are not patient when it comes to that. So we had to get some product line that deliver results quicker, and also too you know that the thing about this industry you got to be able to change on a dime. I mean things go from one into the other so here we were, embracing organic and natural and clean,

Filomena Cook 50:20
Way before anyone else.

Zanya Gissler 50:21
And then just all went to medical. The medical profession came basically hijacker industry. I mean they really did. So now you’ve got always med spas opening up, women just want to get, med spa med spa med spa. They want pills, they want botox, they want all that stuff and you going to like stay up with all that stuff or you’re going to go down. I mean you- that’s the most challenging thing, the spa changes all the time. You have to be flexible, you have to be able to put money in, you have to be able in the spa industry.

Angela Giovine 50:51
It’s a a trend driven.

Filomena Cook 50:52
Oh, absolutely.

Zanya Gissler 50:53
Way more than so-

Filomena Cook 50:54
And you have to try to cut every tea leaves and and see okay what’s going to happen tomorrow? because you don’t want to change today and literally 48 hours from now change again.

Angela Giovine 51:02
And not only that but reading the tea leaves in terms of what’s fleeting and what might actually be good for you.

Filomena Cook 51:08

Angela Giovine 51:08
in the long term.

Filomena Cook 51:07

Zanya Gissler 51:09
And I think that’s a bigger challenge in the spa end. I think the salon you know, curly hairs end, straight hairs end, short hairs end bobs now are now in. You know bobs are the hot thing for fall. You know then

Filomena Cook 51:19
whether it hot cold

Zanya Gissler 51:20
are in or the’y’re not in. It’s just cutting someone’s hair. . You know I mean you don’t have to bring in a whole product line, you don’t have to get people trained in it, you don’t have to like when someone knows how to cut people’s hair, you know hair colors basically same way I mean the trend now is going to very very cool blondes, you know foilings pack it’s shifting away from balayage but my colorist already know how to do foils, we already know how to do that , we did that before. So it just cycles around. It’s not like the spa industry where there’s this crazy there’s new stuff all the time. So for me personally, I am thrilled that the industry is now shifting back to the more natural organic realm because that’s where my heart lies. And that’s what I believe and then that’s what makes me happy because on myself and what I feel best about selling people because I feel like I got into this business to touch people on a in a positive way and to make people feel better and look better and that to me is where my heart truly lies. So I’m thrilled that were going back on that track it was a very natural progression back for me, because I think that’s where we all should be going frankly.

Angela Giovine 52:25
I want to talk about the idea that it takes a village, who are people that each of you look up to both in the industry and just as role models in general and also, who are youR advisers, who do you go to for advice when when you need business advice?

Filomena Cook 52:43
So for me, I guess my role model for business would be my dad, he passed away 10 years ago, however he came from Italy when he was 14, went to Connecticut and worked as a construction worker. Came to New Jersey when he was 18 or 19 worked for his uncle, and then when he was 25 opened his own business with 2 other business partners. And he only had an 8th grade education, didn’t have any formal business training, however between the 3 of them, they figured it out how to be successful. Nothing was ever a challenge. He always just looked at it as I’m going to figure it out, I’m going to do it and he was never afraid of anything. He spoken broken English till the day he died but he was good at what he did. He loved people, people loved him. He was always honest, trustworthy and he did not hesitate to say the truth. He said it in a way that people understood why he was saying what he was saying. So for me, I admire him and I want I hope that I’m making him proud of my living my life that way.

Angela Giovine 53:52
He was untraditional Italian but yeah, you mentioned that he really empowered you as a woman, do you think he was a little bit ahead of his time?

Filomena Cook 54:00
Oh he I this he was truly ahead of his time. I mean when I said I was going to go to Rider to study accounting, at that time one in a hundred women were CPA, and he was like I don’t care, you can do it. And I did it. And he was very supportive of that. So it’s a good thing and the same thing happened on the construction field. I mean I finally towards the end of my career, I’m in a women’s industry. Which is totally different and unique and it brought a lot to my life.

Zanya Gissler 54:33
I would say that in the industry Cors Recumbacker who’s no longer with us. I still admire him the most. I think that he changed the world and made it a better place, really cared about the earth and was an amazing hairdesser on top of it and just really revolutionized the industry in so many incredible ways. People are still benefitting from his vision.

Angela Giovine 54:54
I imagine the two of you as partners lean on each other a lot when it comes to advise and hushing things out and working through problems. but I’m also sure there are times where you need to talk to somebody else. How do you get advice for your self both in terms of the business and maybe just like the way the business sits into your life. Who do you got to when you need someone to talk to?

Filomena Cook 55:17
So I go back to my former tax partner, Allen, because we’ve known each other since I was 16 years old. It’s a 40 year relationship so we’ve really don’t even have to talk either. He knows when I say something where it coming from, so he’s easy to talk to and he doesn’t hesitate to tell me the truth. If he thinks I’m not doing something or not thinking about it in the right way. So and I trust his opinion Zani and I have both talked to him together also about things that sometimes we’re not really sure of what we should do and just call him in for a quick conversation.

Angela Giovine 55:54
Arbitration? No just kidding

Filomena Cook 55:17
No, no

Angela Giovine 55:56
No I was kidding.

Filomena Cook 55:57
No, arbitration would be somebody else.

Zanya Gissler 56:01
I say I don’t really have anyone I talk to you about.

Angela Giovine 56:04
How do you handle the stresses for yourself? Are there ways that you decompress outside of the salon? As a fellow small business owner I know about the roller coaster and the ups and the downs. How do you even that out?

Zanya Gissler 56:18
I would have to say that I do I stick to Fil about the things that the business is stress me out and everything. I mean I think of that I go to her. She’s my closest friend really and she’s the person that- it’s very difficult, Fil’s fortunate that she has a Allen to talk to because family wise, she really has no one in her family and non of her friends understand because it’s very difficult when you own a business your issues are far above and I don’t mean to sound like I’m a snub they’re just that people can’t even grasp or understand it. So often times they’ll try to give me advice you know like No because they don’t understand the intricacies and yeah and the intricacies of everything. So for me, I usually turn to Fil because I know that I’m not going to have to explain every last thing that’s going on. And she helps a lot in that way and I really appreciate it because she’s in the thick of it too. She always hears me, like she won’t turn me away to say you know I can’t deal with it because you know I’m freaking out too.

Filomena Cook 57:16
And I think other people that don’t understand our business discount it like they’ll give a full of answer. And that’s great because believe me I’m one that can usually come to a quick solution, but if we’re struggling, that means there is no quick solution and so it’s my share of the burden. I can’t imagine doing this without having someone by my side. And I and this is this is Zanya’s forte I mean this is her industry. I’m lucky because I get to do number in a great industry now and I get to reap the benefits of being here every day. So I love it.

Angela Giovine 57:55
So what’s the most gratifying thing about what you do? And what’s also the hardest?

Filomena Cook 58:01
The harderst thing for me is sometimes to say no. I have to say no. Whether it’s you know we want to purchase something new or we want to do something I have to say no. But I’m saying it because I know where we stand, not that I want to say no, but at some point you can’t say yes to everything because if not, this would be a revolving door and we’d have, we’d be like hoarders with product in every single room, in every single drawer, in every single closet. So at some point, you have to say no. And the most gratifying thing, being in this atmosphere changes your head. Yes its stressful, but if you think about what we do, we’re providing health. I know people think a haircut might be healthy, but it is. I mean it’s just making yourself feel better because you know yourself once you have that great haircut or color’s great or you get that facial and you’re glowing. You feel good from the inside out. So it’s important. I think what we do is were trying to educate people to as to how they can improve their life.

Zanya Gissler 59:04
I agree.

Angela Giovine 59:04
I have 2 more questions, I want you each to answer. First, I would not be standing here today if not for blank.
Zanya Gissler 59:13
If not for my dad who always told me to reach for the moon and you might hit a star always like everytime we would be outside looking at the sky he would say that to me. He really really,he made me feel like I could do anything that I set my mind to. And never put limits.

Filomena Cook 59:30
I would say without the love and support of my husband and my family, my four children, because they are always looking to to support us in whatever we do.

Angela Giovine 59:42
And what’s one piece of advice that you would give your 18 year old self?

Zanya Gissler 59:47
Probably it would just be to just you know You’re okay, just do what you’re doing. And don’t don’t worry about what other people think or say.

Filomena Cook 59:57
I’m going to add to that because I am right there with her and I think it’s be confident and trust that you will land where you need to be.

Angela Giovine 1:00:05
Love it. Zanya, Filomena thank you so much for taking the time.

Filomena Cook 1:00:10
Thank you Angela.

Zanya Gissler 1:00:11
Thank you.

Angela Giovine 1:00:13
Thanks for listening. For more information about our show and our company, head to extra ordinary small business dot com. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook or Instagram. We would be so grateful, If you could help us reach more listeners. All you have to do, is go to iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts and rate, review and subscribe. It would mean the world to us. Ratings, reviews, and subscribes are how iTunes decides which podcasts are worth sharing. Help us continue to bring these stories of extraordinary small business owners to the world. By rating, reviewing and subscribing, you’re helping our small business. It’s free and it takes just a minute. Thanks!