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Colleen Lefave, is a trend-setter! She is bringing an awesome new concept to the Rochester-area- salon scene! Prime Salons and Spa Suites recently opened in the Cornhill area. This is a new cooperative business where salon owners and other entrepreneurs can be a part of a bigger concept.
This business-model is used in franchises across the nation. When Colleen first pitched this idea in Rochester, it was difficult for others to visualize the modern concept. Business owners come together as part of a team as they are located inside of a suite, but still maintain their autonomy by having their own individual space.Colleen Lefave, is a trend-setter! She is bringing an awesome new concept to the Rochester-area- salon scene! Prime Salons and Spa Suites recently opened in the Cornhill area. This is a new cooperative business where salon owners and other entrepreneurs can be a part of a bigger concept. This business-model is used in franchises across the nation. When Colleen first pitched this idea in Rochester, it was difficult for others to visualize the modern concept. Business owners come together as part of a team as they are located inside of a suite, but still maintain their autonomy by having their own individual space.
Colleen and her husband Mitch brought this innovative idea to reality. They took what was a 3500 square foot doctor’s office and turned it into this awesome, eclectic community of business owners. Each suite in the community is suited to cater to the individual business coming in. The suites range from 120 square feet to 320 square feet. Each area comes with a custom look which is picked out by the suite owner. The great bonus is that everything is included in the rent; water, electric, WIFI, security and the build out of the suite. The great part of it all is the price is around what a stylist would pay for a rental in a salon. This concept allows the suite owner to be an entrepreneur, without the risk of owning a salon. You get your cake and eat it too!
Colleen and her husband, Mitch were married at 22-years-old. They had two children, Caden and Kyla; who are now 16 and 14. As a young woman, Colleen was focused on learning to be a young bride and mother. She was finding her rainbow! She started out at Continental School of Beauty for Esthetics and started off right away working in a salon. Colleen met some interesting people early in her career, who were a part of the artistic team at Sebastian Trucco make-up.
Colleen indicates this is where her journey really began. She began travelling the world creating make-up looks for national chains and imagery. She was with Wella/Sebastian for years. She then became a sales rep for Beauty Systems Group (Cosmoproof) and Redken 5th Avenue. Throughout her career, Colleen studied the ins-and-outs of running a salon. Like everything else in the technological world, we live in, the salon industry is no different. It is ever-changing.
Colleen did not ignore to be successful, gaining an education was important. She continued on with her studies, becoming more self-sufficient and earning her associates and bachelor’s degree in business. She enjoys volunteering. Most importantly, she doesn’t forget above all, she is a mother. This means being involved in her children’s activities. As a mom, she is heavily involved in the Finger Lakes Youth Football and Cheerleading organizations, the Canandaigua Youth Baseball and any other activities her children participate in. Colleen says learning from children is an interesting part of her life. She feels the most important lesson she’s learned is being humble as an adult. She often wonders “When did things get so serious?”
RWO asked Colleen, “What is the most memorable part of your career?”
She replied saying, “The most memorable part of my career is the people I met along the way. I can say, I can travel almost anywhere in the world and I have a friend there. The best part of all this is I have the beauty to come home to an amazing husband and kids. Having great support at home, is what allows me to be so successful.
I believe today, to be successful, people must find inspiration from many sources. My parents inspire me. They taught and instilled the value of hard work and what it can do for you. My brother David taught me when he enlisted in the Navy, how to take chances and to do what you believe in. My husband Mitch inspires me daily, by letting me have my crazy moments and by celebrating what we achieve a little at a time, step-by-step. He helps by moving things out of my way, so I can focus on the tasks-at-hand and being creative. My children are the busiest people I know. I am amazed at how they keep their grades up and still are so active with sports and maintaining close friendships. They travel all over in competitions and tournaments all over the country.
My friend Carrie inspires me to keep going when things get tough. She knows when to make me laugh, so I can refocus and balance myself to make better decisions. My friend Rebecca’s advice is always on point and she has already done so many great things that I want to emulate. Her constant smile when I know her mind is racing, shows me that kindness and a great attitude helps balance everything. Her advice runs through my mind, when I’m faced with tough decisions or a speedbump gets in my way”.
RWO asked Colleen “what obstacles have you faced as a female entrepreneur?
She replied, “Obstacles smostacles. I used to let them drag me down and take much of my time. Then my husband started calling them speed bumps. And you know what?? That is what they are. Now I slow down, go over them with care and MOVE THE F ON. I think sometimes we dwell. We create drama where there is none. We talk to more people then we need to about a speed bump or challenge we face and it gets blown out of proportion.
We must solve all the speed bumps coming after the one you are dealing with and maybe even try to go a different route or turn around. Sometimes, we don’t even have to deal with it. Now when a speed bump gets in my way, I slow down a bit. I then look at the bigger picture. Then, I do something to give my brain a break from thinking about it. Sooner-rather than later, BAM there is the answer.
In having success, there will be speed bumps. The speed bumps are small in comparison to even my smallest successes along the way. Who knew passing a building inspection would create great joy in my life. Or when I started showing the suites, having someone say they want a suite would cause me to create a happy dance of “people get it and love it also!”’
I cannot put in words what the feeling is inside your body when you create something and then realize other people like it also and see your vision. Seeing and hearing the Suite Pros love their space is worth all the speed bumps”.
Colleen continues, “I don’t know if being a female in business has helped or hindered me. I feel in general I must work harder than anyone else period. This is my work ethic. My Dad taught me to never let anyone out work you. Do work that you love. Do work you believe in. Be a constant student.
As a female, I love learning how other females have become successful. How do they balance everything? This is a true female quality I believe. Nothing against men or single Dads because I have a Dad also. However, a woman knows how to juggle unlike any magician or juggler can. Forget juggling, flame-throwers or knives. Try juggling kids, kid’s schedules, meals, laundry, housework, career, sleep, personal time, need I say more?
And I see women doing it more and more. Working for myself, I learned so much about women in business. There are many resources for women entrepreneurs. I am continually learning about. I think the most under used resource is being there for each other. Women tend to help each other or hurt each other. I would love to see women help each other more. State and local websites are a huge resource for information.
When I see young women starting out, I always want to tell them a few things.
1) Work. If you aren’t the best…outwork them. Put your blinders on and go forward.
2) Laugh. Seriously it is the best medicine. Laugh at the speedbumps. Those get more and more funny. Laugh at your mistakes. You will make plenty. Laugh at yourself. No better laughing material then yourself. If you laugh at yourself, then no one can hurt you with words.
3) Reach out for help. No matter what your business is you need help. A sounding board for your ideas. A person that balances you when things get crazy. Someone you trust to help make a decision. Someone to read over your ad creation or marketing plan. Even people that aren’t in your business are great resources. Sometimes those are the best.
4) Put your blinders on again. You know, those funky glasses that race horses wear. People and things will come after you from all directions. Focus on your idea, your plan, your vision. Don’t get derailed. Come up for water and air and then get right back at it. Success will happen…it may be far away, but when you stop to dwell on speedbumps or make them into mountains success gets further and further away”.
Colleen Lefave is an innovation inspiring woman. She plans to expand her Prime Suites and has office space available. She plans to change the game in the salon industry over the next five years. She tells us to stay tuned for the ride! RWO is also one of the suite owners in the 301 Exchange Street property so make sure you join us at our “Grand Opening” April 19th!