With nearly two decades of experience in the beauty industry, Nina Tulio founded Anthony Ashley Hair Design LLC (www.anthonyashleyhd.com) in 2006. Since then, she has grown her business from a 500-square-foot one-person salon to a 1,600-square-foot full-service salon with four full-time team members in Allentown’s West End.
What’s your take on the local economy?
I believe the economy is definitely on the upswing. From my perspective, I feel consumers are a little more comfortable spending or investing their money in local service-based businesses. Many of the business owners that I network with are more confident investing in jobs, marketing and overall growth.
In addition, there are many wonderful things economically going on within the Lehigh Valley that will create more jobs and more traffic for local businesses, such as the new Phantoms hockey arena [in Allentown] and the 19th Street Theatre District in the West End of Allentown, where we are located. I believe these efforts will help create interest for consumers to come to the area, which will subsequently benefit local businesses.
What issues are you most concerned about?
Because of the economic downfall in the past few years, it seems like … business [people] … are hesitant to invest in their dream of owning their own company. There are several buildings in my area that have been vacant for some time. With small-business loans being harder to receive, grants being cut back and investors being hesitant to take the risk in investing, the growth within the community may be much slower than we would like.
What would you do to improve your business?
Besides continuous marketing, advertising and building solid relationships through networking, my main focus is to continue investing in my team. Every year, I have increased my budget toward education and training to ensure my team is always on trend but more importantly, they can share their knowledge with every client.
In addition, the more time I spend coaching and empowering my team, they will be able to provide top-notch service to our clients. When our clients feel they are taken care of, they will trust us more and continue to come to us for years to come.
What advice would you give to someone who runs a small business?
My advice is simple. Work hard, stay humble, be kind and pay it forward. Even if it’s your 10th year in business, always operate your business as if it’s the first week you opened. Remember how hard it was in the beginning and keep it close; treat each customer as if it were their first time with you, and appreciate each and every single day you open your door!
Editor’s note: On the Front Line appears periodically and offers insight on running a small business in the region. If you have a suggestion for a subject for “On the Front Line,” please email Bill Kline at email@example.com.