It all started with an associate degree in merchandising from
FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology). Anderson spent a few years
working in large department stores, first as a buyer and then
in materials handling and trucking. One day, she decided to stop.
“My true love had always been cooking,” she explains. So she quit
her job at Macy’s and moved to Philadelphia to attend restaurant
school full time. After her marriage, though, night work in restaurants
became burdensome. It was time for another change.
She did not have to worry about her career future for long. A
friend owned a hair salon, and Anderson stepped in to handle its
huge retail section. Within six months, she found herself managing
the whole salon.
Realizing that management suited her, she went into business with
Stuart, a Scottish hair stylist she met by chance in New York.
From their original five-chair salon in Westchester, they moved
to a larger one in Manhattan two years ago.
Anderson believes that her salon, Anderson-French, performs an
important service. She asserts, “Everyone should look put together.”
By running a hair salon that also provides manicure and pedicure
and will soon have a waxing room as well, she hopes to help people
accomplish that goal. She tries to make it cost effective so as
to bring hairdressing back into vogue.
Owning a salon requires more than balancing prices. Anderson spends
her time interacting with customers, making sure everything in
the salon is running smoothly and keeping on schedule, corresponding
with magazines to keep people aware of current happenings in the
hair world, and above all, coordinating her international staff
in the coloring and styling departments and the creative team.
With the creative team, Anderson has begun planning biyearly runway-style
soirees revolving around Fashion Week in New York City. She also
arranges various classes to train her staff in special techniques
and to improve their speed. In particular, she finds that her
American stylists are often slower than their European counterparts,
partly because Europeans must undergo a more rigorous training
period to earn their licenses.
Her current activities keep her busy enough, but Anderson still
has far-reaching personal and career goals. She plans to take
evening classes this fall preparatory to getting a BA in business.
“You’re always learning, and I seem always to have learned on
the job,” she says, and goes on to describe the business education
opportunities she wants to give her employees. Within the next
ten years Anderson hopes to expand her training program, perhaps
enough to build a school. At the same time, she expects to open
four or five more salons within an hour from the City. Her other
professional dream is to create a café adjoining her salon where
customers can relax while they wait.
For now, she keeps the décor of her Manhattan salon friendly and
casual, with handmade cherry wood chairs where customers can sit
comfortably when paying at the antique desk. After all, despite
her dedication to her business, Anderson feels that “it doesn’t
have to be snooty. It’s hair; it’s not heart surgery.”