It was a rainy day outside of Lucid Coffee Bar, as Ellie Schmitt pulled up in her Nissan Murano. I smiled as I read the large print on her back windshield: @ellieschmitthair. Salon One. (812) 473-2574.
I thought to myself, this girl has got it figured out.
I spent an hour with Ellie, as we solved all the world’s problems over iced americanos -- touching on topics ranging from family to business.
Ellie Schmitt is a beautiful, bright and talented entrepreneur that is in the business of helping people look and feel their best.
Ellie graduated from Castle High school two years ago with a 3.8 GPA. Originally planning on attending the University of Southern Indiana to pursue a degree in Nursing, she chose to attend the Salon Professional Academy instead to become a hair stylist.
Today, she is the owner of Salon One, managing a team of talented stylists -- all of which are older than her.
Did I mention she is only 20 years old?
“I would tell young people to save and save well -- half of everything you make, you should save. Ultimately, this is how I was able to be in the position I am today, through being persistent and consistent with my savings, day in and day out.
After graduating from high school, I continued to live at home, which allowed me to save up the money to eventually buy Salon One from my aunts and their friend Laurie, who had owned it for 26 years. I am really close with both my parents. My dad has taught me everything I know about business and finances, while my mother has always been this amazing support system.
When I decided to buy Salon One, I made a business plan and took it to my banker. I told him that I didn’t want my dad to cosign on the loan, I wanted the financial responsibility to be 100% on me. I made my down payment on the loan, and have been a business owner ever since December 30th.
My aunts created a great salon, but when I took over I wanted to look for ways I could improve upon what they had worked so hard to build. One change I made a year ago was implementing an online booking system, where our clients could receive text reminders for their appointments; which helped cut back on no-shows. I literally have had to manually enter over $40,000 worth of products in our system. I also converted the credit card system recently, which has been a huge undertaking.
In the next few months, we will be doing a renovation and adding 3 more stations. I am really going to push the Salon One team to grow over the next 2-3 years, I think we definitely have it in us.
I work to set Salon One apart from other salons through experience. People can get their hair cut anywhere, but it’s about the experience you provide your clients that set your salon apart. I always try to make my clients feel good and comfortable. I am big on giving compliments and doing everything I can to show them how much I care.
After I cut and style a client's hair, I will a lot of times take a note or two on something they said during their appointment. That way for the next appointment I will be able to check in and see how they are doing.
I have girls that sit down and say, you are my therapy session. It’s comments like those that make me realize I am having more impact than just styling hair.
With that said, being a business owner is not all rainbows and butterflies, recently I have worked close to 60 hour weeks including between hair and actually running the business, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It has been such a rewarding experience.”
At the end of Ellie and I’s discussion, I felt inspired by her confidence and the deep level of commitment she had towards her business, clients, and stylists. At 20 years old, she was one of the most impressive entrepreneurs I had ever met.
I had to ask her, “Ellie, how at such a young age, did you have the confidence to take the path less traveled by? I mean, you’re 20 years old and own a salon.”
She paused for a moment as she smiled a smile that lit up the room and shrugged, “... When I say I am going to do something, I will do it.”
1. What is a daily routine that keeps you on your “A” game?
I am a planner and like to follow a plan throughout the day. So, I always start out my mornings looking at my schedule and what I need to get done. I go over in my head what I want to do during my gaps between client appointments, normally this is business related stuff.
2. What book do you most often gift to other people?
Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. This is an amazing book for people that are about to make a change in their life. I actually just read it the other day, since I am making this transition into being a business owner.
3. What is your vice/guilty pleasure?
I am definitely OCD. I tend to be obsessive in all aspects of my life. Every night after I am finished with work, I write down all my numbers for the day. If I am off by a $1, I will stay after for nearly an hour until I figure out why my numbers aren’t adding up. I need to work on letting some of the small stuff go.
4. What is your superpower?
I love to crunch numbers. That is my thing. Of course hair, I love doing hair. But crunching numbers and saving money is something I love to do, and it is a big reason I have been able to purchase Salon One.
5. If you could have a billboard at the busiest intersection in the world, what would it say?
Be The Experience.