Today we’d like to introduce you to Teresa Sullinger and Tori Wakefield.
Teresa and Tori, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
We met working at a small, neighborhood salon in Andersonville 13 years ago and discovered we both had the passion to open a salon. With a business model in mind, the desire to create a comfortable neighborhood salon that show cases local artists, we called a real estate agent and began looking at properties. We looked at quite a few store fronts and quickly learned we would have to do a build out, thus costing more money. We found property in Andersonville that would be perfect, but needed to know if it was zoned to be a hair salon. Tori went to the Alderman’s office and was informed by the Chief Assistant that the property was zoned properly to be a hair salon. He also mentioned that there was a hair salon on Damen and Leland where the owner wanted to sell her business. Why not call her? It was a salon that needed cosmetic work instead of costly construction.
Life is funny. Tori and I would drive down Damen Avenue in the Lincoln Square/Ravenswood area, and think, “This is such a cute neighborhood. Next to the Damen Brown Line stop, the Lawrence Bus Stop, plenty of street parking. It would be perfect location to create our salon. “
We opened our salon Monday, December 1, 2008, in the height of the recession. Would our clients follow? Was this a mistake? It was not. We brought our good friend and fellow stylist, Mary Simpson with us when we opened. We had worked together for 6 and a half years, each having a full clientele. Approximately 95% of our clients followed us to our new salon home. For many, it was closer to where they lived or worked.
We have an amazing clientele. We have an amazing team of people working with us. T. Salon and Gallery. It is more than just a place of business, it’s a family.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
This journey has been smooth for the most part. We have the same work philosophy and work ethic. There is a perfect division of labor and we know each other will take care of tasks in a timely manner. Starting your own business can be stressful but working together has allowed us to share the burden and work to our strengths.
Last September, Teresa had emergency gallbladder surgery. Turns out there were no gallstones, but adenocarcinoma (gallbladder cancer). The cancer jumped to her liver, which 10 inches was resected and four lymph mph nodes removed. The treatment protocol had involved 12 weeks of chemo, scans and five weeks of chemo and radiation. Unable to see clients herself, each of the stylists have absorbed Teresa’s clients into their schedule as well as see their own clients. The receptionists have been amazing at rescheduling clients as well.
Although it was a scary time, our team has pulled together and it has made us even closer; if that is even possible. We take care of each other and our clients, even when things are tough.
Please tell us about T. Salon and Gallery.
We are a full service hair salon dedicated to consistently providing high customer satisfaction by rendering excellent service, quality products, and furnishing an enjoyable atmosphere. We will also maintain a friendly, fair and creative work environment, which represents diversity, ideas and hard work.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Teresa: I have two younger brothers. We are 1 1/2 years apart and have a half-brother 13 years younger than me, the oldest. Growing up, we lived in a condominium complex with a swimming pool. When our half-brother was a baby, we would take him to the pool and strap those bright orange water wings on him. Then, two of us would stay in the deep end, the third would take our half-brother and drop him off the diving board into the deep end of the pool. He had two siblings there waiting for him, in case anything happened. When he could walk, we would make sure he safely made it up the diving board ladder and have him jump in on his own. He loves water! Nothing ever happened.
Tori: When I was about 5 years old, I started having urges to cut hair. I trimmed all of my dolls and even some of my stuffed animals. One day, I decided that my first “real” client should be my baby sister, Tycee. She was 3 years younger than me and I just knew that she would love a haircut from her big sis. I got the dullest pair of scissors from the junk drawer in the kitchen to create my masterpiece. I took the scissors to our playroom and invited my sister to come and play. I told my mom that we were going to play school. As soon as my mom left the room, I gave Tycee a book to look at and I began cut. One snip, then two. I can still remember the sound that the scissors made as I cut through her silky baby hair. After about 6 swipes, her perfect cut was complete. Big chunks of hair were all over the place. Full of pride, I called my mom to gaze upon my work of art. When she came into the room, she was anything but pleased. After a long discussion, I began to see how cutting Tycee’s hair was not a good thing. Needless to say, I didn’t let that first critique deter me. I cut her hair 3 more times. I tell my sister that as my first client, she was an important part of me becoming a stylist. As amazing as those first cuts were, I have to say that my hair cuts are a better today.
- Men’s Haircut starting at $45
- Women’s Haircut starting at $60
- Young Adults (age 13-18) Haircut starting at $40
- Children’s (to age 12) Haircut starting at $25
- Single Process Color starting at $75
- Color (full Head) starting at $85
- Hi-Lite Partial starting at $85
- Hi-Lite Full starting at $100
- Address: 4705 North Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625
- Website: www.tsalonandgallery.com
- Phone: 773-728-2470
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: T. Salon and Gallery
Teresa Sullinger, Annie Albarran and Farrah Healy