Salon settles into niche in wellness industry

Courtney Martin had a path in mind early.

As a teenager at Churchville-Chili High School, Martin knew she wanted to one day open a salon and spa. When she was enrolled in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy while she was still in high school, Martin had a chance to finally set some of that ambition into motion.

Through the program, which teaches high school students how to establish a business and gives them mentoring and support to actually start one of their own, Martin dipped her toes into the industry. She came up with a company called Secret Services, one that allowed her to send in “secret shoppers” to help companies evaluate their services.

After getting paid to go to the spa, Martin was hooked. She attended Shear Ego International School of Beauty, and after graduating opened a location of her own, the Infiniti Salon.

Now 20, Martin has achieved her career goal, operating her own salon out of the Chili Fitness Center. Her salon offers hair cutting, coloring, pedicure and manicures as well as facial waxing. 

So far the business has grown rapidly, with Martin finding 150 new clients in just the few months since she opened in May. The location has been an essential part of that, she says.

“The gym has constant foot traffic, so it’s been great for me,” Martin says. “I’d say about 30 percent of the growth so far has been from the gym, and the rest has been through word of mouth and people connecting on social media.”

The atmosphere inside the gym is a perfect incubator for her salon, she says.

“I have a really good relationship with the owners of the gym and a really good relationship with the members,” Martin says. “It’s a real community gym, not a place like Planet Fitness where people are just there to work out and leave. Everyone talks to each other, and I’ve been able to build a lot of personal relationships with the members.”

Martin has always wanted to open her own business, and her role model at home helped push the idea. Her father, Frank Martin, is the owner and founder of Martin Construction.

“Growing up I saw him running his own business and making his own hours, basically calling all the shots,” she says. “It motivated me to want to do the same. So I combined my desire to want to own a business with my passion for hair and cosmetology.”

The experience in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy also was important, Martin says. After graduating from the program she went to work for the non-profit organization itself, and has taken a public role in promoting the programs and the success that graduates have found.

“That definitely instilled a lot of confidence in me, and it really gives students a ‘why not me’ kind of attitude,” Martin says. “Working with them has also given me a really good sense of the business world and helped to build my contacts. We would have so many different people come into our classes and share stories about their success, and I learned everything from writing business emails to going out and networking and shaking people’s hands.”

For now Martin is the sole employee of her company, but she has plans to grow. 

“My five-year plan is to own a gym and a salon and spa and have the two intertwined,” she says. “I want to have a real health and wellness center. People go to the gym and to the salon for the same reason—they want to look good and feel good and be healthy. I want to continue to grow and eventually get more employees and expand, maybe even open a couple of different locations.”

Small Business is a biweekly feature focusing on entrepreneurs. Send suggestions for future Small Business stories to Associate Editor Smriti Jacob at sjacob@rbj.net.

9/18/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.