Local business owner Ansley Reese doesn’t care for or agree with the “bad rep” Millennials have.
“I feel like Millennials get a bad rep that isn’t really true,” she said. “We get told that we are lazy and that we want everything handed to us and things like that. Well, I am very motivated and a go-getter. That reputation actually has pushed me to be better and not fit that Millennial standard that everyone says we are.”
The Cleveland, Ga., native moved to Colorado after attending a friend’s wedding in Breckenridge.
“I literally fell in love with it and packed up my stuff and drove across country three days later,” Reese said.
She studied business and medical coding at North Georgia Technical College before getting her certificate in esthetics from the school.
“I liked the medical side of things like the terminology and research but I don’t like sick people,” Reese said. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, and then I kind of fell into esthetics. … The first day of school I was like, ‘This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.’”
About a year ago, she opened Ansley Marie’s Salon & Spa at 6418 N. Academy Blvd.
“I always knew from the first day of esthetics class that I was going to open up my own business and was finally just like, ‘I am going to do this,’” she said.
Reese spoke this week with the Business Journal about the challenges of opening and running a small business in the Springs.
Why open your own salon?
I was working in Denver at a spa for the first three years I lived here in Colorado and I really got burned out quickly because we were really busy. I was doing like seven to eight facials a day, so it took a toll on me and I kind of lost my love for it. I was like, ‘I don’t like this.’ I needed a transition. Then I became a sales rep for a beauty and supply company out of Denver and that transferred me here to Colorado Springs. It became my territory, along with several other areas, so I was driving around a lot and I still wasn’t feeling fulfilled. … I started looking for locations to open my own salon here and everything kind of fell into place. I found this location, which is perfect, so I was like, ‘I am taking that leap of faith and just going for it,’ and dove into it head first. I opened a year and three months ago.
Why Colorado Springs and not Denver?
I never really considered Denver. I liked it when I first moved there. I came from a small town so I thought I would like the big-city living and found out very quickly it is not me. The traffic and all of that is terrible. And with Colorado Springs, even though it’s a big, growing town, it still feels like a small town. I just love Colorado Springs, and I felt like this would be the best place for my business to thrive.
Would you call Colorado Springs business friendly?
Yes. I feel like so many people support local businesses here. They want to help you succeed. Everybody I have met through my networking groups — as soon as they know I am a local small business owner they immediately want to help. I feel like the people in this town realize that small businesses are really what keep our local economy going and help our community to be the best that it can be.
Talk about Ansley Marie’s Salon & Spa.
We do everything — a full-service salon and spa. We do all types of hair and skin services. I do all of the facials there. We do waxing from head to toe and all makeup applications. We do makeup lessons as well. We do basic nails like manicures and pedicures. I really want it to be known as a full-service salon and spa and I really wanted to make it where it was kind like a one-stop shop so you don’t have to drive multiple places to get everything you need done.
How is it different from other spas?
I’m really big on education. I think that’s really important because, how many times do people go to the hair salon or to get a facial and have no idea what they did? You can’t recreate your hair when you get home. It looked fantastic but now you have no idea what to do with it. I am really big on education and really making sure my staff is educating everyone who walks through the doors, telling customers this is what they are going to do when they get home — ‘This is what product you are going to use because it gives you volume.’ We spend time with our clients. We aren’t just turning them in and out of the chairs. We want there to be that education so they can recreate the look that we gave them. With my facials, I want to be able to tell people, ‘This is how you can take care of your skin at home,’ because they aren’t coming to see me every single day.
Any challenges since opening?
Our biggest challenge remains trying to continue to grow. This industry is very tough. We have a lot of competition — a lot of great competition here in the Springs. I knew that going in. We started from scratch and that has kind of been the toughest thing: just getting people in the door. We know if we can get them in the door we can keep them because we give exceptional service and that education. But people have their hairstylists that they love. They say, ‘I’ve been seeing my hairstylist for 20 years. I can never change.’ So it’s hard to attract those people, but that’s also why Colorado Springs is great: because we do have so much military coming and going. We are trying to target the military and their families so they can find a good home salon and spa that they can use.
Why participate in networking events?
I love all the networking events. I am a member of the [Business Network International] Strategic Alliances and that has been phenomenal. I have met some amazing business owners and friends in that group. All of the networking that I do around Colorado Springs I feel is so beneficial — especially when you are starting a new business — by just keeping your face and name out there. People really need to see you and know that you are still there. I still meet people who have no idea that my business even exists. I also love meeting people and getting to know about their businesses too. There are a lot of businesses around here that, until you meet the owner, you didn’t even realize it existed.
You were recently featured on a local news channel…
That was for Fox 21 News. Rodney [Gullatte] from [Firma] IT Solutions installed all of my cybersecurity for my credit card processing and stuff like that. [Fox 21] came in and wanted to talk to me about why I chose to have cybersecurity and what made me go that route. I talked about that and why cybersecurity is so important so that my clients know they are protected. When they use their credit cards here, they are protected. Being a small business owner, if something were to happen, I would be responsible and could go out of business. There would be no way that I could afford to pay for [a cyber attack]. I have a duty as a business owner to protect my clients and myself. These hackers are getting smarter every day, and they target small businesses because they know they are typically not protected.
What do you do in your spare time?
I work a lot but I love to write. I do a lot of writing and reading self-help books and motivational things. I am very big into keeping motivated. They say you have to stay very motivated when you own your own business. It’s easy to get down, so staying motivated on a daily basis with writing — that’s my outlet. I love to be creative in cooking too, and then, of course, hiking and everything you can do outdoors in beautiful Colorado Springs.
Any advice for other young professionals?
Don’t give up. That’s probably my biggest thing. Don’t stop; don’t give up. It’s usually an uphill battle but keep going; keep pushing because you will get to the top. And then it will all be worth it if it is something that you are really passionate about and dreamed about a long time. It will all work out if you just don’t give up.