Independence and Reinventing Yourself: An Interview with a Small Business Owner

Sometimes there is a decisive  moment when you know you need change in your life. Perhaps the place where you are in life doesn’t fulfill you or maybe you want to do something completely different.  To dream is one thing, but to actually take the  step and change your life and follow a dream takes both imagination and bravery.

I recently interviewed Nicole DeMarco of Hair and Makeup by Nicole. She owns her own salon and also does hair and makeup on-site for weddings.  She now runs her own successful business, but she started from the basics; shampooing hair.Nicole Murray

Here is her story about why she decided to start her own business, how she markets herself and how she manages the task of being a mother, wife and small business owner


When and why did you decide to start your own business?

One day I just felt it was time! It started in 2008. I felt stuck at the previous salon I managed.  I was pregnant and needed a change of environment . I always wanted to be my own boss  and have job security.

As I went  on maternity leave  I expanded on my vision. I needed to have my own schedule,  financial independence and fulfill my dreams.  Right before my daughter was born in 2009, I teamed up with a stylist who I knew since I started shampooing hair and we became  business partners . We currently share a salon in Bellmore  on Long Island.

I’m constantly reinventing myself, being forced to learn new things  and creating a brand . Its a great feeling when you build something successful!


How do you market yourself?

I do all the marketing myself and I have learned along the way.

Mostly references and referrals.  Along with social media. I have my own website. And I use Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram.  

The only “traditional”  advertising I do is with The Knot Wedding Network.Nicole

It provides newly engaged couples information  on local vendors, which keeps me busy with glamming up brides’ hair and make up for their special day. I work hard to capture each bride’s personality and unique style.

I started in the industry fifteen years ago and  established relationships with  clients. I always express to them that  the best compliment they can give is telling their friends and family about me.


What do you feel is the best way to reach your costumers?

Social media has greatly improved business  over the last few years. I did create a business page for Facebook as well as an Instagram.

However, I  feel the best way to reach customers are by the client re-booking before they leave the salon. It’s about exceeding their expectations so they become loyal customers. Customer loyalty and client retention are very important to me.


Have you tried something in marketing that didn’t work? If you did, what was it?

Years ago, I have tried direct mailings and  local paper advertising. I found it to be costly and a  waste since there was  a low retention rate. Most of the time people throw it away or  it would get lost in the mail . And some people would salon hop just for a deal and not actually be in your chair to build a relationship.


What is your best advice to someone who wants start in the business?

Be healthy, and of course have capital.

Focus on what your dreams, are but be realistic.

Build strengths and talents to succeed. I constantly take classes to keep up with trends and learn new techniques.


Surround yourself with advisers and mentors to help you become a better leader.

Manage your cash flow efficiently .

Learn from your mistakes.

Don’t have a super ego.


I know you have family and children. I can imagine it being stressful at times. So how do you manage your time?

It’s definitely a challenge at times.  Being  a wife, mother and a sole proprietor are all full time jobs.

I have learned to delegate tasks around my house and outsource some tasks such as hire someone to clean the house in busy seasons, mow  the lawn and have reliable babysitters. Having a  hands-on husband is extremely helpful! Nicole Murray and family

As the kids’ school schedule changes and activities arise, I do my best to reevaluate my work schedule to meet family needs.

I am currently working on making health and well-being a priority. Working out, massages, coffee  dates, and vacations with my family help rejuvenate me as a business owner.


What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is having a someone leave my chair with a huge smile. I love pleasing people and helping them gain confidence.  There are very few jobs where you can get tenfold satisfaction  all in one day.

Nicole Murray in action


Can you tell me about a few lessons you learned through the years as a business? Some mistakes you wouldn’t make again, or things you tried that worked really well.

I’ve definitely learned that you cannot please everyone. You have to put on a happy face even if you are not feeling like it. Have to try to keep your cool if you get that client who doesn’t like their hair and complains. It’s not easy having to deal with negative feedback . Thankfully and hopefully that doesn’t happen often.


We’d like to thank Nicole for sharing her story with us. If you can relate, comment below and don’t forget to share!


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