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February 2, 2009

Former ULM student/artist “draws” on resources at LSBDC

Jenny Sharp, owner of Gypsy Salon in Sterlington, found an outlet for her artistic talent in the most unusual place – a hair salon. The former University of Louisiana at Monroe student “always wanted to be an artist."

Sharp returned to the ULM campus recently – only this time it wasn’t just a passion for art, but an interest in business, that drew her back.

“My mother-in-law, who owns the Playhowse Learning Center in Sterlington, recommended I visit the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at ULM, since LSBDC helped her start her childcare center,” said Sharp.

Sharp had come to realize that hair design might be a financially feasible outlet for her artistic abilities, so she enrolled in the Aveda Institute, an 18-month hair design program run by the renowned hair care company. She envisioned starting her own hair salon, which would appeal to an eclectic crowd who favored edgy hair designs in a funky art gallery environment.

With LSBDC consultant Marcelo Moncayo by her side, Sharp developed a business plan and a loan package, which helped her to secure a $50,000 commercial bank loan to cover the cost of equipment and working capital. Moncayo also provided Sharp with marketing research.

Sharp opened Gypsy Salon last year in the Sterlington area. The salon attracts an interesting mix of hip high school kids and soccer moms. Customers tout Sharp’s artistic eye and the fun and energizing environment.

The salon combines cutting-edge hair design with a bohemian/tattoo parlor/art gallery ambience. Sharp’s avant-garde sensibilities are displayed on every wall and table, which are decorated with artwork from amateur artists throughout the area.

“I wanted my hair salon to reflect my love of art and to provide a place for amateur artists to show their works,” said Sharp. “There really isn’t a means for amateur artists to display and sell their work in Northeast Louisiana.”

Moncayo’s belief in the business concept of combining Sharp’s twin passions for art and hair gave Sharp the extra confidence she needed to proceed with her plan.

“He really knew what he was doing, from making sure my business plan would work to helping me with a loan package. I’m so glad I went to LSBDC at ULM for assistance,” said Sharp.

Perhaps the greatest reason for Sharp’s success is that it is much more than a place to run a business. “Gypsy is my sanctuary. It’s where I do hair and paint. I can’t thank the LSBDC enough for helping me combine all my passions to create a livelihood for my family,” said Sharp.

According to an independent ASBDC Economic Impact Study, LSBDC clients experience a 25 percent greater sales increase and an 11 percent greater employment rate as compared to the average Louisiana business. LSBDC at ULM offers confidential business consulting at no cost to small business owners to help them start, grow, and expand their businesses. The center also provides low-cost entrepreneurial training.

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