New shop owner hopes to ride out recession

On the corner of Gaines Street and Railroad Avenue sits Take One Hair Studio.

Less than a year old, the hair salon has developed a strong following. 

The owner and head stylist, Bessie Lewis says she’s got an “old name [but] new style.”

Originally from Albany, Ga. Lewis has lived in Tallahassee for nine years and calls it home.

She has been a cosmetologist for fourteen years, and before taking the leap to open up her own store she managed at Clippers.

Lewis was looking for a change, and a new challenge. “I wanted to give a different environment for my clients,” said Lewis.

Take One opened last June, after years of preparation and planning.

The salon offers two stylists and one barber. Although it was easy to find employees, it has been tougher to bring in customers.

Lewis said she relies heavily on word of mouth.

“Most of our clients come from styles that we’ve sent out, references, or just passing by,” said Lewis. This is the partially why Lewis chose the high visibility on Gaines.

She also loves the area because the local business owners around her are very welcoming, and they get along well.

It’s also conveniently located between Florida A&M University and Florida State University, and it is this assorted patronage that adds to the character of the space.

“We have a diverse clientele, we have Florida State, FAMU, state workers, and local people around Tallahassee.”

Lewis said it takes someone with vision and a lot of hard work to open a business on the eve of a recession. According to the United States Department of Commerce two-thirds of new employer establishments survive at least two years, 44 percent survive at least four years, and 31 percent survive at least seven years, according to a recent study.

Take One did not open to a booming start however, Lewis said, “it’s still been an exciting experience, it’s been slow but it’s successful, very successful.”

Lewis is the mother of four and cutting and styling hair is her family’s source of income.
Her fiancé is also a barber.”

In college, students find creative ways to get their hair done, while saving money, and Lisa Neptune has found a way to save time and money.   

“I don’t go to hair salons that often because my cousin does my hair,” said Neptune, 20, a second-year biology student from Miami, Florida.

Lewis thinks the drop in salon patrons is partially due to the rise in weave sales.

“I’ve noticed more commercial styles being done, due to its a lot more easy maintenance with the weave because you don’t have to come back as regular. A lot of them have been using extensions and the weave.”

Lewis wants her small business to grow into a long-term family owned business in the future.

Lewis’ five-year plan is not much different from how she sees the store today.

“I see it being a very convenient local store that will be used a lot by Florida State and FAMU students also state workers. Hopefully with the new construction going up, they have a lot of new projects and with that I hope to grow.”