New trend in beauty salons goes mobile

“Have Scissors, Will Travel,” should be Sharon Clark’s motto at her “Who Does Your Hair?” Beauty Salon.

Although she’s owner/operator of a full-service salon, Clark is convinced taking her hair styling talent to shut-ins and people who find it hard to get around in the winter is a new trend in beauty culture.

“I think there is a real need for it,” Clark said in a recent interview, “and I think it is an untapped market.”

CUTLINE: Sharon Clark shown at her Beauty Salon, “Who Does Your Hair.

Clark explains that she had a lot of elderly clients at the Oehrlein School of Cosmetology (from which she received her degree in 2001) and in her daughter’s salon “Make Me Pretty” in East Peoria where she worked for the first year and a half out of school.

“I had one lady who was blind and she could only come when her helper could bring her. So, I do think there is a real need for ‘in-home’ services,” Clark adds.

“I do mostly wash, cut and style, and I have done perms in homes,” says the effervescent Clark of her ‘out of shop’ forays. “I offer anything at home that I offer in the shop, other than coloring, which is tricky,” she says.

“If they are a new client and I haven’t worked with their hair, I don’t know what colors to take with me,” she explains. “You can guess on a perm rod or take several sizes with you.”

Her charges for ‘in-home’ services are the same as in the shop, but Clark charges an additional flat $15 travel fee if the job is within Peoria city limits.

Would she travel as far as Metamora for a job?

“Sure, I would, she nods without hesitation; but she would then also charge travel mileage fees (to be decided at that time).

This talented hair stylist is probably one of the best kept entrepreneurial secrets in Peoria, partly because her shop is in the alley behind AA Accounting on Prospect in the Heights where she has been located for the past four years.

The bright and cheery shop has a one-chair station and is located in half a renovated garage with her husband of 35 years, Mike, built for her behind their home at 3900 N. Vincent, Peoria Heights.

“I think one of the specialties at this shop is because it is only me,” Clark muses. “You walk into the shop and it is quiet and very relaxing. There are not 18 other hairstylists bustling around, and people seem to be telling me that they like this atmosphere.” Clark says that the shop is zoned for only a one-chair station and will remain that way.

In this quiet hide-a-way, she offers perms, coloring, straighteners, cuts, styles, and all of the basics, plus sugaring (facial hair removal). She does not, however, offer manicures or pedicures.

“My basic bread and butter is a haircut,” Clark says, whose biggest volume is in cuts and styles. “Also, a lot of stylists don’t like it, but I like to give a perm,” she adds.

Clark uses mostly Scruples products, along with Redken and Paul Mitchell lines, and deals with all ages from toddler to seniors.

The multi-talented Clark earned an LPN degree after high school and has functioned as a cake decorator in Lewiston and in Peoria, working at a Kroger bakery for six years. Clark took this career route because her husband had lost his sight and they needed insurance to cover medical expenses.

She and her husband, Mike, (who is now designated legally blind) lived in Lewistown for several years until the mines closed; moved to Metamora in 1989 where he worked for DMI and eventually had to quit when his eyesight failed. Their three children were grown by then and they decided to move to Peoria.

Clark says most of her career decisions have been made based on her husband and children’s needs.

“Mike has been a big, big part of what I’ve done,” she explains. “That is the reason we moved into Peoria because he needed public transportation” Clark says. “He doesn’t drive, and he doesn’t read well.”

Clark’s prices are extremely reasonable: wash and set, $12; adult hair shaping, $15; child shaping, $12; perms and foil highlights, $50 each.

“I don’t want to price myself out of the market and it seems to be working for me,” she says of her modest fees. “Because I am at home and I’m not traveling, dress can be a bit more casual. I’m walking ten steps and I’m at work,” she explains. Also, according to Clark, the real advantage is: “Mike can call me when he needs something.”

Salon hours are Tuesday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with later hours on Wednesday evening. The phone number is 685-2825. However, she adds, “I can be flexible; I will work a Saturday or whatever you need.”

Clark says, “I enjoy people,” and reiterates she wants the shop to be a success. “I want it to go,” she muses, “whether that will be ‘out of salon’ or ‘in.’ We have lots of fun out there. We talk kids, grandkids, marriage.”

Clark adds there are no rules in her shop: “It’s kind of homey. In fact,” she says, “I enjoy myself so much that it feels like the least amount that I’ve ever worked in my life.”

Marie Blood

3 comments for “New trend in beauty salons goes mobile

  1. candace neltner
    April 2, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    congrats sharon for finding happiness in your career.  I totally understand for i too have found pure joy in the industry of hair!!  everyday is such a gift and i feel so fortunate to be able to put my family first, still have a career and laugh and have a blast making new friends every day!!!!i agree our elderly will need help even more so in the years to come.  my concern is state board regulations.  maybe where your at it’s different, but in kentucky there may be some red tape.  good luck and congradulations!!

  2. pam Ridgway
    July 17, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Do you have a picture of the outside of your mobile salon? I would like to share with my cosmetology students. I teach in a public high school in Charleston, SC

  3. Dot McMillen
    July 1, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Sharon – I just found this article about your mobile salon and was wondering if you have any advice for someone wanting to do exactly what you described – take the services to people who can’t get out. I am wondering if you have an actual mobile salon or equipment you take with you to the location. Any information and/or pictures you could offer would be so greatly appreciated.

    God bless you and yours

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