Impressions Day Spa
Revenue: $2.2 million
When Kitty Tierney first launched her business, Impressions Day Spa in Mequon, she wanted to prove that hair "wasn't just something women do." She wanted to prove that beauty was real business.
"It used to be a job, a placeholder until a woman had kids," said Tierney. When people begin to look beauty as a career, "You position yourself differently."
Impressions Day Spa offers everything from standard cut and color services, to manicure and pedicures, spray tans, microdermabrasion and massage. In 2011, Impressions earned more than $2.2 million in revenue.
Tierney said the salon stands out from the competition because it is education driven. Employees frequently take classes to stay on top of trends.
The salon has been named one of the Top Salons in North America five times by Salon Today magazine, an impressive feat considering there are nearly a half-million salons operating in the country.
Tierney worked in a hair salon when she looking for a venture of her own. She says the road to entrepreneurialship was difficult.
"I was a divorced woman trying to get a loan," she said. "Nobody wanted to give me any money."
Eventually, a female banker went to bat for Tierney and secured a loan, albeit one that risked her home, her only asset at the time.
"I wasn't afraid because I knew we were going to be different," Tierney said. "It's like my grandpa used to say: The harder I work, the luckier I get."
That hard work and determination has helped Impressions stay open for more than 25 years. In 2009, the Mequon-Thiensville Chamber of Commerce named the salon Business of the Year.