By Aaron London The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) At the age of 50, which she called a "tipping point," Linda Booker decided it was time to take the plunge and open her own salon.
The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.
For some, becoming an entrepreneur is a revolutionary process: seizing on an idea and setting out to disrupt a market.
But for Linda Booker, the entrepreneurial impulse was more evolutionary. The owner of Steel Beauty Hair Spa in Palm Coast made the leap from employee to owner after more than 20 years in the business.
"It took me a while to come to that conclusion," she said. "You have to grow that confidence."
The process of gaining the confidence to strike out on her own was nurtured by her mother, who Booker said was her biggest influence.
"Every day we would talk and she would tell me that I have to open my own salon," Booker said. "She always encouraged me and told me how to push past my insecurities."
One of the issues weighing on her decision to open her own shop was her children.
"I have an oldest daughter that is special needs," Booker said.
That obstacle faded away when she found a former salon space adjacent to the Halifax Hospice Resale Shop in the Winn-Dixie plaza on State Road 100.
"My daughter works next door in the thrift store," Booker said. "For me, it gives me peace because I can pursue my goal of being a career woman and still not worry about being available to her."
Getting to that point, however, was not a straight path. Living and working in Georgia, Booker dreamed of finding a place close to the ocean.
"I love the beach and I was always saving up my money to take a vacation at the beach with my daughters," she said.
At the age of 50, which she called a "tipping point," Booker decided it was time to take the plunge.
"It was the perfect time for me to reset because I realized if I go much longer I would be hesitant to moving and to change," she said. "It just seemed like a natural progression."
Settling in Palm Coast, Booker worked at a local salon but still dreamed of owning her own shop.
After finding the right location, the next step was choosing a name. That turned out to be one of her easier tasks.
A fan of the movie "Steel Magnolias," Booker wanted to open a salon like one depicted in the film, where customers would come to spend time with friends, talk and share and also get their hair done.
"I wanted that feel in the shop. I wanted people to look forward to seeing their friends, to get their hair done, to share a story and get uplifted," she said. "I wanted this to be something they look forward to, not another commitment or another 'to-do' thing."
With another salon already called Steel Magnolias, Booker said she wanted something to evoke the strength of the women portrayed in the movie along with the idea of a place where customers could feel beautiful.
"So I came up with Steel Beauty," Booker said.
With a client base from her previous jobs and a hand-selected staff of three stylists and an aesthetician, Steel Beauty opened in May.
One of those loyal customers is Ann Richmond, who was in the shop last week getting her hair done for her upcoming wedding.
"Linda is wonderful," Richmond said. "I followed her over here."
Booker said a grand-opening celebration at the shop is planned for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
With five months under her belt, Booker said she feels ready to showcase the shop with the grand opening event and is prepared for whatever comes next.
"I feel like we're still going to have growing pains, but we are ready to present ourselves to the public," she said. "We're little and quaint but we're mighty."