Adapt, improvise, and overcome.

As a child, Mary Alice Latta, hairstylist at Glam Salon in tiny Hillsborough, NC, heard these words constantly from her father.

“Since the day I was born, my dad always told me, ‘Life is going to throw you curveballs,’” says Mary Alice, “‘and it’s up to you to adapt, improvise, and overcome.’”

Mary Alice’s upbringing instilled in her the virtues of grit, innovation, and entrepreneurship, which have helped her throughout her career and especially today amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Jessica Batts, owner of Glam Salon, and Mary Alice are longtime friends who both started their stylist careers in 2008 during one of the worst recessions in American history.

“We both know what it takes to survive even in times of economic hardship,” says Mary Alice. “We both know the hard work and determination that it takes to get here.”

Jessica and Mary Alice opened the salon together nearly seven years ago. Since then, they have built a loyal client base throughout Hillsborough and surrounding areas. There aren’t many salons that can boast a perfect 5.0 rating on Facebook with over 50 reviews … but Glam Salon is one of them.

“We have a really incredible community,” Mary Alice says.

She’s had to tap into her natural flair for entrepreneurship recently, as North Carolina has mandated that salons close for at least 30 days in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We knew we needed something,” says Mary Alice. “Clients were reaching out saying, ‘Oh my gosh, what are we going to do?’ Many of them are used to coming in every three or four weeks.”

She came up with an ingenious solution that would keep clients happy while also keeping the salon afloat: She and her fellow stylists began putting together DIY touch-up kits that include everything you need to fix hair color right at home. They come in airtight containers and include developer, color dye, gloves, a cap, a brush, a bowl, and an instructions sheet.

“We sold 55 kits in the first week,” says Mary Alice. “It’s been a great way to keep our clients away from box dye, and to drive sales that keep us going as a small business.”

Glam Salon is offering the kits on a weekly basis, via pickup or delivery, to maintain freshness and ensure that the hair color doesn’t expire by the time it reaches clients. In addition to these innovative, salon-quality color kits, they’re also selling gift cards and retail products as usual. They’re shipping products, like shampoo and styling cream, directly to clients. 

“We have amazing clients who understand the hardships of small businesses right now, and want to support us,” Mary Alice says.

Mary Alice, Jessica, and all of the talented stylists at Glam Salon prove that entrepreneurship isn’t reserved for the tech sector or big business – it’s seen all the time in small businesses across the nation, which make up the very lifeblood of our economy. We’re proud to share a country with entrepreneurs like Mary Alice, whose uncanny ability to adapt, improvise, and overcome is an inspiration to us all.

Annie Astraikis

Written by Annie Astraikis