Wellsville Entrepreneur Opens Elite Mobile Hair Salon
WELLSVILLE, Ohio — While the COVID pandemic caused many employees to work from home, it prompted local hair stylist Crystal Williams to take her job on the road.
After graduating from the Raphael School of Beauty Culture Inc. in Boardman, Williams had worked the past 10 years at salons in East Liverpool and Weirton when the pandemic hit.
“I was working in Weirton and everything stopped. I was out of a job, trying to figure out what to do because I knew work would be limited,” Williams said.
She decided to let regular customers know she was available to come into their homes to perform their hair care needs, and she discovered they were comfortable having her there. “People were scared to go back (to salons) and about wearing masks, and it just blossomed from there,” Williams said.
She got the idea to expand her in-home service to an actual mobile service complete with a beauty station on wheels. After a Google search for “mobile salon,” she learned they were popular in larger cities, as well as in California and the South, she said.
“I decided I needed to get a mobile home, and to make sure I could drive it,” she laughed. “The more I talked to people about a mobile home, the more they said, ‘Oh my gosh, you’ve got to do this.'”
That’s when the idea for Elite Studio Mobile Hair Salon was born.
One of those who favored the idea and tried to help obtain funding to make it happen was Penny Traina, executive director of the Columbiana County Port Authority. Williams said Traina went out of her way trying to locate grant funding or loans that could be used to help purchase the RV and equipment, saying,
“She looked and looked and looked; she was trying her hardest, even trying to find money for a woman-owned business,” Williams said.
However, she didn’t qualify for any of the funding sources. So she went it alone, buying her unit and equipment and then tackling what turned out to be the hardest step: obtaining insurance.
“Finding insurance was hard, because of bringing customers in and out. No one in Ohio was willing to help me,” she said. “I made phone calls and phone calls. It was getting frustrating and I was thinking this wasn’t going to happen.”
After locating a willing insurance company, Williams’ next step was actually finding an affordable recreational vehicle and remodeling it to suit her business needs.
For this, she credits her brother, Bryan Baublitz and his wife, Jackie, who did the demolition and construction on the 26-foot-long 2013 Ford Fleetwood Tioga Montara, transforming it from a motorhome into a beauty salon. Complete with a stylist’s chair and requisite mirror, the salon is also equipped with its own sink and shampoo chair, restroom, hot water supply and generator for electric, although customers can allow hookup to their home electrical service.
It is decorated in the popular farmhouse style with white shiplap, barn doors and some southwestern touches in the throw pillows and rugs.
In addition to her brother and sister-in-law, Williams credited her husband Ryan for the support he has given her throughout the journey to bring this project to fruition.
Now, about two years later, Elite Studio Mobile Hair Salon is on the road, offering the same services customers receive in customary salons, everything from hair cuts and color to waxing. And business has been “going crazy,” Williams said.
Along with the regular customers she has had for quite some time, Williams said many new ones are showing interest, noting she gained seven new clients in the past two weeks alone.
Her slogan, “Don’t feel like heading to the salon? Let the salon come to you,” seems to be the reason, she said.
“Two years later, people still don’t feel like going to the salon, especially with gas prices the way they are,” she said. “People say, ‘I’ve never heard of that. That’s pretty cool.’ It’s really piqued their interest because there’s never been anything like this around here.”
As soon as she posted a photo and information about the service on social media, it was “blowing up” with interested comments, she said.
She laughed about a customer who was on the phone with her brother while in the mobile salon and, a short time later, they heard a knock on the door, opening it to find the man asking if he could come in and see it.
Some might expect the prices at a come-to-you salon to be exorbitant, but Williams said, “I’ve tried to keep my prices reasonable, maybe actually on the lower side. I’ve always tried to be fair in my prices.”
Although adding a second chair and stylist is not feasible when traveling from house to house, Williams said the uptick in interest has her wondering if a franchise could work, adding other motor homes and stylists to her business.
“Providing they can drive a motor home,” she said. “I had never owned one and now I can back it into somebody’s driveway.”
Elite Studio Mobile Hair Salon has no set hours at this time. Williams books appointments Monday through Friday with some on Saturday.
She can be contacted on her Facebook page of the same name or at 330 708 3357, although that number is slated to change in the next two weeks to a new number which will be listed on the Facebook page.
Pictured at top: A 26-foot-long 2013 Ford motorhome serves as the Elite Studio Mobile Hair Salon owned by stylist Crystal Williams.
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.