Women in Business: Shared DNA and Shared Goals
POLAND, Ohio – In 2016, sisters Nicci Alevizakis, Cari Christofferson and Cassi Conway opened Icon Studio, a salon, and Icon Bridal. With the latter, they travel to wedding locales to style hair and apply makeup for brides and bridal parties.
Alevizakis always knew she wanted to open her own salon. She styles brides and wedding parties most weekends and would hire people to help.
But they were often unreliable. Her sisters always showed up and did a good job. She urged them to go to cosmetology school.
Christofferson and Conway initially went a different path. Both graduated from Westminster College. Conway studied political science with plans to attend law school, and Christofferson was working in outside medical sales.
“It wasn’t until they were working in their careers that they decided, ‘We are really good at this,’” Alevizakis says.
The sisters don’t believe they faced gender-related discrimination as business owners. When they renovated and expanded the salon, a project completed last March, they secured financing through Valley Economic Development Partners.
“They did say it was helpful that it was a women-owned, family-owned type of thing,” Alevizakis says.
While there’s a perception that women – and sisters – bicker and encounter problems getting along, that’s not the case for the owners of Icon.
“I feel like we know we can count on each other,” Alevizakis says. “If we have a bad day, we can have a bad day, and the next day, we’re still sisters.”
“I sometimes worry about people who are just friends and go into business together,” she says.
It’s easier to walk away if things don’t work out.
Conway says their familial relationship helps their work relationship.
“Each of us is very concerned about each other’s welfare,” she says. “I don’t want them to be in a bad position, just like they don’t want me to be in a bad position. We’re very concerned about each other.”
All three women are also mothers. Alevezakis has three children; Christofferson has two; and Conway has one.
One thing they’ve learned that they would advise other aspiring entrepreneurs about is the amount of work involved in owning your own business.
“Rely on no one else,” Conway says. “Sometimes we think people are going to come save you, and no one is coming.”
If there’s an electrical or plumbing problem, for example, as business owners and the owners of the plaza that houses their salon, it’s up to the three women to fix it.
“You don’t get to clock in and out,” Alevezakis adds. “You’re always on.”
Fifteen people work at the salon, and the stylists are independent contractors.
The women believe the best thing about owning a business together is their shared goals.
“We want to be full-time moms,” Alevezakis says. “We want to be full-time business owners, run the salon and be awesome at our jobs, be awesome moms. We each know that that’s the most important thing to us.”
Pictured at top: Sisters Nicci Alevizakis, Cassi Conway and Cari Christofferson.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.