It was never a matter of if Andreas Hogue would open a salon. It was a matter of when. And it all started in the 1960s when his mom, an Austrian hairdresser, came to the United States in pursuit of her dream to build an American salon.
She opened her first salon in Chicago when she was in her 20s, so Andreas was quite literally born into the business. After earning his beauty license at the age of 16, he was already in high demand with a full book of clients by his 17th birthday. He would go on to obtain a business degree while still working in the salon and in 2001, he opened his first salon with his mom.
Andreas Hogue Salon in Northbrook, Ill. would open 10 years later and immediately garnered national recognition for “best design” and “best training program” in the industry.
It also quickly became the preferred salon for the North Shore’s discerning clientele, earning “Best of Chicago” in haircutting, hair coloring, and even in the men’s category for 5 consecutive years (and counting) in Make It Better magazine.
And now it calls Mellody Farm home, as it opened its second location in Vernon Hills late last year.
“When we heard about the exciting opportunity at Mellody Farm, and knowing that we already had many of our clientele traveling to us from Vernon Hills and its nearby suburbs, it seemed an obvious choice to create a location to better serve our guests from those areas,” explained Ashley Hogue, Andreas’ wife. “We have been so excited to unveil our new space and meet new clientele… we’ve had a tremendous support from the community.”
The Atworth at Mellody Farm recently had the unique opportunity to talk with Ashley about the salon, the story behind it, and what it takes to be among the best of the best in the hair industry. Here’s what she had to say:
The Atworth at Mellody Farm: What does Andreas most enjoy about Andreas Hogue Salon?
Ashley Hogue: Andreas loves teaching. A natural born leader, he is an Educator for L’OREAL and Matrix Professional and teaches at the Color Academy in New York City as well as all over the United States and Europe where he travels to various shows and salons and teaches cutting and coloring techniques. He loves teaching his own stylists, as well as others around the world, as he loves watching young talent take flight.
Atworth: What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered and how did you overcome it?
Hogue: Most business owners say the same, but our biggest challenge is finding and attracting great and motivated talent. Andreas sets high standards for his stylists.
First, they must be naturally gifted at the art of cutting and/or coloring; they must be driven to succeed and dedicated to the craft (we like them to be obsessed with hair); they must be committed to “never stop learning” because they are required to take monthly, all-day classes; they must have a keen understanding and laser-focus on customer service and making people happy; they must show up to work with a positive, “can do” attitude.
Andreas will keep a station/chair empty before hiring a mediocre stylist or someone whose heart is only half-in.
Atworth: Who inspires you and why?
Hogue: I am inspired from all different directions in so many different ways. I’m inspired by my family, my employees, and my clients. I’m inspired by my incredible colleagues with L’OREAL and Matrix who span the globe.
Atworth: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about running a business?
Hogue: Listening! It sounds simple, but you need to make sure you are always listening. Listening to employees, listening to guests: really hearing them and what they have to say.
Atworth: Can you describe a moment or moments when you stopped and realized this is why you are doing what you are doing with your life?
Hogue: There was a moment about 7 years ago–shortly after opening Andreas Hogue Salon in Northbrook. I had a client seek me out and travel from another state to get her hair done with me. At the time, I was doing a lot of work as an extensionist–adding hair for length or thickness. Most of the women who were getting extensions with me were just enhancing their appearance–wanting that Hollywood look. But, this particular guest was having real issues.
Her balding and hair loss were so severe, it had sent her into the depths of a deep depression and she couldn’t even muster the courage to leave her house most days, as she felt so ashamed and insecure about her appearance. She confided in me that the depression had even affected her ability to function; to mother her children; and to interact with her husband. Her marriage was on the rocks and divorce was imminent. When I finished her hair, she was crying tears of joy; tears of relief.
She saw a new woman in the mirror and it was as if she had been reborn. She kept coming to me and each time I saw her, she was improving and changing. She had adopted a new healthy life style of working out; she was eating well; she was back on track with her husband; back to going out and interacting with friends; back to work! She came in one day and said that her hair had changed her life, had set her on the right path. Had given her the confidence she needed. As she thanked me again, tears–again–came pouring down her face and I realized in that moment how incredibly important hair is to most people and how empowered we all feel–as human beings–when we look our best. I am proud to say that this guest still comes to me and seems very happy and settled with her husband and in her life and career now.
Atworth: What advice would you offer to other small business owners?
Hogue: Work hard; stay focused; remember why you started. As a small business owner, you never, ever get a day off–not even an hour off. You wear many hats and run on little sleep. But, in the end, if you can make a difference in your community, if you can make someone (or several) happier, then it’s all worth it.
Mellody Farm: Welcome Home
The Mellody Farm development in Vernon Hills offers residents of the area a unique variety of options to eat, live and play. Brimming with exciting restaurants, booming businesses like Andreas Hogue Salon, retail options like Whole Foods and Barnes & Noble, and luxury living at The Atworth at Mellody Farm, it’s the perfect place for anyone to call home.
For more information about The Atworth at Mellody Farm, call us at (847) 892-4949 or visit us online.