— Shannon T. Zarb • January 2017
Part Five in a Series on Local Small Business Successes
A quick Google search reveals just how much clients respect the services of the vibrant Rolesville salon Hair Undone. Words like amazing, beautiful and dedicated are repeated in almost every review – and all reviews are five stars. But what makes Hair Undone so remarkable is not just the flawless reviews or even the dizzying array of dye colors offered.
As the salon prepares to celebrate its two-year anniversary in Southtown Circle in April, what makes Hair Undone truly remarkable is owner and operator Apryl Thurston and her mission to not only employ but to empower those who work for her.
Thurston moved to North Carolina from Virginia in 2008 looking for somewhere to “sink her roots into.” She sank those roots in Rolesville, renting a chair at Salon Anna Michelle, and began cultivating a following over the next four years.
Back then, Rolesville was a sparsely populated rural community that lacked many of the services we now take for granted.
“I felt there was a need and that I had something to contribute to this community,” Thurston recalled. “But I always had a dream of doing something bigger and opening a space [of my own].”
Four years later, that something bigger ended up being something smaller – a 600-square-foot, two-station space in town that she opened with her sister and stylist, Azriel Dannemiller.
The space was small, but Thurston kept achieving big success. The sisters gained a loyal following while Thurston remained vigilant for the next big challenge.
“I just had this impulsive need to keep stretching myself a bit further,” she said. “And once we began building the Hair Undone brand, things just caught fire.”
It didn’t take long before the sisters outgrew the space. After only two years in business – and shortly after paying off her loans – Thurston was approached about the availability of a larger space. The timing couldn’t have been better. She jumped on the chance, moved one shopping center over into her current Southtown Circle location, and set up shop.
Hair Undone’s new 1,200-square-foot space has six stations instead of just two and overflows with vibrancy. It includes a children’s playroom and showcases the work of local artisans. A hand-painted mural on the reception desk and royal-purple accents complement Thurston’s hot-pink hair and the stylistic exuberance the shop has become noted for. It’s trendy and inviting, but, more importantly, it is an accurate reflection of the cooperative business model Thurston has worked so tirelessly to nurture in her staff.
“I feel there’s a lot of oppression in the industry, like the salon owns the clients,” Thurston said. “Here, we believe in cooperation, not competition. We work to build each other up as a community. I really want to make sure my [stylists] feel empowered. I want to teach them how to take control of their businesses.”
Azriel Dannemiller couldn’t agree more.
“My sister is a very unique boss,” she said. “She’s not corporate like you sometimes see in this business. She really cares about her employees and helps [them] along the way.”
Unlike the structure of many salons, each stylist at Hair Undone is like an independent business supported by Thurston and the Hair Undone brand. Thurston also provides her staff with professional, in-house marketing training to increase and professionalize their social media exposure using another local business, Melanie Diehl’s Your Social Media Gal. And also unlike many salons, Thurston encourages her stylists to network, trade services and refer clients back and forth.
“She’s just so generous,” stylist Jennifer Grimes said. “Whatever Apryl knows, she shares with her employees. Apryl is just as much of a teacher as she is a boss.”
It’s a business model and philosophy that has proved very successful. Thurston has just filled a vacancy and anticipates filling yet another in January, and, of course, she is looking to the horizon for that next opportunity.
“I’m not done,” she said. “I would love to be able to continue to build communities and to empower people inside this industry. Anywhere that’s willing to take me, I’m willing to go.”