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Meet Stevi Dowells of Hair Elite in Hawthorne

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stevi Dowells.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I worked corporate America from the age of 18 until I was 33. At age 33, I began feeling unhappy in my career. I picked up a college catalog to look and see what I could do besides the Administrative duties I was doing. I saw cosmetology. Since I was unhappy with my hairstylist at the time, I inquired. I decided to do hair! Everyone laughed because I went to college at USC. “Do hair?” Everyone knew that I couldn’t do anything with my own and depended on someone else to keep me “Corporate ready.” Nonetheless I quit my job and signed up. I wasn’t great at hair but excellent with customer service! After being teased by a salon owner, I decided I was going to be the best. I began to use all of what I learned in corporate America in my hair business. Everything from accounting to marketing and promotions. My small clientele grew from about 10 clients a week to an average of 55 clients a week in 6 months. All the other stylist knew I was new to the industry and wondered how I was able to do that. Simple! I built my clientele on mutual respect and a lot of integrity!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing. I think differently than most of my peers because I worked many years in corporate America before doing hair. Most of them came right out of high school into cosmetology. I already learned for instance that time is valuable. I had deadlines to meet and often had to clock in and clock out of work. Thus, I respect the clients time. This made me faster than most other stylist. And even though I wasn’t as skilled as other hairstylist, my customer service skills seemed to surpass that I my business grew twice as fast. As a personal assistant/office manager/human resource admin assistant/legal secretary/etc I worked with all different types of personalities and learned how to work with people on their level, without being insulting.

There were many other types of challenges besides my relationship with stylist, financial challenges hit me during the recession as well. When it did, I decided to reduce my prices to help clients to keep their regular appointments. Wow! I ended up with more money then than ever. Clients kept referring people because of the price and respect for their time. I remembered that many years prior one of my employers said, “Stevi, always remember that 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing.” That stuck and I abided by it.

Please tell us about Hair Elite.
We are the number one hair salon in Hawthorne! I love creating an environment that new clients and stylist say is warm and inviting. We are known for our teamwork and friendly spirit! I specialize in the Brazilian Blowout and color. I am most proud of the people I work with and how they have adapted to our mission which is basically teamwork. I love the wonderful things new people say about their experience in our salon. What sets us apart from others is our level of service and respect for our client’s time and request.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
1. When I was five for Christmas I got 5 Suzy Homemaker machines! Grill, oven, candy maker, snow comb, cotton candy.

2. At seven my grandmother taught me to bake/cook. By 12 I could prepare a 7 course meal for a family of 6 in 30 minutes.

3. Travelling with my parents, dad worked for western airline.

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