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Meet Trailblazer Erin Zemet

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erin Zemet.

Erin, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Main Street Salon started at Salon ME, owned by Michael Ehlert. Three weeks after hiring me as his salon manager, he passed away from complications relating to his cancer treatment. I planned to stay on and prepare the salon for sale. His family generously offered to sell me the business for a reduced price to ensure that his first love, the salon, lived on.

I am not a gambler and didn’t have a clientele or much in savings, so I planned to thank them and turn them down. But my husband reminded me that I had successfully helped run other people’s salons, and he thought this was my turn. He said he would support my decision either way, but thought I would regret not taking this chance.

Three and half years, major construction, and an adoption later, Main Street Salon is growing. I and two other stylists with over 40 combined years of experience are helping people express their personalities through their hair.

My family and friends have been immense support. I would have never had the professional confidence to take the chance without the advice of my old boss, Jim Brofft from Jim Brofft Salon Central in Cincinnati.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When I took over the salon, there was so much unsolicited advice from well-meaning community members. I appreciated the support but had a hard time separating that from the unintentionally condescending nature of the remarks. Salons are a unique business model that is strongly referral based. So, growth strategies for other businesses often don’t apply.

The struggle continued with a contractor who stopped showing up. My mom flew out and helped me finish the construction. Even as I was cutting countertops with a jigsaw, I was inundated with mansplaining by a passerby who felt they knew how to perform the task better than I did. It was mind-blowing, but sadly became expected.

Less than a year after taking over the salon, my husband and I got a call that our son was being born at a hospital an hour away. I had to take an emergency maternity leave that was much shorter than I would have planned. Each day was a challenge to bond with my son and keep my business going. Without my family’s help, I wouldn’t have navigated through that time without regrets.

What I learned through this was to trust my experience. The moments that led me to this point were more than enough to help guide me through.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Main Street Salon – what should we know?
I love that we do real hair for real people. Creating the most Insta-worthy long hair balayage post is exciting, but finding a cut that makes wash-and-wear hair a reality for a new mom is also gratifying.

Our salon is throw-back to the old barbershop and beauty salon days where we try to create a community for dialogue. Clients can come in and share their news and ideas in a respectful way without fear of judgment or drama. It’s not just about updating the exterior, but about expanding your mind, too.

Do you feel like there was something about the experiences you had growing up that played an outsized role in setting you up for success later in life?
I was raised in a home where independence was highly valued. My sister and I were expected to learn how things worked and do things ourselves. My parents were always supportive, but they made it clear that we needed to rely on ourselves, too.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Personal photo – Coleen Dodson Baker

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