There's a saying that enduring hardship together, brings people closer together, and for Melissa Stevenson and her team at Changes Hair and Esthetics Salon in Amherstview, this couldn't be more true.
Melissa had never intended on taking over the reigns of the salon, but after the sudden passing of her mother Miriam, who was the founder of Changes, Melissa began to wear the owner/operator shoes.
The team pulled together to help her through her state of grief. "I think their love, support and dedication to me and the business, as well as my mom is what has made us the great team that we are," said Melissa.
Melissa has embraced all aspects of business ownership with open arms. Constantly evolving the business through education and teaching her staff, providing them with the tools and training they need to succeed. "I always say to my staff, you guys essentially have a business within my business."
Being an employee first has helped Melissa to understand how her staff feels, and know firsthand what its like to be one of them. "I think that has maintained a great relationship between employer and employee. They still feel like I'm a friend. They understand the person I am, and know my character and personality. They can read me like a book, so I think in my situation it's been a blessing. The mentality has never been I’m the boss and they are my employees. I don’t like the word boss. We are a team and I am the leader.”
One of the challenges for Melissa as a business owner has been finding the balance between work and personal life. "Learning how to do it all, and do it all well has been a challenge for me. Having the help from Lennox and Addington Economic Development has been great. Tracey has partnered me with the right people that can help me excel in all aspects of my business."
Melissa also attributes the support of the community and fellow business owners to her success.
“Intermixing with small businesses in Lennox and Addington it doesn’t feel cutthroat. All businesses work together, support and uplift each other. I don’t think I could do business in another place where I am just another number, where I wouldn’t have that support system," she explains.
Recently Melissa has expanded her business having welcomed a new addition to the space at Changes Hair and Esthetics Salon. Housing a collection of items whether it be previously owned or new, you can find great deals on high end labels in a variety of sizes and styles for a combination of clothing, accessories and home decor.
When Melissa isn't working at the Salon, teaching training sessions or expanding her business, you can find her enjoying the many parks around L&A County with her young family. "We put a memorial bench in Millcreek kids park, because that's something my mom always thought Odessa needed for the kids to stay out of trouble," said Melissa. "We utilize the Napanee Splash Pad and Park all the time, and both the Amherstview and Napanee libraries. My kids get so excited for Canal Bash in Newburgh. We love to participate in a lot of the community events, and we did that even before we had kids," Melissa states with a smile.