After Lena Cooper opened the doors to BOSS The Salon, she wanted to find ways to grow her business. She learned about the Be Strategic: Grow Your Business program offered through the Entrepreneur Fund in partnership with the City of Duluth.
Be Strategic is a business acceleration program for entrepreneurs looking to grow revenue and work more strategically within their business. As Lena learned, along with the cohort, the Entrepreneur Fund is a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurs to gain flexible financing and resources to take their businesses to the next level.
Once Lena completed Be Strategic and presented her growth plan, the Entrepreneur Fund fueled her commitment to growth with an SBA Microloan to expand her Aveda product line, refurbish styling stations and capture revenue growth – opening doors in Aveda training and career opportunities in becoming a Pure-Professional Stylist Educator for Aveda.
Candi Broeffle, business advisor with the Entrepreneur Fund and Be Strategic facilitator said, “Lena is a talented and experienced business owner who has put together a strong plan for growth. Her passion and tremendous drive have been key to her success.”
The idea for BOSS The Salon came to Lena while on a road trip to Duluth. After noticing a lack of salons that catered to African American hair needs, Lena researched and secured resources to help her open a salon of her own. She packed her belongings in a U-Haul and made the trek to start a new journey in Duluth.
Lena stayed in shelters until she got on her feet and she didn’t always feel welcome along the way. She faced discrimination and uncertainty being a part of a minority group in the area. She participated in the documentary The Secrets of Being Black – Duluth Edition to share her story. These experiences led Lena to create an inclusive environment within her business. She worked hard to start and grow her business by spreading the word about her salon and building her client base.
Lena found that with determination and a solid plan, the resources she needed to get started were available, even without a lot of capital upfront. As part of her journey, Lena tapped into community resources to strategically achieve her goal. With help from the UMD Center for Economic Development, she learned about starting a business and what resources were available to make it happen.
With this expansion and new opportunity, Lena continues to look for innovative ways to grow her business. Knowing she’s making a difference in her community, she has a lot to keep her motivated. “My African American clients often tell me, ‘I hope you don’t go anywhere!’ That really keeps me going,” said Lena. “Reflecting on where I came from, what I came through to open my salon. If I didn’t have this business, I’d be back at square one.”
Though Lena specializes in styling textured hair, she welcomes people with any hair type to her salon. “I love to do hair,” continued Lena. “When I transform someone’s hairstyle, that’s what makes me feel good.”