Neroli: Then & Now with Susan Haise
IN HONOR OF SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY, WE INTERVIEWED THE WOMAN WHO STARTED IT ALL, SUSAN HAISE.
"I love an environment where someone can get 2-4 services at a time. Busy professionals don’t have time to run and get their hair done and then run and get their nails done. It’s very time consuming to be glam when you’ve got to run all over place for individual services. I think that’s what sets Neroli apart, it’s really the one-stop shop for beauty.” -@susanhaise
What is Neroli’s origin story?
SH: In 1993 there weren’t any day spa facilities in the greater Milwaukee area. There were salons with nail stations, maybe a facial room, but no professional salon and spa combinations. I saw that opportunity and Neroli was opened to cater to that niche market. We added services like hydrotherapy (otherwise known as water therapy), and our spas had jacuzzi bathtubs, Vichy showers, scotch hose––it quickly became a place to experience a pampering spa treatment without having to travel to a destination spa environment.
What motivated you to open a new business?
SH: Trained as a hairdresser and global skin therapist (Cidesco). While working for Aveda, traveling throughout Wisconsin and Illinois, I realized the opportunity to open the area’s first salon and day spa. In 1993, you’d commonly see guests who had to lay back in a shampoo bowl to get a Facial––no changing into a robe or slippers, Massage or Body Treatments were not common services the majority of the market had not expereinced. That said, destination spas were already on the rise across the country (since the late-80’s), so I decided it was time to offer an urban spa experience that could attend to Nails, Hair, Massage and Skin, especially for guests who didn’t have time or interest in the overnight stay at a resort.
I love an environment where someone can get 2-4 services in the same visit. That’s where I think the day spa business will continue to grow. Busy professionals or working mom’s don’t have time to run and get their Hair done and then go somewhere else for Nails, Massage, etc. It’s very time consuming to look and feel good when you’ve got to run all over place for individual services. That’s what sets Neroli apart, it’s really the one-stop shop for beauty.
Did you know you’ve always wanted to be in the beauty business?
SH: I think if you’d talked to my friends in high school in the 80’s, that they all would’ve said there wasn’t a question that I was going into fashion or beauty. When I was in high school, I was into fashion––making my own clothes, wearing leather skirts and pumps to high school. (Hahaha, don’t tell anyone!) I had full hair and makeup done most of the time in school. I just looked different. I wasn’t like the other kids in school.
I started working with the Florentine opera when I was in beauty school, doing wigs and makeup. I worked on three operas a year and in combination with that I worked as a freelance makeup artist while I was also a hairdresser. I’ve always been passionate about makeup and how it can take someone from not feeling great, to looking great. I was just always into makeup and hair.
How do you manage to stay grounded and calm while you’re managing so many businesses?
SH: Walking my dogs help bring me into focus. Yoga is important. I do hot yoga. My chill space is at home with my kids. I love taking baths, it’s water therapy. I love pools, steam rooms, the jacuzzi. I love SPA.
Whenever I can get to the spa, I am so in. My team laughs at me because sometimes I fall asleep on the table. I’m like, “you didn’t know I was actually working until 4 in the morning.” It is a lot, but I love what I do. I never don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I actually JUMP out of bed.
It is a lot all the time. It never stops. But I love what I do and I love serving people.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
SH: Certainly, organization is key to success. Outside of just being organized in your calendar, staying prepped for meetings, and following-up on takeaways––that all takes organization. It’s not necessarily something I’ve learned; I’ve always believed it. “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” I live whole, full days and I maximize my entire day whether it’s serving my kids or valuing what I do from a salon and spa perspective.
Growing the company is needed to ensure I am there to meet all of the teams’ goals. This is an industry where it’s never I or me or my, it’s always about us or we. I’m always inviting people to play in my sandbox. It can be a tough place for business owners. We’re always guiding and curating and nurturing and inspiring and I think it’s tough for women business owners today. But then you hear the lovely stories from clients and guests who walk in their stores who say, “Oh my god, I don’t know what I would do without coming to Neroli for my experience. You guys deliver at a high level and care deeply for us and it shows.” That makes it all worth it.
What are your business goals for the future?
SH: Continued growth. I have the responsibility of leading over 250 team members and that needs to include growth for each of them, from both a perspective of career path development as well as financial/economic growth.
Our pillars for the company are teamwork, passion and growth. And all of our team is passionate about what we do. At this moment, I truly feel we have one of the best teams in the history of the company. We’ve had amazing team members over the years, but this team is all humbly working together to serve the community in a really dynamic and amazing way.
What are some meaningful experiences you share with guests at Neroli?
SH: I don’t get to see the guest’s face all the time. I don’t get to see them glow as they leave the salons and spas. But really, the lovely thank you notes from guests, the google reviews, the yelp reviews––talking about how we’ve impacted their lives. The brides who’ve tagged us in their photos. The guests who include #nerolisalon&spa in Instagram posts so we can see their transformations. The guests who comment on our blogs. That’s how share in the personal experience of it all. That’s how I know our guests are just as passionate as we are about beauty. And that makes all the work behind-the-scenes absolutely worth it.