A Perfect 10: A Salon Survival Story

Anna Maria Paty faced disaster when her Florida salon was destroyed by a hurricane. The salon not only survived, but went on to thrive and grow due to the efforts of Paty and her many supporters.

Inspiration can come from the most unlikely source, under the most unlikely circumstances. No one understands this better than Anna Maria Paty. A successful salon owner in her own right, she still felt the desire to push her vision further. Finding a bigger vision for herself and her salon was one of the main reasons she attended the Premiere Orlando Beauty Show in September 2004 with her husband and salon manager. It was at this show she would meet Steve Gomez of Salon Training International and Your Business Network. After attending one of Steve’s classes, she had the opportunity to speak with him one on one. Anna became very excited about the YBN coaching program and the new possibilities for her business. She looked to her husband Sean and manager Rebecca for their reaction and they all soon concluded, “We need this!” They decided the coaching program was a great opportunity and signed up that day. The rest of the show seemed uneventful for Anna Maria with so many new ideas swirling around in her head for her new business plan. She landed back home recharged, with a renewed commitment to pushing the success of her salon and staff to new heights.

That’s when inspiration struck, in the form of a hurricane. September is always a busy part of the hurricane season in Florida and this year was no different. Anna Maria arrived home from Premiere to the news that Hurricane Jeanne would soon hit her town. At work on September 4, 2004 news reports were coming all day of the impending hurricane expected to be a Category 5. With Perfect 10 Spa located on the beach in the Melbourne area, Anna Maria and her staff were forced to evacuate that evening due to the closing of the A1A highway. They boarded up the windows and moved as much of the inventory and breakables they could into the back of the salon, away from the windows. Thinking quickly, Anna Maria grabbed her computer tower, business files, and the materials she had purchased for her coaching program. She evacuated with family and friends to a hotel in Georgia to ride out the storm.

The news reports from the European Space Agency said it all : “The storm made landfall late Saturday with 120 mph winds near the southern end of Hutchinson Island, five miles southeast of Stuart on Florida’s east coast, near where Hurricane Frances came ashore September 5. It collapsed beachfront homes and ripped off roofs on a barrier island near Vero Beach in Indian River County. Concrete utility polls snapped at their bases, leaving power lines in the streets. One of the major problems, Florida officials said, was flooding. Osceola County officials said they got 20 inches of rain as the storm passed, inundating areas that already were flooded from previous storms.”

The Walls Are Still Standing

Phone calls from staff and clients alike started pouring into Anna Maria’s home. “The walls are still standing” came the messages. For the time being she heaved a sigh of relief. Her expectations were high upon arriving at the salon. “I’ll never forget the feeling when I pulled off the first boards and saw the sun shining through,” she says. Her heart sank. What they could not have known was that the roof had blown off and water had poured into the salon all evening. The water damage was devastating. It was a total loss.

Anna Maria felt numb. What to do? The first person she called was her mom for a shoulder to lean on. The next person she contacted was the insurance company. She made sure to take pictures and even videotape to document the damage, but the insurance company was still slow to respond. Because Perfect 10 Spa was located on the beach, she carried two policies, one for content and another for wind and storm damage. What she did not know was once the second policy was enacted, the first was void. After many phone calls and miles of red tape, Anna Maria finally received money from the insurance company eleven months later. The only money she would receive was for the wind and storm damage and it was one quarter of what the salon was worth.

Once allowed to go back to the area, Anna Maria returned to try and salvage what she could from the salon. Unfortunately there was not much that could be saved. Wind and water damage ruined many fixtures and furnishings. What the water didn’t ruin, the mold did. A spotty, black layer of mold covered everything. All told, a facial table and two nail tables survived. She called a meeting with the staff immediately and put together a plan to reopen in a temporary location. Piece-by-piece, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, and day-by-day, she rebuilt.

Anna Maria secured an old dance studio nearby that she could move into immediately. It was much smaller than her current location and space would be tight. They worked day and night to redecorate using the open space to give the salon a New York loft look. With borrowed equipment, new equipment, and what staff she could hold onto, Perfect 10 Spa opened two days after the storm. The community was incredibly supportive and thrilled to see the shop open for business so quickly. Once her short term location was up and running she needed to focus on finding a permanent new home.

Meanwhile, Anna Maria was to begin her salon-coaching program with Steve. While she wondered “How can I possibly afford this now?” she also wondered how she would do it without the support. Never could she realize how important that chance meeting in Orlando would turn out to be. Upon calling Steve the only thing he asked her was if she wanted to rebuild. When Anna Maria said emphatically yes, Steve asked her to allow him to coach her and get her through this tragedy. “Every time I was overwhelmed I would take a deep breath, say a prayer, and keep going like there is no chance of failure,” says Anna Maria.

She was amazed by the endless support of her salon team and her husband. Truly rising to the occasion, they put their trust and faith in her believing she could rebuild. As each task was accomplished a new sense of purpose emerged. Anna worked hard on her training to become financially strong and positioned for growth. Working with a coach also forced her to stay on task and be accountable every step of the way. Strategic planning helped guide her to new heights in the profitability of Perfect 10 Spa.

“Looking back I could not have done it without my family, employees who stuck by me and gave all they could, Salon Training International, and my faith. There was no way I was letting it go. I worked too hard and I love my team too much to let them down,” she says.

Perfect 10 Spa’s new location opened December 4, 2005 — not on the beach, by the way. Her business increased 52% while in the temporary location — even with fewer staff members. Anna Maria is anxious to see how much it will increase this year. “ I definitely know it was a blessing, because all the good that came out of people to help in a time of need,” she says. “Plus it gave me shove to go into the new 5,000-square-foot building I had been thinking about for a long time. Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

Millie Haynam, is the owner of Natural Beauty Salon in Twinsburg, Ohio.

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