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Lisa's DreamLisa's DreamLisa Craig has been dreaming of owning her own hair salon for some time.  But the dream was more specific than that:  she wanted to open it in the corner storefront in Lansing Plaza.  And she wanted to work with friends.  "My dream was to be working with friends, people that are good at what they do, she says.  "I firmly believe that if you surround yourself with good people you will improve yourself as well.  And to be able to play good and wholesome music that gives God honor, that's my dream too.  So having a place where people feel better on the outside when they leave but also may feel a little better on the inside and can be nurtured physically, emotionally, spiritually that's that's my dream -- to help people inside and out, to make it more complete for them."

A Trumansburg native, Craig says she always knew she wanted to be a hair stylist.  She even began cutting hair for friends, their mothers, and her own family when she was only 12 years old.  After finishing high school she attended Auburn International Beauty School.  She has been styling hair for 23 years, most recently working at Salon T at the Shops at Ithaca Mall.

When she learned that Salon T would be closing Craig and her husband Sheldon shifted into high gear.  She got many of the Salon T stylists to agree to join her as she arranged to rent and the Lansing storefront she wanted, and to decorate and get it ready for business in only a month.  Meanwhile she and her soon-to-be employees kept appointments with ongoing customers.  "Well, I woke up one morning after not being able to get any sleep and I thought here we go," she says.  "It did require a lot of sleepless nights but it was fun too."


Putting the salon together in such a short period of time went surprisingly smoothly.  She came in one morning to find that a sink had broken, but there weren't many more surprises as they worked on the fixtures and decor.  And Craig already has ideas for services she would like to add.  "We want to be able to go online, fax people, send them a postcard, email -- that whole thing which the computer system was not part of, but I really believe it's the age of that, I really do.  If you want to know if somebody is available you should be able to go online at 10:00 pm at night and make an appointment for the next day.  I think that would be cool.  To get things a little bit more in step with the times I think that will help people because they are so busy and they don't have time to do some of this stuff."

Craig says that the Salon T group worked well together, so much so that one of the former owners has come to work for her.  Keeping the core together was important to her, not only because it would jump-start the new salon, but because she genuinely enjoys working with them and respects the work they do.  "I got to know these girls and got really close to them," she says.  "When they decided to close it was all about 'okay let's see what we can do to stay together, we're a really good team, excellent'.  We get along great and you can tell when you walk in the door.  There's not the yaya and we're not a gossipy bunch so that people enjoy knowing that when they leave they're not on the headlines.  I think that's comforting."

Madigan Holohan of Indigo Moon Mobile Spa Services will be providing massage and facials on top of the services already offered by Craig and her crew.  She says that most of their Salon T customers have been staying with them, despite the fact that they are no longer in the mall, or some place in Ithaca.  "I don't think it's going to harm us at all to be out of a shopping environment and people come,  "she says.

Owner Lisa Craig (left) with Lisa O

Married for 21 years the Craigs live in Lansing with their five sons.  Craig says she couldn't have done it without the support of her family.  "My Dad said, 'you go to do this, from day one you needed to do this, I'll help you," she says.  "Really cool.  I feel support from my in-laws, my parents, my husband definitely.  So yeah, it's a dream, it's hardly ever  a nightmare."

One friend of one of her sons helps out in the shop.  "He comes in and helps all the time answering the phone," she says.  "He's really cool, he knows a lot of people.  He says 'where do you get your hair done?'  And if they say not with us then he's tells them, 'well not any more!'"

There is a dreamlike sense of euphoria and flurry about the place as each task presents itself and is done.  But there is the sense that Craig and company are happy to be there, happy to be doing the work whether it is coloring or cutting hair, answering the phone, or rushing outside when the cable installer arrives to scope out where to install broadband access.  And it's first names only: Craig goes by 'Lisa C,' while the others are Lisa O, Pat, Jessica, and Naaz.

Craig says there has already been quite a bit of walk-in business.  "That's great," she says.  "It was like they couldn't wait for something to get in here.  People we have known that maybe didn't want to come to the mall to get their hair done or weren't comfortable there for one reason or another are coming."

If starting a business in such a short amount of time seems like magic, it could very well be a dream.  But the reality seems to be working out just fine.  "We love our clients," Craig says.  "It's about placing yourself yes, but you really want a good place for your clients to go.  You want a nice warm comfortable friendly welcoming place.  That's really important.  That's why we're here, really, so we can be together, stay together, so our clients can have a great place to come."


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