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Local Business is Stylin’ on CWRU Top 100 List

In a struggling ecomony, would people spend their hard-earned cash to pamper themselves? According to Serina Peck, co-owner of Bella Capelli Salon and Spa in Westlake, the answer is more than skin deep.
“What was once considered a luxury is now viewed as a necessity. People want to feel good and look good to maintain their well being,” she stated during a recent tour of the salon, which she and business partner Sandy Borrelli have run for 13 years, five at the current location. This thought, along with detailed attention to customer service, has landed the salon on the “Weatherhead 100,” one of Northeast Ohio’s most prestigious business lists.
Compiled annually for the past 23 years by Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, the list recognizes the top 100 area businesses that have shown sustained growth in sales during the past five years. Companies whose sales had grown from more than $100,000 in 2004 to more than $1 million in 2009 and employed over 16 full-time staffers were eligible.
Peck said that winning a spot on the list came as a surprise to her and Borelli. “Our human resources (coordinator) encouraged us to enter. When we were recognized, we were both very shocked,” she said.
After a tour of her salon and spa, Peck, who is as effervescent as her red curls, recalled that she and Borelli met while working at a salon in Bay Village.
“We knew changes were happening there, and one day we said, ‘Lets open our own salon,’” she recalled, adding that neither she or Borelli had known that they would ever actually own their own business. Peck became emotional while talking about Borelli, who was unavailable during the interview due to treatments for stage four metastatic melanoma, diagnosed three years ago.
“I wouldn’t be here without her. She’s one of the strongest and most passionate people I know,” said Peck, adding that her business partner had been in remission for two years. “She takes it where it’s at at the moment,” contiuned Peck, adding that although Borelli no longer actually works on clients, she is still a major part of the business.
“Her mind works faster than anyone’s,” she said.
Borelli was responsible for the name Bella Capelli, which is Italian for “beautiful hair.”
“I’m just the Irish girl along for the ride,” Peck said. “Sandy called one day and said ‘Bella Capelli,’ and I said that’s it.”
Beginning with a 2,000-square-foot salon on the corner of Center Ridge and Canterbury Roads, Peck recalled an initial staff of four stylists, a nail technician and two receptionists.
“We didn’t plan to have a big salon. This was scary,” said Peck, refering to the present 4,800-square-foot spa.
Asked what she felt was the most important aspect of the job, Peck responded, “I feel it’s customer service. You try to go above and beyond to make each client feel like they are the only one. As large as we have gotten, we try hard to make everyone feel special and remember their name.”
The business is about to welcome its 30,000th client. Peck said due to a “huge” referal rate, the business does little marketing.
Of those thousands of names in the data bank, Peck said that about 20 percent are men, who come in not just for haircuts, but color, nail and spa treatments.
Peck called men an untapped market. She told the story of a client’s husband who came to the spa and was impressed with the personal attention, which included cookies and coffee. In an e-mail, Peck said he wrote, “My barber never did that!”
“Men like being pampered, and they’re getting less bashful about that,” she said.
Asked about another enjoyable aspect of her work, Peck responded, “It’s the success of our employees. Watching an intern grow and get a first house, or car or condo.” She added that five or six of her 42 employees have been with her for over 10 years.
Peck advised anyone looking to get into the business to spend time looking at schools, which have evolved beyond the traditional beauty school.
“There are some awsome academies out there. Spend time observing and shadowing,” she said. “There is no time to sit around. If something drips, wipe it up, if something spills, clean it, if someone needs something, get it.”
Most importantly, she said, “Smile no matter what kind of day you’ve had.”

 

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