The Razor’s Edge
A Baltimore native is sticking to his plan to expand his York business despite the recession.
Daily Record/Sunday News
Article Last Updated: 07/10/2009
Rhon Friend started slow.
First, a job for a year in another York salon to build a reputation.
Then an agreement, for no money at first, to use space on Newberry Street until his business made enough money to pay.
At the time, the salon’s computer came from a family member, and the appointment desk was a free, dusty basement discovery.
But since about 2002, Friends: The Salon has grown steadily.
Friend said the city business found a niche the same way companies in the suburbs grow: Transplants from Maryland and elsewhere have created a demand for bigger-city amenities closer to home.
Now, work is under way at 101 N. Newberry St. to turn the rest of a next-door apartment into a full-service spa, set on the corner of the row-home neighborhood just north of the York YMCA.
Part of the apartment was already cannibalized to make way for a salon prep room. Slow-but-steady additions to his products and services are key to Friend’s strategy, growing as opportunities and money allow.
The spa idea grew out of his customers telling Friend they would piggyback spa appointments onto their salon visits. It will offer manicures and pedicures, facials and body waxes, spiritual massages and makeup application.
His business hasn’t dropped off because of the recession, so he will continue with the slow, rolling expansion.
But more than a few have thought he’s crazy to expand in this economy.
“Probably everybody I know,” Friend said. “People would tell me to play it safe.”
IS IT CRAZY?
To keep costs down, Friend is doing some of the work himself to make $35,000 in Community Development Block Grant money stretch.
He originally wanted about $60,000.
Friend didn’t wait for that money to show up. The work is under way now on a loan through the Community First Fund, with the block grant paying back the loan.
Work should be done in the next month.
Cordella Robinson has been a client at Friends for about a year and hasn’t considered a cheaper salon.
She’s looking forward to the spa.
“Sometimes it’s not about what you pay, it’s about the quality of service you get,” Robinson said.
Friend said many customers consider the salon a little luxury they won’t give up.
Monique Johnson freely admitted she’s tried other places — even as Friend styled her hair Wednesday afternoon. However, she ends up coming back to Friend because the job wasn’t to her liking.
Johnson is one of the transplants Friend came to York to serve, coming from Brooklyn, N.Y., after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
She no longer felt safe in New York City, she said, and said she was happy to find a stylist in York that held up to her standards.
Friends “The Salon” in the News
Rhon Friend finishes up on the hair of first-time client Jabo’t Adrover on Friday. Friend held a re-opening ceremony recently to celebrate the completion of renovations. Friend had a rocky start before opening the business in York.
Dec 27, 2007 * In 2001 Rhon Friend moved to York from Baltimore under the advice of his older sister. He hardly had anything to his name. He was living at the YMCA, overcoming an addiction, and trying to get his life back in order, he said. He came with one skill – the ability to cut and style hair – and a goal of opening his own hair salon.
The odds were stacked against him. Admittedly, he had a lot of personal issues he needed to sort out. * You can’t understand what I’ve come through unless you’ve been there yourself,* Friend said. Now six years on, Friend is clean and sober, and his salon, Friends the Salon, at 101 N. Newberry St. in York, recently held a re-opening ceremony to mark the completion of renovations made during the past year, most of which Friend did himself with the help of friends and co-workers. The salon has come a long way since it opened five years ago. Friend used to roll customers on a computer chair from the shampoo sink to a hair cutting station that was actually an old desk he found in the basement. *It was a very, very humble beginning,* Friend said.
Today, clientele from many parts of the county venture to downtown York for a fresh hairstyle. The computer chair has been replaced by salon chairs and instead of the old desk, there are proper hair-cutting stations. But Friend said he wouldn’t be a successful businessman and property owner without the help of business groups such as SCORE, AHEAD, and the Community First Fund and the support of his sister, Carolyn Friend. “It’s beyond words to see what he’s come through,” Carolyn Friend said. She once looked after her “little brother” but now, the roles have been reversed.
Though the salon and Rhon Friend’s personal life have come a long way, he said the reopening is just another phase for the salon. He also wants to knock down a wall dividing the salon and an apartment to create more space and add massage therapy, a nail salon, and an area to do facials. Some of his past was trying and difficult to overcome but he said he hopes others will greet it as a source of inspiration. “The whole idea is to give someone else some hope … for them to reach whatever dreams they may have,” he said.
Pounds Come Off For York Hair Salon Staff
Daily Record/Sunday News
Article Last Updated: 03/13/2009
Article by Michele Canty, March 13, 2009
This just in from “Friends: The Salon” in York:
Several stylists and customers took the weight loss plunge together a few weeks ago and all seem to be succeeding!
Friends’ owner Rhon Friend said the crew is using a herbal supplement that has really changed their lives and weights.
He estimates that at least 10 of the salon’s customers and staff members are succeeding on the plan. The salon is also selling the supplement at the shop at 101 N. Newberry Street in York.
One client, Aliecia Chin, lost 80 pounds with the bee pollen plan, and is shown here in her before and after photos.
So, here’s a shout-out and a congrats going to the Friends salon folks for their weight-loss efforts, and wishing them the best of luck as they continue their work to be healthy.
To learn more about Friends, go to the salon’s Web site at www.friendsthesalon.com.
(I’ve never taken the supplement, so I can’t personally testify about it. If anyone tries it, let me know how it goes for you. I’ll post your results here. I have, however, had my hair done there, and they do an excellent job.)
‘100 Heads’ Hairstyling Marathon
Oct. 4 in York
Stylists at a York salon will attempt to service 100 customers to celebrate anniversary.
Daily Record/Sunday News
Article Last Updated: 09/22/2008
A York beauty salon, Friends: The Salon, is hosting a client appreciation ceremony Oct. 4 from 6 a.m to 4 p.m. The shop’s stylists will attempt to style 100 customers in one day.
To celebrate its sixth anniversary, Friends, The Salon will try to style the hair of 100 people in one day, owner Rhon Friend said in a news release. The multi-cultural salon will offer a half-price shampoo and style deal to help hit the “100-heads” goal. Friend said his staff has never serviced that many customers in a day, but is up for the challenge.
A client appreciation celebration, the event will also have food and coupons for additional styling discounts for future visits will be handed out. The hair marathon and anniversary celebration is from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 4. That day, people will be serviced on a “first come, first served,” basis. “Friends” is on the corner of North Newberry and West Philadelphia streets in York. For more information on the the event or to schedule an appointment, contact the beauty salon at 852-7466.