Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Derby Roan
Spring brought the Swagger Salon to Teutopolis. Despite there already being another salon in town, Swagger is doing well.
Teutoplis is a village built on small businesses. The first establishments were a grocery store and a mill, and the village has continued to attract and grow up-and-coming businesses since.
One such establishment is the Mainly You Salon, which was opened in 2008. The building itself, built in the 1870s, was used as a grocery store and storage space before Mainly You moved in and made the old building a hot spot in town.
The smell of nail polish and hair products are prevalent upon walking through the doors, and the brick walls provide an unexpected contrast to the otherwise modernized building, accentuating the store’s unique combination of businesslike beauty care and old-timey traditions.
“They [the customers] always come in and say, ‘Oh, I love the atmosphere, I love the walls, love the brick,’” said Tracy Bierman, owner and cosmetologist.
Owning Mainly You is a dream job for Bierman. “I cut hair in the locker room in high school,” she said. She’s known that this is the job for her since then.
She said her motivation for running the business is making people “feel like they are #1 of that day,” hence the name “Mainly You.”
“When you get our hair cut you feel better about yourself. You get your nails done, you feel pretty.” She said she loves the appreciation she receives from her clients.
Mainly You’s clientele is now being shared with the newest business in T-Town, Swagger. Swagger, despite only being two months old, is doing great business.
Owner Melissa Belford said she is also serving close to 50 customers per day, but that “everybody tries to work well [together]” and that any competition between the two salons is friendly.
“I have wanted to own my own business since I became a nail tech,” Belford said.
She had been looking for the right location and building for her salon, and things just fell into place when she found the perfect place in her hometown. Swagger has a new, glossy look and similar salon scents waft in the air. “It was meant to be,” said Belford.
Belford said her business gets “a lot of loyalty” because of her roots in the community.
She said that running the business is “a lot of work,” but “when it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, it doesn’t really affect you.”
Jessica Newhart, a nail and permanent makeup artist and Swagger employee since its opening day on April 1, says that her experience has been “fun and rewarding.”
The sense of community shared by these salons represents the sense of community shared by the entire village. “It’s all family. Everybody knows everybody,” said Greg Hess, Village President.
“You have to spread the love as much as possible,” Bierman said, referring to the camaraderie of the two salons. “I’m going there to get a pedicure pretty soon!” she added.