When you’re in the business of making people look and feel their best and you’ve been around for over 20 years, chances are you’re doing something right. Carey Carter, co-owner of Carter Barnes Hair Artisans, proves how drive and determination can not only keep you in business but also make you a success. Besides his business, Carter is also passionate about different charitable organizations. Recently, he was awarded the Community Service Award by WXIA Channel 11 at the Bodies as a Work of Art event benefitting The Chelko Foundation and “The Heart of Empowerment” award from The Chelko Foundation for battered women.
What charitable events are you involved with?
There are so many that I can’t name them all but there are some that are very near and dear to me, and some that are very personal. They include Murphy-Harpst Children’s Home, the Chelko Foundation, Jaden’s Ladder, UNICEF, G-CAPP, DIFFA - Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, Meals on Wheels and Project Open Hand.
Why do you feel it’s important to give back to the community?
I truly believe if you give back to the community, the time may come when you need help and the community will be there for you. That’s not why you do it in the beginning, but it’s good to know that you have established a bond with the community.
What are you passionate about?
Success and helping under-privileged children to have a better life. Also reading and Pop-Tarts.
What motivated to first get into the salon/beauty business?
When you can’t afford to go to college but know that you are artistic and a hard worker, this seemed like a natural idea, plus I knew you could make a really good living.
What do you love about this line of work?
I love making somebody look better but I even like it better when they feel good looking. There is nothing more motivating than a great new color or cut.
How has the business changed/evolved since you and your partners first opened Carter Barnes? How have you adjusted to these changes?
There is no doubt that the economy has had a large impact over the last three or four years. I think we have been luckier than many retailers. We keep our prices down even when all the manufacturers are going up on prices. We go to great lengths to know what is new and what the customers are asking for. If you are one of the first anything new, you are going to come out ahead. Probably the most important thing we do is offer services a la carte.
What is something that every new business owner should know before starting their venture?
Make sure you have plenty of parking, a good location, don’t overprice yourself in the beginning; take it slowly. Chances are you will be renting your place, so read your commitment contract very carefully or have a lawyer read it. Don’t believe the old adage that, “if you build it, they will come.” Wrong. You and your staff have to get out there and network, make yourself as visible as possible.
Many hair salons have come and gone – how do you account for your staying power?
After being in this industry and business for so long, being able to provide a family feel to the work environment says a lot about your company. Generally speaking everyone has to go through a rigorous training period in order to be considered for a position. Afterward going through that, you are truly accepted as part of the family. We also offer great benefits and plenty of perks that are considered once in a lifetime opportunities. The Carter Barnes family is quite exceptional and we aim to provide the best for them. That is a great key to gain motivation and to account for all the years of our staying power.
What or who motivates you each day?
First my partners, and then my passion and will to stay at the top. But that could not happen if I didn’t have a great staff doing their jobs. They make me so very proud.
What is the best piece of advice you received?
When I was in my early 20s and partying a little too much, my manager at the salon told me, contrary to what I thought, anyone could be replaced (meaning me, if I didn’t straightening up). I got the message.