No one wants to talk about it, but many parents of school-aged children have endured it: head lice. Despite being incredibly common (an estimated six to twelve million cases each year, per the helpful folks at the CDC), it remains a source of embarrassment and discomfort for kids and a point of confusion for the moms who need to figure out how to get it properly diagnosed and treated. When Pasadena moms Hilary Scofield and Michelle Aloisio each went through it with their own kids, they took two different approaches. Hilary tried every suggested remedy from mayonnaise to tea-tree oil, taking three full months (and many tears!) before the problem was resolved. Michelle called a professional lice removal service, and her daughter was free of the pesky little critters within days. Inspired to help other families get through it as quickly as Michelle had, they decided to partner to create a professional, in-home lice removal service. They traveled to Florida to train with the experts at The Shepherd Institute and then founded The Hair Angels, the first Southern California business to be certified in the Shepherd Method. They have since successfully treated thousands of people with their guaranteed, non-toxic treatment. Their business has grown to provide in-home service statewide in both California and Arizona and in the Chicago metropolitan area, and they opened a treatment salon in Pasadena two years ago with a second location soon on the way. Hilary and Michelle are a great example of how business inspiration can come in the unlikeliest of places!
When did you know you wanted to pursue your business or venture? Michelle: My daughter and I had head lice, and no one was able to diagnose it properly. When I was finally told by a friend what it was, I knew there was a real need for a professional service in my area that could eliminate the problem and offer hands-on reassurance and advice to moms like me.
Did your original business plan change along the way or are you doing exactly what you set out to do? If it changed, how so? It has grown and grown! Originally we only provided in-home service to Los Angeles County. After a short time we expanded our service to include the surrounding counties and finally grew large enough to cover all of California and Arizona. Two years ago we opened our salon and we have plans to keep going! We plan to open a second location within the year.
What makes you different from your competition? Our commitment to customer service, our honesty, and our integrity. We always go the extra mile for each and every client. We are always available for our customers. Once they are clients, they’re our clients for life.
What has been your biggest challenge to date? Our biggest challenge is finding reliable staff to provide in-home service. We invest a great deal of time training our “angels” and sometimes it isn’t a good fit, so valuable time and energy are wasted. Because every one of our treatment specialists is a representative of our company who is going into people’s homes, it has to be a perfect fit.
How long were you in business before you started to see real growth? What do you attribute that to? To be honest, our business began to grow right away! We are extremely fortunate in that regard. When we began, we were one of only a few companies providing head lice removal. As our business has grown, so has our client base. We receive a tremendous amount of referrals and our reviews are impeccable. Our commitment to customer service and our guaranteed treatment are what help us grow.
Tell us about a time when you thought you should throw in the towel. What kept you going? Fortunately, we’ve never thought that! We love what we do.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be… Hilary: An interior designer. I was an antiques dealer before I started this business and I have a true passion for design.
Five years from now we see our company… We see ourselves expanding! We plan to open multiple locations and increase our ability to help even more families who are struggling with head lice.
My proudest professional moment to date is… It was definitely the day we opened our salon! It was a labor of love and a great sense of pride went into every detail. We wanted it to be beautiful, like a beauty salon. It’s a kid-friendly, upbeat place where people can come to get help, become educated, and see that having head lice is a common problem that is easily eliminated when you use a professional service.
LET’S GET PERSONAL:
The three words that best describe me are… Hilary: Kind, thoughtful, creative.
While on vacation I always… Michelle: Eat, sightsee, and take in the culture.
My favorite nail polish is… Michelle: A super cool teal shade from Essie called “Go Overboard“.
My favorite type of workout is… Hilary: Tennis! It’s most fun exercise I’ve ever done and it’s a great workout too.
I rejuvenate by… Hilary: Spending time with my family. Michelle: Cooking family dinners.
What is one talent you wish you had? Michelle: I’d love to be a backup singer for Tina Turner. Hilary: I would love to be able to do finished carpentry).
Being a mom and an entrepreneur means… Hilary: Being able to be a master multitasker, and turning off work when it’s time to be a mom.
A woman who inspires me is… Hilary: My mom was and still is my inspiration. She never went to college, but she was able to start and grow her own business and became extremely successful. She always encouraged me to work hard and live life passionately.
One thing I hope to pass along to my children is… Hilary: The importance of charitable giving. I’ve lived a very blessed life, but there are so many organizations and people who need help. Giving back and helping others is what makes me feel good about myself.
Lately I’m inspired by… Hilary: A friend of mine recently passed away unexpectedly. Her death has inspired me to make time for myself and enjoy life more. Exercise, get your nails done, have lunch with a girlfriend, shop! Life is sudden and short and you have to take care of yourself, because no one else will.
Tell us what LIVING THE DREAM means to you: Hilary: For me, living the dream means working hard so I can enjoy life! Traveling, eating out, spending time with good friends…all of these are made possible through hard work and commitment.
Want to connect with Hilary and Michelle?
Image: [Colby Evans]