When Catherine La Vecchia (Katie) decided to become a hairstylist, she never intended to work for herself. She says, "I thought the easier option was to work for someone else." For several years, she did just that. While managing other people's salons offered her the flexibility and experience she desired, she realized she couldn't bring her vision to fruition while working for somebody else.
At 26 years old, she started working on the idea for an exclusive barbershop targeting men. She did a great deal of research on membership-based services to build her business model. One year later, she opened the doors to the Presidents Club Barber Shop, in Millburn, New Jersey. Inspired by her stepfather, who was a jack of all trades, Katie took comfort in her youth. She gave herself five years to make her business a success and figured if she gave it her all and failed, she would at least know she'd tried her best, and she'd still be young enough to reinvent herself if needed
With Katie's drive and determination, it's no surprise that her business has been thriving. Last year with the help of UCEDC, Katie took out a microloan to update her space and hire new employees. As she put it, she was a small business, and we were a small business, and after a positive discussion with UCEDC's Loan Officer, Mark Leichtling, working together was a no-brainer.
When asked about the pandemic, Katie says, "The shutdown definitely took me for a ride. I never imagined my business being forced to close for 14 weeks." She also notes that it took two months before she could get any small business assistance and that she remained stressed and anxious throughout the experience. She attributes their survival to staying on a tight budget, having money in savings, and keeping up with all of the programs available to small businesses through the government, state and SBA.
While the pandemic may have changed her immediate growth trajectory, there is no doubt that Katie has made the Presidents Club Barber Shop a success well before her five-year make-it-or-break-it deadline.