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2013 Entrepreneurs of the Year: Jodi Ellingson and Jill Krahn

Hair Success Salon and Day Spa

Jodi Ellingson and Jill Krahn know a thing or two about starting and running a successful business. Next year, the two will celebrate the 30th anniversary of their first business venture, Hair Success Salon & Day Spa. Hair Success, which was the first day spa in North Dakota, was started in 1984 in Ada, Minn.

Elle magazine ranked the spa as one of the top 100 salons in the nation four years in a row. “Education is what has brought us here,” said Krahn. “The more you learn, the more you see things differently, and we wanted to bring that back to Fargo.”

The two have now started several other businesses including The Salon Professional Academy, Salon Brand It, Salon Professional Education Company (SPEC) and Virtual Salon Campus.

Virtual Salon Campus is the newest venture between the duo. The web-based campus, which will fully launch in 2015, looks to help prepare their students for their future careers. All of their academy students will have access to the site along with past graduates and other salon professionals for a small membership. The courses offered on the site will be geared toward professional development such as maintaining social media sites, managing your money and starting your own business.

Ellingson and Krahn agree that one of the most challenging things they’ve faced on their journey is franchising their school through SPEC. “You have to be able to budget for growth,” said Ellingson. Krahn added that it’s been especially challenging with economy changes over the last couple of years. Their advice for anyone considering a franchising opportunity comes from one of their mentors, Ace Brandt, and involves three key aspects: hire the right leader; pay the right people well; and walk in the back door because by the time you get to your office, you’ll know what’s going on in your business.

The two have also done a lot of work to change their business to fit with the needs of today. For example, they recently developed a program called TSPA 2.0 where they train students on how to interact with the different generations (millenials, generation X, etc.) “We are trying to open up the stylist to see how one person thinks differently than another,” said Ellingson. “We want our students to be able to work with multiple generations and not limiting themselves.”

When Ellingson and Krahn aren’t busy with their multiple businesses, they volunteer some of their time to plan and promote Fashion Avenue, a style show to raise money for the Christmas Wish. “The thing I love is watching all the people from the business community come together to give,” said Krahn.

Their final bit of advice? “You have to go after your dreams,” said Krahn.

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