You may know Supercuts as the national chain with salon locations throughout the Merrimack Valley, but did you know that all eight local stores are independently owned and managed by a Salisbury mom and her daughter? In this interview, Honey Tree Inc dba Supercuts owner Susan Marraffa and her daughter Josselyn Wilson fill us in on their family-operated franchise and what it means to them to be a “family friendly” business.
Newburyport Macaroni Kid: How did your family get into the salon business?
Susan Marraffa: I was inspired to attend Beauty School by a friend of a friend. She had gorgeous red hair and a very unique, artsy look. I liked the idea of learning the various behind-the-scenes secrets to bring out, create, and enhance the beauty in everyone. After graduating beauty school at Essex Agricultural & Technical Institute, I went on to get my cosmetology license and begin a career in the beauty industry. I later returned back to college where I earned a BA degree, which helped me take on managerial roles while continuing to utilize my haircutting skills.
Soon after college I joined a startup haircare company offering a new concept as a Manager/Stylist, Director of Operations & Vice President of Operations. Eight years later with a wealth of corporate and franchise-operations experience I joined Supercuts as a Director of Operations in the Northeast. Two years later I was Vice President of Operations on the East Coast, with management responsibility for hundreds of corporate stores as well as supporting [individually owned] franchisees. Nine years after that I became a Supercuts franchise owner with multiple locations in the Merrimack Valley and Seacoast area.
I always loved every role I played and I particularly enjoy training and developing people. I believe we have the best of all worlds in our industry as we get to listen to music all day while being creative styling hair, interact openly with fellow stylists and our valued guests, be a part of current trends in hair and fashion, and set goals to encourage and bring out the best in everyone and the business!
Josselyn Wilson: As VP of Operations overseeing Supercuts’ East Coast Markets, my mom traveled a ton!!! So when the opportunity came up to switch roles and become a franchise owner she took that leap. The market was in our backyard so to speak, with locations in Newburyport and Plaistow, Methuen, Haverhill, and Salem NH, among others. I started working in the office as a young assistant. Reviewing the paperwork and doing other tasks like making copies or filing. During college I worked as a receptionist in our Plaistow location. Once I graduated with a degree in Business Management/ Marketing I started Managing our Methuen location. After a few years of that I was further promoted to oversee the office and the market.
MK: What’s it like working with your mother/daughter? Benefits? Challenges?
Josselyn: I love working with my mom – it’s the biggest perk and the main reason I’m here! She is such an amazing woman who has so much to offer not only with her knowledge but just by who she is. She’s a certified yoga instructor, she eats super-clean and healthy, and she’s a runner – we ran a marathon together in 2000! My mom also shops local and loves and supports the works created by local artisans. She stresses giving back to the community and trying to get involved in as much as we can.
We work really well together because we exist really well together. The joke is that we have conversations without even talking and our management group doesn’t know what we’re thinking! So then we all laugh and have to fill them in on what’s going on in our heads. They’ll say, “Ok, so are you going to tell us what you decided?”
We never fight, even in life. Obviously we don’t agree on everything all of the time but we’re able to communicate maturely with each other – always have. I also think it’s because of this that has made Honey Tree feel like family to most of our employees. We invest in our people. I know every single employee who works with us and I typically will remember important facets about their lives too.
All of my siblings at one point have worked either in the office or in one of the stores as a receptionist, and none of us ever got special treatment of any kind. I remember getting a verbal warning one time because my skirt was too short! The only challenge we have is that sometimes we end up talking about family/personal stuff and we don’t get all of our work done.
Susan: Working with my daughter Josselyn is an amazing blessing! She is strong, bright, responsible, creative, articulate, and fully understands my intentions and approaches in managing the business. Many of our employees have observed and commented on how we oftentimes do not actually finish our sentences and yet we know exactly what the other person is communicating. We do not experience any challenges in how we work together as we are completely aligned in our thinking. Where there is a difference in opinion we discuss all the ideas and variables to come up with the best possible solution. Our only personal challenge is in practicing an awareness to not let the business responsibilities and concerns dominate our personal family time!
We also get to have lots of fun together with planning and participating in our Company Celebrations, Employee Spa Days, Red Sox outings, summertime Manager Meetings at the beach, and community sponsorship events.
MK: How do you define “family friendly”?
Josselyn: Family friendly to us is that we can be your one-stop shop for all your family’s hair care needs! We have family appropriate magazines in the waiting room, we try to keep the music and atmosphere friendly and upbeat. We have an al a cart menu so you can pick what services you want with nothing extra. We are a walk-in business that doesn’t make appointments so you can come in whenever is convenient for you. We can do men, women and children’s haircuts. We carry the Paul Mitchell Professional Color line so we have a permanent color option, a demi-permanent option, a men’s grey blending option, and we can highlight – pull through a cap, paint tips, foils! We also offer different conditioning treatments if your hair needs to be rejuvenated or even a deep cleanse after some time in the pool! On top of all of that we offer an array of professional hair products that come with a guarantee from the manufacturer. There’s a line for everyone with a price point that fits different budgets.
MK: How do you measure success?
Susan: Success is when everyone is having fun, enjoying themselves, growing and thriving in a positive, supportive, productive, thoughtful environment. We strive to treat everyone fairly and with respect and to express and show our appreciation for their efforts and contributions in as many ways possible.
Josselyn: I measure success by how happy and cohesively functioning my team is. I try to surround myself with good people and I can say I have that in my management team. Every one of them is a genuinely good person who is just trying to do the best they can every day in a career they love. We have two managers that have been with us for 19 years! And another three managers who we say “grew up” with us, like me, in Honey Tree. They’ve been with us 15 years starting either as a receptionist or coming to us right after beauty school. So to me, that is success. Giving people an opportunity to grow and reach their potential and fulfill their career dreams is success. Helping people see themselves in a different way so that they take on these challenges and surpass their expectations of what they originally thought capable of is success.
Obviously I like to see us grow the business! Increase sales! At least beat prior year numbers! But you can’t get to that point if you don’t have a functioning team out there representing our ideas and beliefs and not only upholding our standards but also by leading by example.
MK: What would you most like MK readers to know about Supercuts?
Josselyn: I think it’s important to note that our stylists are exceptional and highly trained. A Supercuts stylist not only had to graduate from beauty school and pass a state exam to get their cosmetology license, they also had to go through our pre-training sessions and pass a week long Hair Stylist Academy to be able to cut on our floor. We continue to educate with post-training sessions and are always giving feedback. We train in our waxing technique before being able to perform our waxing services. And we also pretrain our stylists, who need to attend our two day Supercolor class before being able to perform any color services. Our stylists work on live models throughout their training. We also quarterly have on-site education where our Corporate Artistic Directors come in and work on something with the group and then we have individual breakout sessions where the stylist works one-on-one with the Artistic Director on a live model on any area’s they need to focus on. This is where we roll out any new techniques so we can stay on the cutting edge of the hair industry.
Honey Tree Inc dba Supercuts operates Supercuts locations in Newburyport, Amesbury, Haverhill, Plaistow, Salem NH, Seabrook, and two stores in Methuen. For more information, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/htsupercuts/