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Discouraged? Try a little of this elixir

After meeting Jessica and Joshua Dunsmore, I wanted to go home and get an attitude adjustment.

I also wanted to bottle the enthusiasm and optimism these first-time Palmetto business owners have and sell it for big bucks.

ATTENTION: All Entrepreneurs or Would-be Business Owners. Try a little of the Dunsmore-You-Can-Do-It elixir. Guaranteed to bring you success, confidence and growth for your start-up enterprise.

The Dunsmores, you see, just opened the Off 7th Hair Studio in Palmetto.

What?! Someone venturing into these choppy economic waters and thinking they’ll survive?

But the newlyweds don’t just think they’ll survive, they know it and are already looking ahead at expanding their small retail shop that offers hair and nail services.

It all started with a dream that Jessica had as a 10-year-old girl who loved playing with makeup and styling hair. Her cousin owned a salon in Indiana, and she vowed that one day she would, too.

So after high school, she went to cosmetology school, got licensed and was working at a salon in Bradenton when she met her husband-to-be, who was a nail technician. It turned out Joshua had a similar dream, so when the couple heard that a former beauty shop space was up for lease, they jumped at it.

“But what are you thinking?” their friends and neighbors asked when they learned of the plans. “Are you crazy? Don’t you know that no one is spending extra cash these days?” they insisted.

“We just knew it would work, we knew our skills, and we were confident,” Joshua said. “People will always get a haircut.”

And they were smart. They wanted to create a Steel Magnolias’ environment for their neighborhood shop, to create a place people would come by for a chat and a cup of coffee. But they wanted to keep prices as low as they could, so they decided to charge $10 for haircuts and $20 for a pedicure.

“We wanted to provide a service, and we knew people wanted the service, so we met halfway,” Joshua said.

They redecorated the shop with a red-and-white zebra theme and opened their doors in April.

To outsiders, their first month in business might have looked as if their friends’ and relatives’ dire predictions were coming true. With few customers, Joshua started checking costume shops to find a zebra outfit. “I thought I could wear it while waving a sign around,” he said.

But they held the course, did some advertising, got some return customers and through word-of-mouth things began to pick up.

Now in the fourth month of operation, the Dunsmores say their phones are ringing and their stick-to-itness is working.

The proof of their success was when their accountant recently remarked on how their business had drastically increased.

Joshua’s dad was a missionary and Jessica’s a minister, so it’s not surprising that their faith is part of their core values.

“My trust isn’t in the economy, it’s in God,” Jessica said.

“If you honor God with your life and business, He will take care of you,” Joshua said.

They don’t spend a lot of time looking back; they are busy planning ahead. Jessica’s advice to other new business owners or those struggling is to do the same.

“Every day is a new start; you can’t give up,” she said. “You can’t go forward by looking at your past. I’m just excited to come to work every day.”

Jennifer Rich, Herald business editor, can be reached at (941) 745-7087.