Hannah Lynne Milojevich Reinvents the Salon Industry, and Is Now Doing It Again With Real Estate

Dec 20, 2023 | Member Spotlight

Hannah Lynne Milojevich’s journey into entrepreneurship started with a “Why not?”

She had graduated from college in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 2009 with her undergraduate degree in French and Public Relations. It was the height of the recession when not many jobs were available. Not certain enough in focus to pursue a graduate degree at the time, Hannah took the advice of a friend to try a cosmetology school. After all, Hannah was a loyal client getting her hair done every 8 weeks throughout college.

For cosmetology school, Hannah moved to New York City, where she pursued hair styling in the fashion industry. She was enthralled with the use of her hands to shape hair, and the blend of couture and the salon world that singularly exists there.

With incredible experience under her belt and relationships established to continue working the fashion week circuit, Hannah decided to move back to Wilmington, North Carolina, where she had earned her undergraduate degree. Working at a salon there, and just 10 months in, the owner asked if she was interested in purchasing the salon.

Hannah was 26 at the time and had just gotten married the previous weekend. On her honeymoon, she and her husband spoke about the opportunity and decided to go for it. “I said, ‘Why not?’” she says. “I really became an accidental entrepreneur.”

The salon, Beauty Bar Boutique, was a hybrid of contractors and employees, so in order to create a brand and culture, and offer a consistent customer experience to the salon’s clients, Hannah’s first goals were to make everyone W2 employees and to implement a training and education system. “It’s really a master’s program that blends what is happening in the industry with training on things like leadership, operations, systems and more to help make the team highly professional.”

With the employees and program in place, Hannah then began recruiting four to five apprentices at a time from cosmetology schools to go through her program and gain hands-on operational and leadership experience in the salon.

“In those first years, we had 25 percent year over year growth in revenue and then year five came, which is a major milestone for business owners,” shares Hannah. “Our reputation in the community was growing and our team had grown to 18 or 20. We had the leadership, personal ownership, operations, systems and work flow in place.”

This set the stage for Hannah to make an important personal move—becoming a remote CEO. She had continued to work in the fashion industry over the years, in New York City and London, Milan and Paris doing hair for fashion editorials and runway shows. Her husband also frequently travels as an entrepreneur with his own photography company. They wanted to live in a place they loved that allowed them to easily fly in and out, and chose Washington, DC.

After the move in 2019, Hannah decided to open a second salon back in North Carolina. This location introduced eyelash and brow services to the area and was incredibly successful, propelling Hannah to the million-dollar-business level. “I always knew that $1 million is the number you want to reach as a woman business owner, because so few do, so I had the goal of hitting it by age 35 and did it at 33,” she says. “This showed me that we were doing something right.”

Soon after opening, the pandemic hit but salon restrictions in North Carolina fortunately weren’t as tight as they were in other parts of the country. The salon was also following a cash flow management system that helped them stay financially healthy—in fact, they grew revenue in 2020 over the previous year.

In the meantime, Hannah and her husband had begun another venture that they were seeing success with—investing in single-family homes with long-term renters. “We’re wearing all the entrepreneurial hats,” she laughs. With this success, Hannah made the decision to sell the second salon.

This freed her up to do other things as well. She began advocating as part of the Professional Beauty Association, a non-profit serving the spa and salon industry through education, events and more. She was on Capitol Hill with the association to gain support for FICA Tax Tip Fairness, which would create tax parity for the industry.

“That’s how I met NAWBO,” says Hannah, explaining that she was speaking to a senator’s chief of staff partly about how only 3% of women-owned companies in the U.S. gross $1 million+. NAWBO’s advocacy lead, Elle Patout, heard and introduced her to the NAWBO Circle, a program specifically designed for women who have reached or exceeded this level of entrepreneurial success.

“I love to surround myself with those who have reached higher than me,” she says. “It’s the learning part of this journey that really intrigues me and keeps me going. I’ve solely known a service-based, brick-and-mortar business and feel really proud of my accomplishments in my industry. It’s very inspiring to hear what women in different industries are doing, too.”

In fact, now 10 years in from when Hannah purchased her first salon, she is in the due diligence process to sell it. The new owner will be the salon’s third, and Hannah is proud to continue the legacy of building it up and then passing it on to someone internal, who will then strengthen it with their own vision.

Hannah is staying involved in the beauty industry, however, through her work as a mentor with Salon Cadence, a profit first training and education program that helps salon and spa owners achieve profit, freedom and success. She will continue to work the fashion week circuit between New York City and Paris both doing hair and producing for hair teams.

Meanwhile, she and her husband are expanding their real estate portfolio—from single-family homes to vacation rentals. “When we did a vacation rental, it really capitalized on my strengths of running the salons consistently and creating teams,” she says. They’re now in talks to add a set of cabins in California as well as to develop a modern cabin getaway in the Shenandoah area near DC. Additionally, they are looking at commercial vacation real estate through the pursuit of land acquisition.

To add to the excitement, Hannah is in her third trimester with her first child. “It’s a cool season,” she says. “So far, it seems we’ll have a January close date on the salon, so that will usher me into February maternity leave and then open up things for a new time mentally to pursue and build on other things.”

Why not, right?

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