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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, January 15, 2009
Cutting through tough times
By Philippa Stasiuk
VOORHEESVILLE When Amanda Quinn reflects on her decision to open a business in such economically tumultuous times as these, she credits her grandfather Benjamin Schaible for bringing the dream to fruition.
“If you ever have the opportunity to grow during a depression, do so,” Quinn says, recalling her Grandpa Ben’s advice. “You’ll be giving back to society and your community and, when we come out of the depression, you’ll be above all else.”
On Tuesday, Jan. 6, Quinn opened the doors to Switch, a full-service salon located in the Hannaford shopping center next to Key Bank on Maple Road in Voorheesville.
“Grandpa said it wasn’t going to be easy and Ben is never wrong,” said Quinn. Her grandfather, who she was close to during her early teen years growing up in Voorheesville, had lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s and his business advice was a key component leading to her opening her own salon.
But there were others.
Switch is ultimately Quinn’s critical mass of over a decade of active learning and teaching in the advanced skills of hair coloring and styling. For 10 years, she not only cut hair at Avanti hair salon in Guilderland, but, through Paul Mitchell, a hair products and services company based in California, taught other stylists in coloring, cutting, and other techniques, ranging from relaxation pressure points to applying hair extensions.
“I had all those years of too many classes poured into my head,” she said. “I didn’t want to just teach at other people’s salons. I had soaked up education that I’ve had for too many years.”
The petite woman with the precise short hair the color of red Georgia earth has traveled all over America, taking advantage of George Mitchell’s training. The company offers free classes, training hairdressers worldwide in exchange for using and selling their products in salons.
Quinn now holds classes in various salon techniques twice a month at Switch, and not just for the four other stylists working at the salon. The classes are open to anyone in the field of hair care with the only requirement being a desire to learn.
“If you want education in this field,” she says, “it’s there to be had.”
She learned that philosophy from her first mentor in the industry, who was also an educator for Paul Mitchell. According to Quinn, under his tutelage, she experienced the joys of a teacher with an insatiable appetite for communicating the process of bringing ideas of hair technique into actual practice.
Although Quinn prepared for owning a business by taking classes through the State University of New York’s online business program, she says her goals for Switch don’t always mesh with other people’s business ideals.
“I want to do things the way I dream them, and not for money,” she said when describing how she plans to run Switch.
“Some people want to get customers in and out in 20 minutes. We take 35 to 40 minutes. The customer can have a cup of tea. I don’t look at a salon as just a place for women and men to get a haircut. I look at is as an experience, a chance to get away from home and relax.”
The experience of the haircut is a theme that Quinn stresses when talking about Switch. She sees the role of herself and the other hairdressers as givers of a spa-like experience without the costs associated with spas.
“We have an affordable solution to relaxation,” she said, “and we don’t have to charge high prices for a spa atmosphere.”
Quinn, who now lives in Niskayuna, is also surprised and delighted with the welcome she has received from the community. Not only have locals been popping in to say hello, including those who knew her grandfather, but she’s even received bottles of wine from strangers welcoming her business to the village.
She concluded, “That’s what makes me happy to be back the community of Voorheesville.”
Switch is located at 5 Maple Road in Voorheesville. The salon offers haircuts ranging from $35 to $38 for women, cuts for men and children, and a full range of coloring services costing between $75 and $150, depending on the complexity of the color. Waxing services and manicures and pedicures are also available. The number for the salon is 765-7777.