How did a top high school baseball player go from Withee, Wisconsin to Nashville, Tennessee and become the owner of three premier hair salons? It has been a fun and interesting journey, with a short detour along the way, and I’ve had the opportunity to be mentored by, and work with, some of the top people in the field.
Here is my story …
I grew up on a dairy farm in the rural town of Withee, Wisconsin. Being from a small town, it was important to be involved in school activities. So I was active in three sports – basketball, football, and baseball … and also 4H. (And played trombone and tuba in the high school band, but we won’t go there.)
I loved baseball and actually had a chance at a scholarship, but decided to go a different direction. In the fall of 1978, I attended District 1 Technical Institute for barbering in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Then immediately went to work after graduation for a barber in Augusta, Wisconsin – Les’s Barber Shop.
I learned a lot about business and styling techniques from Les. He was tough to work for, but he had a strong work ethic working tirelessly for hours on end. He also demanded perfection. Les was my first mentor in this business, and I learned a lot of valuable lessons early on in my career that I still carry with me today.
Later, I got a call from Jim Wright at the Mug n Brush Hair Salon. I took the job with Jim because he was a full-service salon. He was very professional, and he was charging $20 for a haircut. At that time, a $20 haircut was top of the line. I was a little apprehensive because this was my first exposure to cutting women’s hair. I had to learn a lot about color technique, perms, highlighting, and styling. (Farah Fawcett hairstyles were popular at the time.)
Another great experience I got from working at Jim’s place was the opportunity to observe a real pro who had done platform work for Redken. His name was Mike Hall, and he had done some of the cutting at large hair shows. He was a huge influence, and we became good friends.
Now for the short detour …
After working at the Mug n Brush Hair Salon for a while, I decided I wanted to go to broadcasting school. This led to a stint at KRDF in Spearman, Texas as a DJ with a morning show. After a year and a half, I moved back to Wisconsin, because I really missed the hair business. I got the radio thing out of my system and went back to where I knew I was meant to be.
I got a job with Bud McClain at McClain’s Barber Shop. He was not great at cutting hair, but he was a brilliant businessman. This was exactly what I needed. At this point I had worked with brilliant stylists and learned a lot about colors, cutting women’s hair, styling, perms, highlighting, and color techniques. A business mentor was exactly what I needed.
Now armed with a vast amount of knowledge about cutting hair (especially the knowledge about cutting women’s hair) and my newly acquired business acumen, I decided it was time to start on a new journey someplace outside of Wisconsin. My Mother was a big country music fan and I had been to Nashville, so this was the natural choice for a new beginning. So I hitched the U-Haul behind my truck and headed to Nashville.
Shortly after arriving, I interviewed with Roger Scruggs, owner of Heads Up. The interview with Roger confirmed I had made the right decision to move to Nashville, and I was ready to take it up a notch. Roger competed in national contests and was one of the top hairdressers in Tennessee. And he had 17 stores. I worked as a stylist/manager for Roger for several years before becoming Roger’s first franchisee.
In 1995, I opened my first store in Madison, Tennessee. After 7 years, I had 3 more locations in Mt. Juliet, Lebanon, and Donelson. I still own all three of these locations today. Many of my customers from my first store in 1995 are still customers today. I have always enjoyed mentoring younger people and seeing them evolve over the years and that has been another very rewarding aspect of this business.
My wife, Judy, and I have been married since 1996. She is an RN at Summit Medical Center. I have three stepdaughters and one daughter along with three grandkids and 5 step grandkids.
So that’s my story. I’ve had my share of ups and downs in this business, but I would not do anything different. It seems every step I’ve taken has lead to something better. It has been (and continues to be) an amazing ride.
Greg Smith, Owner
Heads Up - Mt. Juliet, Lebanon, Donelson