The couple had put together a comprehensive and detailed strategy to buy an existing company, make improvements and launch Salt Hair Lounge, a hair salon offering ‘Sustainabeauty,’ or hair care with environmentally friendly products.
“The first thing that impressed me was the amount of time and effort they put into planning and thinking things through,” says Slovick. “I asked them what their plan was if they had to close down because of the pandemic, and sure enough, they had a plan in place. It was immediately apparent that both Trent and Katie had deeply considered how they wanted to create this business.”
Katie is a stylist with 15 years of experience and was working at an existing salon when the owners approached her and Trent, an active-duty Special Forces Green Beret, about potentially investing. One of the owners was planning to purchase a local beauty college and was looking to sell half the business. Instead, the couple opted to buy it outright. “We jumped on the opportunity,” says Trent.
From the start, their goal was to offer products that were healthy, not only for the environment but for their staff. Many hair products contain toxic chemicals that have been linked to a wide range of health issues, some serious. “Besides the obvious environmental impacts of harsh chemicals, the health of our staff is extremely important,” says Trent. “We changed the product line we were using, so the colors are eco-conscious, and the packaging is sustainable. Going forward, we’ll continue to look for ways we can do more.”
The couple had already explored several possibilities by the time they came to OlyFed, including veteran options for small businesses. Ultimately, they decided to go with OlyFed because they wanted to work with a local company and keep their money in the community.
“We were so impressed with the kindness and personal attention we received from OlyFed and Joel,” Trent continued.
“They made the process simple and easy and we knew we had a long-term partner with OlyFed because of their commitment to our community, thoughtful advice and support, and their positive reputation among so many business leaders in Thurston County.”
To develop the business plan, Trent relied on his previous experience as a service member plus some additional training. “In the military, we’re used to thinking through contingencies,” he explains, “especially with how challenging the environment is now.” He also took advantage of several Small Business Association and Business Impact Northwest courses provided at Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM).
When Slovick initially looked at their loan application, he went on Yelp to learn more about the business and was impressed with what he found. “Katie had overwhelmingly positive reviews,” he says. “That really helped their case. The fact that she had 15 years of experience also made a difference.” OlyFed approved the loan and the Brelands officially took over the business on November 1, 2021, after a six-month acquisition period.
From Slovick’s perspective, the process was smooth and relatively simple. “Trent is one of the most responsive people I’ve ever worked with,” he contends. “If I had any questions, he would immediately address them. I was happy to be able to partner with them and make their dream of entrepreneurship happen.”
Trent also uses the word responsive to describe the experience. “The communication with Joel and OlyFed was great,” he says. “Joel clearly articulated upfront what they would need from us. The transparency and speed with which they provided the requirements made it easier for me to satisfy them.”
Since the business opened, the response has been positive. The Brelands have increased marketing efforts and done cross-promotion with other local companies. “We’ve got clients coming in over the next couple of months,” says Trent. “They’re loving the product line.”
Although the loan process is complete, Slovick remains in touch with the Brelands. The experience has been satisfying, he says. “Being able to help somebody take control of their future is something I enjoy. Because of the time and effort, they put in before they even came to me, working with Trent and Katie was a pleasure.”
Salt Hair Lounge has been open for just a few months, but the Brelands are excited about the future and exploring local events and activities that will help their brand become better known while they get more involved in the community. “We’re looking for ways to contribute,” says Trent.
If you’re interested in learning more about small business loans today contact Joel.