MEET YOUR MERCHANT: Forever Vivid Salon is a good thing in a small space | TheUnion.com

MEET YOUR MERCHANT: Forever Vivid Salon is a good thing in a small space

Pop inside the tiny Forever Vivid Salon on Mill Street and you'll find Sarah Manoguerra, Stephanie Hodges and an abundance of smiles. The two hairstylists and longtime friends share just 220 square feet of Grass Valley commercial space (including the bathroom) and they couldn't be happier.

Eight years ago the pair were eager to get away from the drama of larger salons and start their own business.

"One day we were walking in the rain down Mill Street feeling really crabby," said Manoguerra. "And we happened to see an empty storefront. We thought it looked perfect — just enough space for two stylists' stations. But it wasn't for lease."

They decided to call the owner anyway. As it turned out, the space had been zoned as a barbershop many years ago. But the landlord was hesitant to risk leasing the space to two single mothers with young children who had never owned a business before.

"I don't need the money," he said.

"I do," said Hodges.

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Fortunately the landlord's wife saw potential in the pair, who by then were already experienced stylists. Once they were handed the keys, they took on the renovation of the "trashed" space with a vengeance. With the exception of two antique chandeliers, the small space was completely redone.

"We tackled everything," said Hodges. "We showed up with a crowbar and our dads to rip this place apart and start over. It turns out drywall is the best hair product — it gives you a lot of volume."

Today, more than eight years later, Manoguerra and Hodges enjoy a steady stream of loyal customers, from preschoolers to seniors. Services include haircuts, color, facial waxing, up-dos, and more. Their "wash and style" for $25 is a popular choice. Some customers come in as often as twice a week for styling, said Hodges.

The hair products they offer include Ouidad, Pravana and Formula 18 — all carefully selected for their ingredients, with an emphasis on enhancing healthy hair.

With word-of-mouth serving as their most effective advertising, both Hodges and Manoguerra say the most rewarding part about their job is the connections they make with people.

"You really build emotional relationships over the years," said Hodges. "I jokingly call myself a 'hairapist.' Things that are said in the salon, stay in the salon. Any good stylist knows this."

But the longtime business partners also seem to enjoy each other.

"We both have a strong work ethic and we work really well together," said Manoguerra. "Big salons can be intimidating for people — we're very down-to-earth and honest with our clients about the kinds of styles that work for them."

The only downside, said Hodges, is that Forever Vivid doesn't have its own receptionist, which means clients may have to wait for a call back if the stylists are with other customers. But the upside is that every client will be able to speak directly with a stylist before coming in.

"I love coming to work — it's a job that brings out my creativity," said Manoguerra. "I love talking and relating to people. I feel like I'm giving something back. It's more than just a job."

As for the landlord? These days he's known to buy his tenants lunch, and occasionally he even sends flowers.

To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.

Forever Vivid Salon

104 Mill St., Grass Valley

Sarah Manoguerra and Stephanie Hodges

530-273-0200

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