Finding a suite spot for work
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org March 8, 2013 6:22PM
Lauren Cullen, of Channahon, at her salon suite space in Mokena Friday, March 8, 2013. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 11, 2013 6:51AM
Lauren Cullen of Channahon used to work for a chain hair salon in New Lenox. But almost three years ago the 29-year-old Lockport native opted for a salon suite instead.
She’s her own boss now. She can open and close when she wants and go on vacation without regard to how many days she has left. No one will yell at her for being late, except maybe a client. She uses an iPad and a cell phone as her office equipment, and she can even take credit card payments from a small machine hooked to an Ethernet.
Renting the suite lets Cullen escape some of the drama that comes with a full-service salon, but it is a whole lot cheaper than starting her own business from scratch.
Cullen’s mini-studio, which comes with a sliding glass door she can open or close for privacy, is in a building at 19100 S. Crescent Drive, Mokena, that is owned by A Suite Salon.
Donald James, CEO of the Burr Ridge-based company, said salon studios are similar to executive suites, where business people would rent a desk and have access to waiting rooms or copy machines. But the salons are geared to hair, nail, skin and wellness professionals, who need sinks and specialized chairs.
The studios range in size from 120 to 150 square feet. One rental payment includes utilities, but tenants bring their own work supplies.
“They have access 24/7 and they work when they want to work,” James said.
Best of both worlds
It’s the perfect combination of entrepreneurship without having to be a boss, Cullen said. And she doesn’t have to deal with co-workers, only colleagues in the building.
“Everybody that’s here is very business-minded,” she said. “We’re all in the same place professionally and we wanted to work for ourselves. You can work out of your home, but it’s nice to have the company and it feels like your own business. It’s still a very social atmosphere.”
Cullen is not alone in opting for a modern work space. The coffee shops of America are filled with people who no longer have to report to a traditional office, said Michelle Meyer, a business education professor at Joliet Junior College.
Meyer said one of her former students has started his own printing business that he operates from a laptop computer in his car.
That’s why she’s surprised leaders at Yahoo and Best Buy announced last week they were going to curtail telecommuting from home.
“It’s like a backward trend,” she said of the announcements. “I don’t really understand that one.”
Some companies are going the opposite direction and creating internal social media-type sites that allow employees to post profiles, areas of expertise and what they are working on so co-workers can stay in touch, even if they’re miles apart, she said.
“The virtual workplace is so much easier to have happen,” she said. “People can be working anywhere and collaborate.”
Meyer said the generation she is teaching now will easily adapt to changing work spaces based on technology.
“For these guys, it’s the way they’re used to working. And it’s definitely creating opportunities for people who can be creative for their own little niche business.”
Your own boss
Cullen said she has empathy for workers who have to adhere to rules about working from home or not working from home. But she’s glad to have found her own little business niche.
“I don’t have to worry about that kind of stuff,” she said. “I’m my own boss.”
That doesn’t mean she can goof off. She has to work to make a living by scheduling clients and ordering supplies.
“It’s a lesson in responsibility, that’s for sure,” she said. “I wear a lot of hats, and you have to manage your time.”
So far, everything is working out just fine.
“It was scary at first, but it’s turned out to be really good for me and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Cullen said.