Sitting comfortably behind the counter in the brightly lit Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio, Brianna Farrow described how she had been very shy in high school. With time, all that has changed.
At just 18, this recent Meridian and Perkins-Tryon High School graduate serves as the manager and entrepreneur of the spa she and her family opened in August. Brianna attributes her new confidence to her time in Meridian Technology Center’s Cosmetology program. “It brought me out of my shell,” she said.
“When she worked with our guests in the salon, she found her strength,” said Sue Ann Paine, Farrow’s Cosmetology instructor at Meridian.
This confidence continued to grow after graduation as she worked at a local hair salon and led to the idea that she and her mother should open the Merle Norman franchise. “She inspired and drove me to do it,” said Jennifer, Brianna’s mother.
Jennifer is a registered nurse, but wasn’t working when she and her daughter began talking about the idea. Though she doesn’t have a background in cosmetology, Jennifer helps customers select products and performs free express facials and makeovers. “I’m comfortable here,” she said.
Brianna is also putting her training to work as the spa’s esthetician. She provides facials, waxing, spray tans, lash extensions, lash lifts and tints, formal makeup services and also assists with the retail side. “The majority of my appointments are for lashes,” she said.
“She runs the show,” Jennifer said. “I pay the bills.”
Merle Norman Cosmetics and Spa is a franchise of Merle Norman Cosmetics, headquartered in Los Angeles, California. MNC creates and manufactures the skin care and cosmetic products that are only sold in independently owned and operated Merle Norman studios.
The Farrows’ studio has received a warm welcome from Stillwater shoppers. A local hair studio that offered MNC products closed its doors last year, so loyal customers had to go elsewhere to purchase their favorite products. “Everyone is very excited that it’s back,” said Brianna.
While both mother and daughter hope to create a wide client base and a thriving business, in the day to day they are enjoying the quality time they get to share. “My favorite part is being with her every day,” said Jennifer.
Brianna agreed. “I’ve had experience working in a salon, and it was fun getting to know new people and being around people who did the same things as I do, but I like being here with my mom because I just feel more comfortable.”
Meridian Technology Center has been a driver of economic development since 1975. With a mission to educate, enrich lives and secure economic futures, Meridian offers full-time career training programs, short courses, Business and Industry services and entrepreneurial support to residents from the Agra, Carney, Glencoe, Guthrie, Morrison, Mulhall-Orlando, Pawnee, Perkins-Tryon, Perry and Stillwater school districts.
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