This legendary beauty and skin are expert shares her success with the industry and community.
Sue Riley's beauty career began when she was a small girl visiting her aunt's beauty salon in Durant, Okla. She took every opportunity to visit this exciting place, watching her aunt deal with a variety of customers and witnessing innovative facial techniques.
As she reached her teens, she was cutting her friends' hair and working in a beauty salon on Saturday afternoons. At the encouragement of her husband, she enrolled in IsBell's Beauty School in Dallas, beginning her love affair with aesthetics. Six months after graduation, and at the ripe old age of 19, she opened her first salon.
With six styling chairs and only employee (herself!), Sue began making a name for herself. "I was scared to death that I would not be a success," Sue remembers. "Word of mouth spread about the ‘new salon in town,' and within six months I had five employees working for me."
She worked six days a week and spent Sunday afternoons cleaning and preparing the salon for the busy week ahead. With no formal business training and only two years after opening her first salon, a second salon was created, followed by a third seven years later.
Elements of Success
Over the years, Sue has credited her success to several things. She is extremely selective in location sites and hires only those who will work as "team" players and fir in with existing employees.
"I am alert to my competition and am competitive in every way," she says.
Her salons are full-service, offering hair, skin and body care, as well as make-up, nails and a boutique boasting the latest in fashion and accessories. Her philosophy as a beauty professional is that she sincerely cares about each and every client who visits her salon.
"I try to be especially sensitive to each client as a person, not only mentally and physically, but also spiritually," she says. It is her goal to not only make her clients look better, but to elevate their self-esteem and help them carry these feeling of self-worth throughout every phase of their life.
Continuing education has also been a priority in Sue's career. "I have always believed that you can learn something from everyone that touched your life," she says. "You need to continue attending shows and seminars, always striving to learn from other professionals."
Sue conducts, teaches and directs business seminars, bringing together members of the Internal Revenue Service, employment commissions and other salon owners, covering just about everything needed to run a successful business.
She travels to local beauty schools and high schools, advising and lecturing on what beauty school students can expect after graduation. From young girls in Girl Scouts troops to peers in her profession, she gives of herself to bring out the best in others. And by constantly staying abreast of the latest trends and techniques, she has become an invaluable force behind her salon.
A Dynamic Duo
Speaking of her salon, Sue and partner Deniece Moss provide a unique combination. Friendly competitors in their neighborhood for a number of years (after Sue had sold two of her salons), the women merged their respective businesses and employees under one roof, creating Tres Chic, the largest full-service salon in North Dallas.
According to Sue, Deniece is a genius with perms and colors and handles that area of the salon. The two have built a diversified clientele ranging from young teens to corporate executives. The salon concept is that of a team working together to build an enthusiastic and pleasant work environment.
"I consider my employees as working with me, not for me," Sue says. "We are all linked together by bonds of caring and sharing in each other's lives. This is not only my profession, but is my avocation and statement of life."
Sue and Deniece are dedicated to offering the latest in services and education. From skin and body care, hair and nail care, to the finishing touches of make-up and a trip to the boutique, Tres Chic strives to bring out a woman's inner beauty.
Sue believes that skin care is a reflection of the depth of values within a person, not just a superficial luxury. By releasing a woman's potential to become all she can be, her looks will better exemplify the substance beneath the vital, warm and appealing body image.
When clients express doubt regarding the financial aspect of skin and body care, she encourages them to take time for themselves. She helps them understand that when a woman looks good, she feels better about herself, and this feeling may be carried over into all aspects of her life.
Giving of Herself
Sue believes that educating their clients reaps rewards far beyond the doors of the salon. Skin care, make-up and hair care classes are taught as a complimentary service. Up to three hours may be spent going over the proper at-home skin care regimens and the importance of monthly facials, as well as the blending of colors and application of makeup. Women learn how to keep up the appearances of hair and nails between salon visits, and the classes and services combined keep them coming back.
It may sound as though Sue Riley rarely gets away from the salon. On the contrary, not only is she dedicated to helping those in her community, but she also takes it to the capital when necessary.
As a member of the Texas Professional Salon Owners Group, she is one of about 50 members lobbying for changes in state lows; she has lobbied for a bill requiring an increase in the numbers of hours needed to become a licensed aesthetician and manicurist, as well as legislation regarding licensing requirements for independent contractors.
During a recent Texas legislative sessions, Sue traveled to Austin weekly and realized her goal when these bills were passed and signed by the governor. Her group is one of a few of its kind in the United States striving for a more professional industry. "We're not many, but we're real loud!" Sue says.
As a whole, the salon is dedicated to community service and donates money, food and gifts to a home for abused families during the holiday season. Cookbooks are put together with the help of staff and clientele, and all proceeds are donated to area hospitals as well as national charities. The staff at Tres Chic also sponsors four to six style shows a year, again donating all profit to charity.
How does Sue Riley sum up her keys to success? "All in All, I love this business, and the past 30 years have certainly passed very quickly. I look forward to many more years of taking care of our clients and helping anyone seeking experience and knowledge."
What Sue Riley's Peers Say
"Sue is a total professional. She has always given of her time and herself to help and teach others, so they too can be true professionals." Kathy Driscoll, director, National Aesthetics Speakers Bureau, Houston.
"Education is a priority for Sue Riley, so she is forever the teacher of staff and clients. She herself is an avid student with a voracious appetite for learning, hungry to learn new techniques for her clients." Nancy Howe.
"She speaks softly but carries a big stick when it comes to her pride and dedication. Aesthetics in Texas should be very proud and thankful for Sue Riley. I know I am." Deniece Moss, Tres Chic Salon, and Dallas.
"Of all the people I have met in Dallas through the business, Sue Riley stands out as the most involved and most willing to pursue excellence in the industry. She would be successful in any business." King Hazle, Charlott's Spa Salon, Dallas.