Women on Having it All: Ann Ratner
Ann Ratner, Co-Founder of Ratner Companies, Vienna, Virginia
Ann Ratner started her career in the beauty industry at a salon in her native United Kingdom in the 1960s. Early in her career, she helped her partner and former husband Dennis Ratner expand his father’s Washington D.C.-based Louis salon chain from three to 19 locations. In 1974, the Ratners co-founded Hair Cuttery with a business plan sketched on the back of a cocktail napkin—today the company has 1,000 salons in 19 states and employs about 12,000 stylists. Although the couple later divorced, they made the unique decision to stay business partners, with Ann taking leadership for the company’s upscale market brands, including Bubbles Salons, Salon Cielo and Spa, and the private-label line Cibu.
Do you believe a woman in the professional beauty industry can “have it all?” And, what does that mean to you?
“I think a woman can do anything! I think we are definitely multi-taskers, and we just know how to handle it. One great thing about being in business yourself, you can adjust your time. If you need to make time, you can. As hairdressers, we are lucky. If you work hard and need to leave early, you can talk to your boss. The beauty industry gives you that flexibility. I have loved every minute of doing it all. I am in this business to the end!”
In the pursuit of “having it all,” what sacrifices have you had to make, if any? “You do give up spending more time with your children. When I started Bubbles, my ex-husband would come home and eat with girls every night while I was starting to build my business. But I took my girls everywhere. I had them folding towels, sweeping under chairs, etc. I just used to have them do little jobs, and then when they got older they were receptionists in the salon.”
If we were looking through a scrapbook of your life, what would be your favorite page?
“The day I had my kids. Those were spectacular—just amazing for me. We also used to do these amazing trips with salon leaders as well—they were some of my favorite times. It’s fun to look back at the wonderful times.”
If we were looking through a scrapbook of your life, what page would you want to rewrite?
“I don’t really have any regrets. I feel very fortunate. I have two lovely girls and am very friendly with my ex husband.”
What’s your favorite tool or strategy or philosophy for maintaining balance in your life?
“I work out at least five days a week. I’m a believer in if you don’t take care of yourself first, you can’t take care of anyone else. I try to lead a healthy lifestyle. Once you are healthy, you can do anything.”