Andre Chreky, The Salon Spa
Affiliations: PBA, in which she holds a role on the financial oversight and government affairs committee
Degrees: A bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance from the University of Maryland and a master’s in business administration from Virginia Polytechnic and State University.
Serena Chreky might have entered the salon industry out of necessity when her husband Andre opened his own salon and asked for her help, sut she’s certainly made the most of the position. In addition to helping the salon get noticed by media, Chreky founded Salon-A-Thon, an annual 24-hour charity gala that to date has contributed $750,000 to the Children’s Hospital of Washington, D.C.; she was nominated to the board of The Salon Association, and then The Professional Beauty Association; and she established the Mid-Atlantic Salon Owners Network, a group of salon and spa owners from D.C., Maryland and Virginia who meet quarterly to discuss best business practices. And, she helped represented the U.S. in the Women Business Leaders Summit, a private outreach program supported by the U.S. State Department.
Who were your mentor along the way? “The person who has had the largest influence on me since my involvement in the salon industry is my mother. She is the rock in my life, and not a day goes by that I don’t telephone or email her for advice. She never fails to give me straight answers—even if they are painful to hear. She may steer me in a different direction, but she doesn’t squash the enthusiasm. She’s going to be 80 soon, and I feel so fortunate to have her in my life! The other person who has had a tremendous influence on me is Frank Zona. He is the one who nominated me to the board of TSA in 2003, and he has been a great sounding board over the years and always bring a fresh, level-headed perspective in controversial situations. What I appreciate most is that he never overreacts and always finds a solution to a challenging problem.”
As a woman, what barriers, if any, did you come across during your professional growth? “I can honestly say that I have been fortunate to have had doors open because I’m a woman. This industry is unique because it supports and empowers women to succeed. Even when I am participating in congressional meetings, I believe I am able to articulate salon-related issues because of personal experience and that quality resonates with staff and members. Being a woman is an asset, because women do it all. We’re mother, partners, friends, sisters and owners and we have to juggle everything with grace. I find I am much more sensitive to the needs and wants of our team and also to clients. I believe women are excellent listeners and it is a critical skill for growing a small business.”