Andre Chreky, The Salon Spa, Washington, D.C.
Degrees: A bachelors degree in business administration and finance from the University of Maryland and a master’s in business administration from Virginia Polytechnic and State University
Affiliations: PBA, in which she holds a role on the financial oversight and government affairs committee
SERENA CHREKY MIGHT HAVE entered the salon industry out of necessity when her husband Andre opened his own salon and asked for her help, but she’s certainly made the most of the opportunity. In addition to her management role, 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 DC, Maryland and Virginia who meet quarterly to discuss best business practices. In addition, Chreky represented the U.S. in the Women Business Leaders Summit, a private outreach program supported by the U.S. State Department.
Who were your mentors along the way? “My mother is the rock in my life, and not a day goes by that I don’t telephone or e-mail 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. Another mentor is Frank Zona. He always brings 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.”
How has being a woman made your career path harder or easier? “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 mothers, partners, friends, sisters and owners and we have to juggle everything with grace.”
What would you consider your biggest professional break? “Becoming involved with TSA/PBA. So many doors were opened and friendships developed which helped us through good and challenging times. Outside of the industry, my biggest break was meeting a client, who, at the time was the Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration Melanie Sabelhaus is 3 business owner, entrepreneur, mother, fundraiser. She asked me to be part of the Women Business Leaders Summit, and I was fortunate enough to travel to Latvia and Jordan. The possibility of participating in international business conferences and partnering with other women from the industry was invaluable.”
What’s the best business advice anyone ever gave you? “Location, location, location! It is the only thing I remember from the two years I slaved away getting my MBA.”
What business achievement are you most proud of? “2012 marks our 15-year anniversary for our salon/spa. I am proud of the fact that we still have one original team member, Rodney Pinion. I am grateful that we have survived such turbulent times 9/11, a recession, weather-related challenges, and that we continue to stay open and optimistic about the future. I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the community through fundraising. Our work with Children’s Hospital and the American Red Cross have been the most rewarding experiences.”
What do you hope to achieve in the next five years? I plan to give back to the community on a personal level by volunteering at the local hospital once a week; celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary in 2012 and work to achieve a better work/life balance now that we are empty nesters, start a $15,000 annual scholarship fund in 2012 to support our local beauty schools and encourage young people to pursue a career in cosmetology, become more politically active especially in the 2012 presidential campaign, and schedule more time off for travel.”