Family Ties

Entrepreneurial spirit runs deep in Alice Frank’s family

When Alice Frank was a wee one, her mother says not much more than 4 or 5 years old, her entrepreneurial spirit was already starting to bubble to the surface.

“I remember getting dandelions out of the yard and making little May Day baskets and going to nearby houses to sell them,” Alice says with a laugh. Her mother adds, “She also would decorate little lunch bags and walk them around the neighborhood telling people, ‘You can use these for holding things!’”  Then, of course, there was the occasional lemonade stand that, at least on one occasion, Alice took to a nearby construction crew to sell off the leftovers.  

Since then, Alice has honed her skills and has built a successful salon — Fresh Hair Studio — near the heart of downtown. She’s created a niche for herself specializing in hair extensions and what she calls “modern looking hair color.”

When it comes to Alice’s business savvy, you could say the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Entrepreneurial spirit is woven through the fabric of her family. Her sister is her own boss, working as an interior designer. Her brother is a self-employed photographer. And then there are her parents. Alice’s salon sits just around the corner from her mom’s business, Yarn Bar, a boutique yarn shop, and a little more than a block away from her dad’s business, Heins Creative, a graphic design studio.

“They always say you'll never work a day in your life if you love what you do,” Alice says. “But we do work. We work a lot, and it is not just the days that we are in our studios or in our shops. It’s when we’re at home. We don’t just shut our brain off. It constantly goes.”

There have been many conversations about business around the dinner table. Alice says it’s been a saving grace. The advice started when Alice was contemplating her career path. After deciding against college and culinary school, she set her sights on cosmetology school. She hasn’t looked back.

“My parents have always been really encouraging,” Alice says. “I don't think that I've ever had a conversation with either of them where they said, you shouldn’t do this.”

After graduation, Alice worked at a few salons before deciding in 2020 to go out on her own. The pandemic just started to rear its ugly head but instead of being deterred, Alice — eight months pregnant with her daughter at the time — used the six-week business shutdown as an opportunity to build her business. She found a location, her interior designer sister helped her to create the salon’s vibe, and her dad helped create her logo and consulted on marketing.

“I felt like I was a plant that had outgrown its pot, and it was time to expand,” Alice says. “I'm so glad that I did.” After four years in business, she just signed the lease on a space a few blocks away off North 27th Street that will double her square footage. She’s also taken on a stylist who rents space from her. She is proud to say that since she started her business, she’s dialed into her strengths and quadrupled her income in the process.

As she thinks about the growth and all she’s done to get here, including overcoming what she calls “crippling” debt in the six-figure range, she remembers not only the sage advice of her parents but a quote she first read decades ago.

“I was in high school when I was introduced to the quote by George Shinn,” Alice says. “It says, ‘Growth involves change and change involves risk and stepping from the known into the unknown.’”

Linda, Jim and Alice have all taken that step into the unknown. Jim did it when he opened his graphic design studio roughly 40 years ago. Linda took the step when she went into business with her knitting buddy, Sue Baker, to open Yarn Bar six years ago. 

“I think a lot of it — and my dad repeats it all the time — is you have to have faith,” Alice says.

Despite the fact that all three are in very different lines of work, if you ask them about their guiding principles, they pretty much all say the same thing.

“One of the common threads between the three of us is that none of us are doing what we do because we want to get rich,” Jim says with a chuckle. “We do what we do because we like it and we want to help people.”

Linda nods her head in agreement, adding, “You need to be open to the people that walk in your path and treat them with kindness and respect.”

And Alice, who her dad calls his “firecracker,” lays it out by saying when it comes to goals, “If it doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough.” Sure, there might be failure along the way, she says, but “You have to be willing to fail and understand that failing is not failure. When you fail, you’re going to see what doesn’t work and you’re going to try something different.”

All agree that being true to yourself is paramount.

“In Billings, there are hundreds of hair stylists, right? I don’t have to be better,” Alice says. “I just need to be different.” She says her specialty is creating just the right atmosphere for her clients. Before your appointment, you get to choose the drink you’ll be served, what music playlist you prefer and if you would like a snack. Parking is taken care of in a nearby parking garage and when you walk in the door, a warm rice bag or blanket will be waiting for you. Want to read a book? Just take one off the shelf of Alice’s small library of page turners.

“I just try to go above and beyond. I think that’s one reason why I really love my job,” Alice says.

All three love the fact that their businesses call downtown home.

“It’s a total community for us,” Linda says.  Alice says downtown helps her clients experience more than just a cut and color. They could grab lunch at Sassy Biscuit, check out the latest threads at Something Chic or feed their sweet tooth at Brockel’s Chocolates before or after their appointment. She loves that.

She also loves the examples her parents have set for her. She never takes them for granted.

“One thing I am really impressed with as their daughter is that I have the best of both worlds,” Alice says. “I have someone who is new to entrepreneurship and someone who has been here for a long time. To see my dad be in business for 40 years it gives me hope and helps me say it’s possible.”

If Alice ever wants a new chapter in her career, her mom has shown her that’s possible too.

“I’ve told my mom before, it’s impressive to me to see someone who, in their late 50s, started over. I think that’s a really beautiful thing to see.”


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