Turning unemployment around into a thriving career

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December 10, 2015

Cheryl Dean’s beauty product sales business, Atlantic Salon Resource, is supporting her and her family and is now poised to grow, a relief for this single mom who became unemployed in early 2014.  Cheryl Dean

With a 20-year history in the business of beauty supply, Cheryl discovered that the unemployment office had very little to offer her when her employer cut her wages by half and she chose to leave instead.  The job leads she got at the unemployment office would have required a change of industry and, at age 45, she wasn’t interested in letting her experience go to waste.  After a month on unemployment, she was invited by NH Unemployment Security to participate in the NH SBDC Pathway to Work program for the remainder of her unemployment benefits – about five months – and Cheryl has continued to work with the SBDC since then.

After an initial assessment to see if she was right for the program, Cheryl met up with business Advisor Kit McCormick to begin. “I jumped at the opportunity.  I had some real fears about the backside of business--the numbers, the taxes and that type of thing.  But I sell beauty products wholesale, I teach classes, and I know the field.  Kit has just helped me grow my business tremendously.”

She and Kit worked out a modified Business Plan--more of an outline really, Cheryl says, because she wasn’t going to need a business loan or need to lease or buy a brick-and-mortar business location.  “Basically I could work out of my car and my home office,” Cheryl says. “And Kit said that made me an easy case.”

She used the Pathway to Work program to learn some other skills as well, such as direct mail and using e-mail marketing.  Kit was helpful in getting her started with a website, which Cheryl is now updating herself, though she claims, “I’m not a techie.”

Cheryl, who is based out of Northwood, NH,  works selling products from a few suppliers, but primarily with one distributor, a Manchester-based company called All Nutrient.  When she was an employee distributing beauty products, much of what she saw came from Mexico, and she prefers to work with a local company.  Today her sales efforts have reached clients up into Maine, down to the Massachusetts border, and she’s heading west into Concord and Laconia.  She’s also got some great ideas for expansion of her business, with new services.

“Things will get a little more complicated with some inventory issues and the need for liability insurance,” Cheryl says.  “I’ll be working with Kit on those next steps.”

Cheryl has nothing but good things to say about the Pathway to Work program and wishes more people knew about it.  “And I can’t say enough about Kit.  She was a huge, huge help,” Cheryl said. “She is such a resource, for anything, and any time I needed to bounce an idea off her, she was there by email, a phone call or meetings-whatever worked. She has the business background and it was helpful to get the perspective from someone who isn’t in this industry. Kudos to Kit and the SBDC!”