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Gina's Story

gina2016-2.jpgAbout Gina Ludwig, CEO
Hair Comes the Bride, Inc.
(CLICK HERE to Listen to Article)

Most of you know that I am the owner and CEO of Hair Comes the Bride and that we sell bridal hair accessories but what many of you might not know is that I started out as a bridal stylist.  When I started Hair Comes the Bride my son was just born (he's 20 now) and I had been working in a salon struggling to get clients and pretty much hating my life behind the chair!  I wanted to be home with my new baby but me and my husband were struggling financially and I needed to work.  Plus, I really did love doing hair, I just hated everything but styling!  Cuts, color, perms (yes people still got perms back then) I hated all of it!  I couldn't wait to finish a haircut just to get to the styling or on the rare occasion that we got a bride who came into the salon, I was in heaven!  Twenty years ago there weren't any blow-dry bars and no one (and I mean no one) was specializing in wedding hair!  But to me, it seemed like the perfect solution to be able to do what I love and to work on the weekends when my husband was home so that I could be home with my baby!  Who btw, also happened to be a 3 1/2 pound preemie who really needed his mommy!  Hair Comes the Bride was born...now I had two newborn babies to take care of!  lol

I wish I could tell you that I was this business genius who came up with a brilliant business plan and then executed it with precision but that was far from the case!  As a matter of fact, I had a horrible childhood and had to drop out of high school when I got kicked out of the house when I was 17 (but that's a whole other story)!  No business plan and no friggen idea what I was doing but I just did it anyways!  I got out the phone book (yes, you heard me, the phone book....we didn't even have computers back then if you can imagine) and I started calling any and every wedding vendor and location that was listed, introducing myself and my services.  I went to the printer and made some brochures which, I can't remember now but I am sure were super cheesy and I sent those out or in some cases hand delivered them to anyone and everyone who would take one!  This was around July of 1996 and during December and the holiday time of that same year, I went to Trader Joes and got a couple of cases of really cheap wine (which was all I could afford), put some bows around the bottles and delivered them to every hotel in Orange County that I could find that did weddings. 

I kept this up through the Spring of 1997, pounding the pavement and by the next summer, I was already doing weddings just about every weekend, even hiring an assistant to help me.  Soon, I was booked up almost every weekend and realized that instead of turning weddings down, I could perhaps hire people to do the extra weddings and I could take a portion of the money!  Hair Comes the Bride was going through puberty!  And just like a typical teenager, the business became a complete pain in my ass!  More brides, more stylists, more problems!!!  I needed to get a handle on this business thing because even though I was making some really good money (more than I thought I could ever make at that time in my life) I wasn't really having that much fun most of the time like I was in the beginning.  I went to the library and got every book I could find on business (remember, we didn't have the internet back then and I couldn't afford to buy the books) so I ready my business library books and I started implementing some of the ideas I was finding as well as coming up with some new ideas on my own.  And then something really interesting happened....I started to really enjoy and look forward to running and growing the business just as much as I loved doing the hair and makeup, honestly.....even more!!! 

After that, there was no stopping me!  I rented a little office space to do previews at that was literally so small I used to pray that a bride didn't bring more than one or two people with her to the preview otherwise, we would barely fit.  But, I LOVED that office...it felt like such an amazing accomplishment!  Awwww, I am actually getting a little nostalgic just thinking about it now!  I quickly outgrew that space and got another larger space and then another one and another until I finally settled into a cute little storefront where I stayed for about ten years and where me and my crew did previews and sold hair accessories and jewelry.  I stayed in this space for ten years and grew my Southern California crew even opening a second location on Robertson Blvd. in Beverly Hills and then a third on PCH in CoronaDel Mar!  During this time is when the internet started taking off and I decided to put some of our accessories online, the beginning of what is now my thriving online accessory boutique.  Along with growing the online boutique, I continued to grow my crew in Southern California.  It was during this time that we also began to get featured on television and in magazines and we easily did 300-350 weddings a year...the bridal beauty business was booming!  It was also during this time that me and my husband decided to adopt a baby! 

The new baby came and grew along with the bridal beauty business AND the storefronts but, things soon got to be very overwhelming and stressful for me.  Just like had happened, I wasn't having that much fun and I was watching my now 2 year old being raised by a nanny so that I could run the business!  I wanted to be home with my baby but my business also needed me....what to do?  Well, what I did was make the decision to close the storefronts since that was where most of my time and money was going!  It was a very difficult decision but one, that looking back in hindsight now, was what made it possible for me to grow the business even more while also having time to be with my baby.  I closed the storefronts and also stopped doing any weddings myself and rented an office space where me and my staff could run the bridal beauty and online retail business out of.  It was at this time that one of my top stylists moved to New York City and after a few months emailed me to complain about not being able to find consistent work as a hairstylist/makeup artist.  Light bulb!!!!  What if I marketed Hair Comes the Bride in New York and had her do the weddings?  She was already trained on our style of hair and makeup and our policies and procedures...it seemed like a no-brainer.  And so, that is exactly what I did!

After New York came Atlanta, Connecticut, New Jersey and then Dallas!  I was running crews and even doing classes across the US!  We were doing upwards of 500 weddings a year and I had created systems in my business that allowed me to have my staff easily and effectively run the day to day operations of the business while I spent my time on marketing and growing the business, which was my true passion!  It was during this time that I, quite by chance, started doing business coaching.  It is not something I had ever thought of doing but was approached by a stylist who I had known through the industry that just wanted to pick my brain and get my advice on a few things.  After a three hour long conversation at coffee, she begged me to mentor her and help her get her business on track, which I did.  It was one of the most satisfying things I had ever done in business...I need to do more of this!  So, I did, I took on more coaching clients and loved it! 

I continued running the bridal beauty business and the online retail business and the business coaching AND trying to be the best mom I could be....phew!!!  Déjà vu!  Something had to give, I'm not having fun anymore....again!!!  Which brings us to just a few years ago.  In 2013 I made what some would say was the crazy decision to let the beauty business go!  Crazy because it was a thriving, profitable business!  But, I knew that #1 something had to give and #2 I knew that I really wanted to focus on working with stylists and doing the business coaching (which is my true passion) and I felt as though I really couldn't be giving advice and coaching stylists when I was their direct competition...it was clearly a conflict of interest!  So, I fazed out the bridal beauty business and began focusing on growing the already successful online retail boutique as well as starting the stylist affiliate program at the end of 2014! 

Which brings us to the present!  I decided to not take on any new coaching clients for the most of 2015-2016 while I spent time creating, building and refining the affiliate program.  Now with over 350 affiliate stylist across the US, I am ready and SO excited to once again focus my attention on my true love....business mentoring and coaching!  I am taking on new coaching clients as well as actively working on programs and trainings that will help you start, build, maintain and grow a thriving bridal beauty business!

This is just a small overview of the history of Hair Comes the Bride and my journey and I don't want you to think that it was easy and effortless for me....quite the contrary, which is exactly why I am so passionate about business coaching!  I can't tell you how many sleepless nights I spent not knowing what to do or where to turn in my business!  Dealing with nightmare brides or nightmare stylists or trying to keep up with all of the demands of being an entrepreneur and a mom!  I had to figure everything out on my own but, I did and  I am proud to say that in the end, I was able to create a business that ran like a well-oiled machine with very few problems, ever!  If I wanted to, I could have walked away from my business for a month and have everything run perfectly smoothly without me!  I created systems that allowed us to book 90% of our brides without ever talking to them on the phone and without a million emails back and forth!  As a matter of fact, our phone hardly ever rang and not because we weren't busy, we were doing hundreds of weddings a year, it was because we had everything so systematized and automated that no one needed to call us!  Brides didn't need to call a hundred times to ask questions or make changes, stylists didn't have to bug me day in and day out wondering what their schedule was like or what they should do about a certain situation...they already knew because it was part of our system!

I LOVE business (I think I may have mentioned that - lol)!  I want nothing more than to save my clients from those same sleepless nights that I had!  I want to see them build the business of their dreams and live a life full of freedom and making great money while doing what they love...nothing makes me more happy!  I love structure, which is critical for a successful business and I have a knack for simplifying the complicated and creating systems to help you more efficiently and effectively run your business.  I also know how important it is to get your mind in the right place!  Mindset is such an important component that some business coaches don't address or pay attention to yet it is SO crucial!  If you are running your business or managing your stylists and staff from a place of fear or insecurity, you are doomed!  Not to sound so melodramatic but it's true!  Ok, maybe not doomed but you are certainly going to be dealing with an inordinate amount of unnecessary stress and heartache in your business and in your life!  I don't know everything but I know a lot and the few things that I may not know about business, I am willing to research and study and learn so that I can help you with whatever aspect of your business you need help with!  What I do know for certain is that I truly care about the success and happiness of everyone I work with and I know that I truly hope to have the opportunity to work with you!

Thanks so much and if you ever have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at gina@haircomesthebride.com or give me a call at my office at 800-485-4444.