Single Mom Turned Successful Business Woman

Paula Thurman, owner of Shear Madness Haircuts for Kids - Olathe and Leawood. In 1997, Paula Thurman found herself with two kids and a new divorcee status. She had never run a salon, or any other type of business for that matter, but knew plenty of the stresses of entertaining small children, specifically the trials accompanying getting a little one to sit long enough for a routine haircut. Like many famous inventors before her, the light bulb came on, and Paula formulated a plan: She was going to open a children’s salon!
Needing to provide for her children, but having only an idea in-hand, she hired a business consultant and headed to the nearest small business development center. Paula was full of enthusiasm and knew that a lack of experience had never held anyone back before! She channeled all her creative energy, threw herself into overdrive, and began researching everything available to her on running a small business. Her plan: Through trial and error, she would effectively find the perfect combination for a successful business. End Result: Shear Madness™.

Darling Toddler Boy Playing with Dinosaurs

Formula for Business Success

Once she had convinced a local bank to finance her new undertaking, the store was up and running. Having no other children’s salon around, Paula was completely self-taught and relentless. With nothing to copy or mimic, she found the best product was just a result of experimentation. For many years, she added to her business plan, only to take ideas away again. It was through all the ideas that DIDN’T work that she was able to get a formula for success – customers, employees, retail, services! In this business there are many faces from many places, and Paula learned how to recruit and manage hair stylists and receptionists, while discovering the ins and outs of running a business unique to children and their retail wants and needs. It took years to get the perfect combination brewing for all her business successes, but it was only three months in when Shear Madness™ broke even and the company has continued to grow ever since!

Successful Business Woman

The more she added to the pot, the more lucrative the formula became. In fact, finding the perfect combination of shampoos and conditioners was never the extent of it. Add in a few toys, some hair accessories; Throw in shoes, umbrellas; Then toss in some books and games – the recipe was complete! Her experimentation did not go unnoticed, either. The Kansas Small Business Development Center named Shear Madness™ the Existing Business of the Year 2003. Then Paula was chosen the United States Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Small Business Person of the Year 2004 for the Kansas City District. The District Director’s Choice Award was presented to Paula in 2004, and an SBA officer said, “Shear Madness™ is everything a small business should be, and all that a small business would like to become.” Also in 2004, Paula was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE). In 2006, the Kansas City Small Business Monthly recognized Shear Madness™ as one of its “25 Under 25” for being such an outstanding business for so few employees. Then in 2007, Shear Madness™ made it to the Advanced Micro Controls, Inc. (AMCI) Retailer’s Hall of Fame. Finally in 2011, the Kansas City Business Journal nominated Paula for their “Women Who Mean Business” as the Chief Operating Officer (COO). Not a bad start for a single mom with a vision. Paula says her only key to success has been “totally believing in the concept and never giving up.” But it doesn’t hurt that she relentlessly pursues new, innovative ways to bring clients in and help Shear Madness™ grow.

Kids Franchise Opportunity

Eventually, Paula realized she wanted to share this MAD success with others and began franchising. It was once again through trial and error that she was able to find the right balance to owning/operating a business of her own while training/overseeing the development of someone else’s. Just the right set of lab partners, Jim and Janon Otto, came into her life in 2009. Together, by the fall of 2010, the trio were able to see the franchise company advance to its real potential.

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