I recently sat down with Shari Phillips, owner and creative mind behind Per Se Aveda Lifestyle Salonspa, for our March Runitlikeamom interview. Well to be honest, I sat down so she could cut my hair and give it a much-needed nourishing treatment and glaze…AND to ask her some questions. Basically, we were both multi-tasking, something this beautiful woman has become a pro at over the course of the past forty years as a business owner and mother. From building Per Se from the ground up (she literally threw paint and acid on the cement floor to get the color just right), to raising three children (two of whom she adopted), to raising money for various charitable causes, this lady has had her hand in everything. And thank goodness! For where else could I sit among beautiful paintings, artistic trees constructed by hand while breathing in the smell of essential oils and enjoying great conversation with inspirational company? Yea, I’m pretty sure there isn’t anywhere else like it either.
Shari’s Runitlikeamom Run-Down:
* I have three adult children Kevin, Amber, and Susan…and I have two older grandchildren, two boys.
* I am an owner who works behind the chair of a salon and spa. I work both sides. I run my business with the assistance of a manager, and I have another salon that my husband runs so I’m limited with what I have to do there. Mostly I’m at this one, overseeing/corporately making decisions.
* Probably for my age and considering my health issues (I have lupus, fibromyalgia and scleroderma), I would have to say I’m in very good shape. My staff thinks I outrun them.
* Until 2 years ago I was really big into Pilates, and then my muscles wouldn’t allow me to do that anymore, and now I work with pain management. My goal is to stay limber and to keep forging through and staying ahead of it and I do that mentally and emotionally. The only pain management I do is through the hospital with injections. I don’t take any other types of medication, and I do it with food. So, keeping myself balanced is a goal. Years ago I was given advice by a world-renowned specialist in the field of rheumatology who said to me,
“I can tell you to go to support groups and all of that, but the best thing you can do for yourself is to get up and get moving and don’t go down until your body takes you down.”
It has been the best advice emotionally and physically.
* Funny things my kids said or did…well, my kids were quite a handful…we were friends with a family of eleven children…so we were constantly running. I couldn’t give you the cute little wonderful sayings, because those weren’t my kids. We were known as the rough house.
* If I were stranded on an island with my kids I would bring my favorite t-shirt from Woodstock, the quilt I handmade for my kids, and a Bible.
* Favorite indulgence? My husband (said without hesitation, *swoon*)
Can you tell me about how you got started here?
I built this from scratch, with metal beams…The owners of Blueback wanted an Aveda presence and they approached us. Originally I said no, and then they and my husband convinced me that we could do this. Before Blueback was anything, we started on the design.
I designed the entire thing and the architects worked to build it…Many things are original – the pedicure room has no motors, all of the beds and benches are extra deep. Everything is designed to be quiet…We have our birch wall, and birch tree in there, and oak in here. Every ounce of everything, I oversaw…It has become like home.
Do you have a background/experience in design?
None, just a passion.
So you started your other business (Matthew Phillips Salon) with your husband, but then you have this. How was it different? It seems like this really became yours.
This ended up being my baby. Originally we thought we would be flipping back and forth, but this became an animal unto itself. It was an educational experience that happened every day.
How has this lead into the other aspects of your life? You always seem to be working on/involved with something else.
I think it’s given us all here an opportunity to get involved with the community on a charitable level (big time), and that’s been a blessing. To take here with one hand and then to give it back in some proportion with the other is a gift in itself…We have been able to connect with cancer patients, people in the service…Everything we do we try to tie it back to our community.
What was it like being a business owner with young children, especially given that you didn’t see a lot of other moms like yourself (working outside of the home)?
In the 1980’s mothers who did work were known as “super moms,” and it wasn’t necessarily a positive reference. More like “Oh, she’s a super mom – she raises the kids, she takes care of the home, and she has a job. Like, who does that?”
I had 3 kids, a house, a business, and a husband and we travelled for work. It was one of those things where I think as an individual I just always had my own identity and that stuck out for me. It wasn’t so much that I wanted the right to vote or burn my bra or anything – that was my mother’s, my grandmother’s generations- but that attitude as a woman was handed down to me, so that was the only thing that I knew and what I knew I could do. I didn’t know how to do it any other way and I didn’t know that there was a name for it.
Did you have a community of other women to depend on?
All of my girlfriends were stay-at-home moms. The women that I had to depend on were my girlfriends who were all my Woodstock girls. We were all midwives when midwifery wasn’t legal and we were traveling on the road and going to Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut and birthing. These women didn’t go out and work corporate America or run their own businesses. They were still hippie moms that stayed home. I was the one who stepped out of that mold.
It was also interesting in our marriage the way that played out. I remember when we had kids my husband encouraged me to work, but it wasn’t because we needed the paycheck. Years later he would say, “I knew you would never stayed married if you were a stay at home mom.” He saw in me, what I truly needed. He is my biggest supporter, always has been.
Thank you Shari for taking time out of your very busy schedule to share with our Runit community!
And anyone looking for a great salon/spa, do yourself a favor and make an appointment at Per Se. Enjoy the hot tea or lemon water, gaze in wonder at the artistic elements, and get lost in the experience.
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