Almost four years ago, Jill Hutchison became the first tenant at Parkway Centre in Clinton when she rented 1,600 square feet for her hair salon.
Recently, the 32-year-old Hutchison expanded her business, Jillian’s, which not only does hair for men, women and children, but offers personal services like manicures, pedicures and massages.
Hutchison moved from her original space at one end of the shopping center to the other for the additional space that totals 3,000 square feet.
She also leased 1,000 adjoining square feet for a trendy boutique, Envy. The boutique, which opened in early March, has clothes for girls and women from 10-40.
“I’m very proud of her. She works hard,” said Mike Peters of Jackson, a well-known developer who owns Parkway Centre.
Peters said when he was getting ready to open his shopping center, he heard Hutchison was interested in becoming a tenant. At the time, she had her business in another Clinton location. Peters went to see her and found “she had a vision.”
“We made a deal,” he said.
“Mike Peters is the best landlord I could ever imagine. I think he believed in me. He kept me going,” said Hutchison.
When she moved to Parkway Centre, Hutchison had one employee. By May, she expects to have nine employees. Envy has seven employees.
Is it hard being a woman in business? “It’s hard having a business,” said Hutchison, the mother of three.
She has enjoyed success because “I build such a rapport with my customers, many of whom are longtime.”
Hutchison has not had to borrow money to get her business started. Instead, she found private financial backing and worked hard to save money. “I saved enough money to run my business for three months,” said Hutchison.
She said, “I’m very humbled. If God, my family and Mike Peters hadn’t been behind me, I wouldn’t have succeeded..”
Her husband, Chip, a builder, tries to stay out of the business, but he did help build her expanded space. “He’ll tell me if he thinks something is a good or bad idea,” said Hutchison.
She employs a high school student to help with her children. Her mother-in-law, Esther Hutchison, who was in the hair business, also helps.
Hutchison opened Envy, because “I have a lot of new girls coming to work.”
She said having the boutique attracts more customers to her hair salon. Customers can enter Envy through Jillian’s or by a separate entrance.
She offers gift certificates to Jillian’s with purchases at Envy. “Clinton has opened its arms to Envy. It’s been great,” said Hutchison.
Customers come from Clinton, Madison and Brandon as well as out of state for Hutchison’s services. “My clientele is phenomenal. I have one customer who comes from Louisiana for eyelash extensions,” she noted.
One friend of hers moved to Colorado, but still comes back to Jillian’s, whenever possible.
An early start
Hutchison started working at age 15, and credits her father, Bruce Spratlin of Raymond, who raised her to be “a really hard worker.”
“He ran a route for Little Debbie,” she said.
In 1999, she took over an existing hair salon business, Head To Toe. In 2000,Hutchison renamed the business, Jillian’s. A customer thought of the name, Jillian, for the business. It was a name Hutchison had been called by relatives as a child.
She went to night school her senior year in high school to learn how to do nails. “Instead of doing parties, I was in night school. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t want to work for minimum wage,” said Hutchison.
Hutchison attended Hinds Community College and Mississippi College, and was two and a half years away from getting an education degree. She worked for awhile with her mother-in-law while dating her husband-to-be.
Within the past year, Stefanie Gnade has become Hutchison’s business partner.
“I want to help others get started,” said Hutchison.
Gnade said, “I had worked for her three years, and I got the opportunity to be her partner last November.”
“I’m learning a lot from her. She’s good at marketing. She’s a good businesswoman. She’s young and she’s fun,” said Gnade.
Hutchison thinks “this is it for expansions” of Jillian’s. She said, “I’d like to see Envy grow and expand. I’ve already had someone want to put one in Orange Beach, Ala.”
She has advice for other women thinking about going into business.
“If you can’t manage the business by yourself, you’d better be sure you have some good help,” she said.
Jillian’s opens from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Envy opens from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.
The business is located at 709 Clinton Parkway. For more information about Jillian’s or Envy, call (601) 925-0336..