Have you ever noticed how some women have great eyebrows? It’s not just luck. Those women know where to go. […]
Have you ever noticed how some women have great eyebrows? It’s not just luck. Those women know where to go. And now you do, too! Arch Brow Bar, located in Shrewsbury, New Jersey is the place to go to get great eyebrows. People travel from all over The New York Metropolitan Area (seriously) to get their brows done by the highly trained Browistas . Do yourself a favor and make an appointment with one at Arch. Your face will thank you.
Arch Brow Bar is the brainchild of Melissa Clifton-Bahrs. Her business acumen and creativity has allowed her to hire and train the right people, create a warm and welcoming environment and expand her business over the years. Arch Brow Bar recently won awards in 2014 and 2015 for #1 in Monmouth County for the following 3 categories: eyebrow shaping, body waxing and facials. Clifton-Bahrs has been featured in Red Hot Magazine, NJ Monthly, The Asbury Park Press, and on the WOR Joan Hamberg Show. Because Melissa is a one of a kind business woman, I knew interviewing her would be special. Clifton-Bahrs has gone into depth with her answers and given us great insight into the genesis and success of Arch Brow Bar. Again, please don’t be intimidated by the length of the answers. There is a lot to learn from Melissa Clifton-Bahrs. Interview questions and answers after photo.
How Arch Brow Bar came to be, why I decided to open my own business and where the name came from…
I was always interested in anything to do with art and beauty. Art classes, museums, make up lessons and classes, drawing faces, writing names in glue and sprinkling them with glitter, etc. My plan for college was to go to a design school in NY and my life changed dramatically when my older brother died very tragically in 1994. I no longer had the desire for design school. I needed time to heal. I could take a break and then continue my education later. I finished my Associates at Brookdale Community College while working full time at a car dealership. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but tapped into my business side. Eventually, my creative side needed to come out. I began working part time as a make-up artist while still at the dealership. I loved everything about the salon/ spa environment. I loved working with people and the positive, up-beat environment. I decided to pursue a career in beauty and skin care. Once I earned my Esthetician’s license, I immediately started doing facials and shaping eyebrows at Spa500 in Little Silver. At the time, there was no one to train you how to shape brows. I developed my own technique and my clientele grew right along with my passion. I decided to give up skincare and focus on brows. The timing was right. There were no other brow specialists in Monmouth County and the brow craze was just starting to take off. Everyone wanted an appointment. I was seeing 30 clients a day with a long wait list and I loved it but there was only one of me. I needed help with the overflowing demand and decided to start training people to use my brow shaping techniques. I was a single mom at the time and the thought of opening my own business was really scary. After running through all of the doubts in my head, I took a leap of faith. Arch Brow Bar started in Dr. Manolakakis’ office in 2008 and today we have 10 browistas and a team of 18 amazing women. We are in the process of completing an expansion to make room for our growing team. The name Arch came from brainstorming with my friend and one time neighbor Kim. I wanted a sharp name that wasn’t too feminine sounding. Arch was perfect and Brow Bar defines us.
more of the interview following images
Tell us about yourself .
Tell us about yourself, (this has to be the hardest question. Ugh!) I live in Oceanport with my 17 year old son Alex who is currently a junior at Shore Regional HS and our two Shih Tzu’s (who we are absolutely crazy about) Sofia and Lola. Alex’s dad and I divorced in 2000, and I remarried in 2014. I was widowed one month later when my husband lost his battle with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Despite the fact that Craig was battling cancer, we had an incredible love story that has helped me keep moving forward.
What was your first job experience?
My first job experience was in the Monmouth Mall writing names on Christmas stockings and Santa hats with glue and then sprinkling the glue with glitter. “Oh what fun”… I was fired! I know it wasn’t my lack of ability to work with glue and glitter. I think it was most likely due to the fact that I was an unreliable teenager who decided to call out of work to go skiing with friends.
What most excites you about your work?
I’m excited just thinking about this question… Oh there is so much. These days I find myself most excited about the business itself. Business is ever changing and growing. With fast paced technology there is always something new to learn. I like creating and putting things into action. I’m excited about growing this business with my team and learning new strategies along the way to keep all of us moving forward.
What was your childhood ambition?
I don’t believe I had one. I always knew I wanted to do something artistic.
What was the best career advice someone gave you? What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
I have received lots of advice over the years and it has all been relevant at different times in my career. What stands out to me is a simple concept that every business should adopt; “Add more value than anyone else all of the time” – from Tony Robbins (one of my most favorite teachers). This is constantly in my mind for my clients as well as my team. As a consumer, I think it’s right on and as a business owner, it inspires every move I make. Advice for someone just starting out would be… starting a new business is much like giving birth to your first new baby. It’s going to take constant feeding and nurturing. You will have sleepless nights and few joys, at first. Hang in there and try not to let everything else fall apart. Your baby will have different needs as it grows. Make sure you have a great accountant and, also and very important, read the quote from Tony above. Live it!
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
There are so many and I learn something new everyday. I would phrase it as one of the most important lessons I have learned is to clearly communicate with your team. Over-communicate if necessary. It’s helps everyone understand what is going on and feel informed. That will translate into the energy of your entire business and spread in a positive way.
What do you like most and least about having your own business?
What I like least is playing the game of “Whack-a-Mole”. This is when you are so busy with pop up situations that must be handled immediately that you are not moving forward. What I like the most is having an outlet for my creativity that helps people feel great about themselves and also helps my team have a career that they love. I also love connecting with our clients. I have met so many great friends and wonderful people through my work. People are priceless.
What business books or resources would you recommend to someone starting their own business?
I think you can learn something from any business resource. I would pick someone in your field or a business that you admire and find out what helped them become successful and model them. Another quote from Tony Robbins, “success leaves clues”. Last year I attended Business Mastery by Tony Robbins. He brings the most incredible minds in the business world to share their knowledge with you in his seminar – for example, marketing genius Jay Abraham and business skills teacher Keith Cunningham (whom I love). If you don’t already know them, look them up and learn from them.
What do you like to do when your not working?
After my husband’s passing, my focus became about my son and my business. When I’m not focused there, I enjoy some quiet time at home with Alex, Sofia and Lola and the company of a few close friends. We live close to the beach and I love bringing my girls to the beach off season so they can run free and meet people. I’m pretty boring at the moment and completely at peace with that fact.
Please tell us a random fact or talent about yourself that we would be surprised to know.
Giving back and helping others is as important to me as breathing air, on the smallest and largest of scales.
Melissa, I cannot thank you enough for the obvious effort you put into your answers. My readers and I sincerely appreciate it!
Images courtesy of Arch Brow Bar