Dolly Norris, Cost Cutters of Madison Inc.
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Dolly Norris, vice president of operations, Cost Cutters of Madison Inc.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
The most rewarding aspect of my position is the honor of working with such an incredible team of talented people at Cost Cutters. I love getting to know our team members and learning about their lives, including their families, goals, and aspirations. What I truly enjoy most is being part of the process of coaching and developing our stylists throughout their careers into management roles. We teach them the importance of a great guest experience and to make sure they pass that along to each stylist in their salons. Also in these roles, we want them to learn the business and numbers side of the beauty industry. It is important for them to understand how every thing we do in our salons affects business in the short and long term. We help them understand profit and loss statements, how to manage cost of goods, and proper merchandising techniques. The most challenging aspect of my role is balancing personal and work life. I love what I do so much that I tend to spend much of my day in the office or in the salons. I need to allow myself more time to live a healthier, balanced lifestyle.
Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
The person I admire most in business was an entrepreneur by the name of Joe Francis from St. Paul, Minnesota. Joe started with a one-chair barbershop around the 1960s. He later pioneered a group of barber shops called The Barbers Hairstyling for Men, which eventually he decided to franchise. This was the first franchise of its type in the hair care industry. Joe grew his company to include multiple barber schools and over 1,000 franchised salons with over 24,000 employees across America and Europe. What I find truly inspiring is the many opportunities that The Barbers Corporation provided to women. They opened the doors to the first woman to own a barber school, as well as enrolling the first woman into the barber program in the Midwest. One third of their franchisees were women and the Barbers Corporation was recognized for having the most women on a board of directors in a publicly traded company. In the 1980s, Joe introduced the Cost Cutters concept, which revolutionized the industry by offering value-priced, no-appointment-necessary haircuts in a family-friendly environment. A few years after his death, The Regis Corp. and The Barbers franchise merged to become the largest group of hair salons in the world with over 10,000 salons. Without Joe’s vision many of us in the beauty industry would not have the opportunities we have today.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
Becoming vice president of operations for the Cost Cutters of Madison group is definitely the high point of my career. I actually started with Cost Cutters of Madison in 2002 as a cosmetology apprentice. I eventually became a salon manager and after a few years I went to work for Regis Corp. as an area supervisor. Eventually I went back to school, became a cosmetology instructor, and taught at a Madison college. In 2013, I met with Bill Kaminski, the owner of Cost Cutters of Madison and came on board as a district manager. In late 2016, I was promoted to vice president of operations. Coming back to Cost Cutters of Madison and leading the operations team and over 30 salons in the Madison area has really brought my career full circle. It truly felt like I was coming back home.
Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
I would tell my 21-year-old self that life is short, don't doubt yourself, learn something from every single person you meet, be empathic, do more things that make you happy, be kind to a stranger everyday, don't hold grudges, remove toxic people from your life quickly, and live the one life you have exactly how you want it with no regrets.
What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?
Working in Dane County has been pretty incredible. The sense of community is strong, and the people and businesses of Dane County show so much support for each other. It’s like living in a small town in the middle of a beautifully diverse city. The blend of the two makes Dane County the amazing and absolutely unique place that it is.
Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?
I like to think of myself as a talented in the kitchen. I enjoy cooking and making meals for family and friends. I grew up in a very traditional Serbian household, and as a child, my mother started teaching me all of our family recipes. I am very thankful to her that I know how to make most of the foods found in my culture.
What are your guilty pleasures?
My guilty pleasure is music. I enjoy almost every type, including country, rap, pop, and 80s love ballads. Sometimes I throw in some Metallica or Nirvana for good measure. You can find me on almost any day, driving down the Beltline with the radio turned up as loud as it goes, singing like I'm performing for an audience of thousands.
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