Fringe Salon Spa owner finds purpose in her passion

By the time Tamara Brown, owner of Fringe Salon Spa, decided to strike out on her own after more than a decade in cosmetology, she was ready. “I didn’t want to just go into this as a job,” she said. “I wanted a career.” Her mother and grandmother were both licensed stylists, and Brown had always had a passion for hair.

She attended college for two years thinking she’d become a lawyer before realizing her heart remained with cosmetology. Once she and her husband moved from East St. Louis to Madison, Brown set out to determine the “smartest route” to her dreams, studying the pros and cons of the business, seeking the advice of UW’s Small Business Development Center, and earning her license through Capri College of Cosmetology.

“This business has forced me to be bold and courageous again.” — Tamara Brown

She enjoyed a long career as a Madison stylist before contemplating her move. With her business plan in hand, she and a friend drove to Milwaukee to present it to the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. board, and she was told the decision could take a couple of days.

“So we went to eat at the Cheesecake Factory by Mayfair Mall. Our order hadn’t even been delivered yet when my phone rang. They said I had been approved for the full amount! I screamed,” she laughed.

Brown opened Fringe Salon Spa on Park Street in 2010, and the $50,000 loan she received that day will be paid off in April.

She’s learned to be more patient with herself since opening the business. “I had a huge vision and astronomical goals and I wanted everything quickly. I was really pushing everyone around me to go quickly.”

In 2013, she moved to her current location on South Gammon Road. Walk-ins, she said, have increased, many Park Street clients have followed her west, and she’s approaching things more realistically now. She has four employees and is looking to hire more full- and part-time workers. She is also pleased to be able to offer employees a 401(k) and a health care package.

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Brown, 44, has used her life experiences to her advantage. She developed a special relationship with Meriter Hospital staff after the births of her three children. Now, through an arrangement with the hospital, Fringe Salon Spa provides manicures, pedicures, haircuts, and styling to longer-term Meriter patients, such as expectant mothers.

“A hospital is typically not a comfortable place to be,” Brown says, and she’s pleased that her company can provide some personal pampering to patients who simply call and book ahead.
It’s a win-win for everyone, but Brown would like to expand the service to all hospitals everywhere. “That speaks to a legacy, and that’s something I’d love to see,” she said.

A victim of sexual assault, Brown is proud of her decision to break through the darkness of her memories. “It is not easy,” she admits. “But I realized that I had a choice. That situation made me feel that I needed to live a victim life, but I’ve chosen not to.”

Fringe Salon Spa has been the panacea she needed.

“Growing up, I was bold and courageous, but that changed after being abused, and I drew back. This business has forced me to be bold and courageous again.”

Fringe Salon Spa
654 S. Gammon Road, Madison, WI 53719
(608) 257-4247 | fringesalonofmadison.com