Marilyn Ihloff an Entrepreneurial Gem in Tulsa

Contributing Writer

NEW AT HYATT REGENCY: The Ihloff Salon and Day Spa has expanded to downtown Tulsa’s Hyatt Regency Hotel. Celebrating the opening during an event in June are, from left, Barbara Hasbini, Amanda Viles, Marilyn Ihloff and Kate Cottrill. Ihloff also has locations in Utica Square, South Tulsa and Norman.

GTR Newspapers photo

Entrepreneur, successful businesswoman, and devoted wife and mother, Marilyn Ihloff is a crowning jewel in Tulsa’s business crown. Ihloff, founder and president of Ihloff Salon and Day Spa, opened her business in 1980. Using a home equity loan combined with talent, Ihloff established a business recognized in each year from 1998-2016 by Salon Today as one of the 200 fastest growing salons in the nation. Ihloff Salons and Day Spas are also regularly voted “Best of Tulsa” by readers of all of Tulsa’s leading publications.

Prior to starting her own company in 1980, Ihloff worked for 10 years at the prestigious Miss Jackson’s in Utica Square. When asked why she struck out on her own, she says, “I was very happy at Miss Jackson’s and I remain close to my boss, Eric, from those days, but Sassoon had changed everything and I wanted to have a salon focused on education, serving the career woman, and be able to do men’s grooming.”

Ihloff established her Aveda partnership because of her mentor Edwin Neill’s influence. “Edwin distributed Aveda to the Southeast quadrant of the U.S. He loved salon owners and wanted to be a partner in education and the growth of my business. He was my mentor and truly changed my life.” Neill passed away in 2004 but Ihloff thinks of him often. “With him came Aveda and as I learned more and more about the company and its commitment to the planet and sustainability, I became a true advocate and doubt there is anything that would cause me to leave them. Aveda salons are measurably the most successful ones in the country. Each year well over half the Salon Today 200 Fasted Growing Salons in America are Aveda.”

Since 1980, the operation has indeed grown steadily. Ihloff says, “We started with six hairstylists and three nail technicians. Today we have a team approaching 150 and served 82,000 guest appointments in 2015.” Ihloff Salon and Day Spa currently employs 145 team members and has three Tulsa locations, Utica Square, South Memorial, Ihloff at the Hyatt, and a fourth in the Brookhaven Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

When asked what her company’s key strengths are, Ihloff says, “Our culture is built around five values: teamwork, excellence, wellness, learning and sustainability. We do our best to live these values and all company policies and decisions are made with them in mind.” She adds, “Another strength is our amazing team, many of whom have been with us for over 20 years. Our managers genuinely care about the team and strive to help them grow. We also have benefits, which many other salons do not offer, such as healthcare and 401k retirement plans.”

Ihloff explains the successful partnership’s business model: “Aveda has a set of standards and, if the salon meets these standards, it is allowed to carry the full line. Ihloff locations are all Aveda Lifestyle locations which means we carry only Aveda and have a retail center which maintains Aveda schematics and displays on Aveda furniture. A Salon Development Partner lives in Tulsa and visits weekly to assist in any way and to assure Aveda standards are being met.”

Celebrating 36 years of “bringing balance and beauty to life,” Ihloff Salon and Day Spa is nationally renowned for its commitment to the environment, the Tulsa community and their clients’ well-being. Ihloff is designated Aveda Lifestyle Salon & Spa – devoted to bringing clients back to balance with products and services based on Aveda’s pure flower and plant essences.

There are no current plans for expansion since the Hyatt Regency location in downtown opened in June. Ihloff says that the focus is on developing the full potential of the new location. “The hotel has been a wonderful partner to us, and we will together be able to really grow and develop the business and the area it serves,” she says.

When asked about the key advice she would give in order to achieve a successful business career, the “must-dos,” Ihloff says, “Believe in yourself, learn something every day, connect with your industry and your community, and look for a mentor!”

About Marilyn Ihloff
In 2007, Ihloff was awarded the Small Business Person of the Year by the Tulsa Regional Chamber and went on to win the award at the state level. In April 2008, Ihloff represented the state of Oklahoma at the national Small Business Association competition in Washington D.C. She serves on the Tulsa Public Schools Bond Development Committee, the Board of Sustainable Tulsa, the Board of the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce and is the 2016 chair of Mosaic, the Chamber’s Diversity and Inclusion group. On a national level, Ihloff has served on the board of the Professional Beauty Association, the American beauty industry’s trade association and is a member of Intercoiffure America.

She graduated from Nowata High School and in 2014 was inducted to the Nowata High School Hall of Fame and Bartlesville Beauty College. She attended the University of Oklahoma and graduated with a B.S. in Finance from the University of Tulsa.

Ihloff holds a strong commitment to the community and the environment and was honored Sustainable Tulsa’s Partner of the Year and the Tulsa Zoo’s “Earth Day Hero” for her efforts in making Tulsa and the world a greener place. Each year, the salon celebrates Earth Month along with other Aveda salons around the globe. Ihloff raises money for local, regional, and global Earth partners. The Ihloff Fall Show has benefited Resonance, the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa, and currently the Tulsa Girls Art School.

Ihloff is married to Greg Bledsoe. She has two sons, Ben (Sharla) and Will (Jillian), who with their wives, have produced seven grandchildren.

Updated 10-13-2016

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