We had the good fortune of connecting with April Hicks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi April, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think every decision I have made in my career has been a risk in some way. Right out of high school I was not sure what I was going to do as a career. I did not bother applying for college, I knew my mother could not afford to pay for it, financial aid was not an option, and I knew I couldn’t qualify for loans. As a result, I enrolled in the local community college and just took whatever classes that I could get because as an incoming student, classes were full for new students. After a semester of general education, while standing in the quad I looked through the course catalog and came across cosmetology. Looking back at that moment, which I still remember where I was standing. The class was open, and cosmetology is one of the courses of study that is always full. I had some degree of natural talent at doing hair but who knew that moment lead me into a career of over 30 years.
I had three relatively successful career decision that were made in what seem like a moment. One of those careers was a cosmetology instructor. While having a conversation with a client, I talked about how I was donating my services to a local women’s shelter, providing hair care services. I had a grand idea to try to teach the women in the home a skill (cosmetology) that they might be able use once they finished their program in the facility. I knew I had enough experience to teach, but had no formal teaching knowledge, which I knew was a different skill. I called my local community college to see if they had a program specific teaching cosmetology. As luck would have it, they did, the session was starting in two weeks, and they had 4 available spots. I enrolled immediately! It was a yearlong commitment and I had to spend 20 hours a week in the program. I finished the program within the year long time frame and passed with an A. I then realized during my time in the program the idea of teaching in the facility was not going to happen. There is a lot of red tape involved so I gave up on that idea. Although, I knew I was not going to teach in the home, I started to entertain the idea of teaching at my local college. While in my teachers training program, I had gained the attention of the current cosmetology director, she said when there was an opening, she would hire me. At the time I knew I could not be hired without a degree, a BA, or Associates degree. I did not have either, so what did I do? I enrolled in my local community college, and within a 3- or 4-year period I received my Associates degree. I was graduating that June but received a call from my former director at the Cosmetology school to see if I had gotten my degree yet because they were hiring. I got the job. It was good timing, the economy had started to fall, and my business had slowed down some. I started teaching and realized how fortunate I was, those jobs are extremely hard to get.
My third and current risk, I opened a clothing boutique about 4.5 years ago. I have always loved fashion and I felt like it was an extension of the career I was still in. The space next-door to my salon became available, and someone suggested that I expand the salon. I thought, no way! I was already sort of tired of dealing with stylists coming and going, theft, and all the things that come with owning a salon. I did however think, maybe a boutique. I had a little area in my salon that I put a rack and some shelves where sold some accessories, and mainly t-shirts and tops. It started with a client of mine who worked in a showroom in downtown LA, she would bring in her samples and we would split the profit. She eventually moved away, and I lost her as a contact. I had some retail experience and had taken some fashion merchandising classes at my local community college. I was having a conversation with my daughter about it, still feeling apprehensive, but I started to investigate the possibilities. I did the research, spoke to my landlord, and while walking into a Floor and Decor I got a text from my daughter with a link attached to it. I thought to myself, she knows I do not have time to look at anything, but I opened it anyway! It was a Mariah Carey song “Make it Happen,” I was overcome with emotion as soon as I heard it, and new I was supposed to open what’s now April Blooms.
So, you ask about risks, in a way I think almost every career decision I have made was a risk and a divine appointment. I believe that God orders our steps we just must be open and have the courage to move in the direction that He is prompting. I am not going to say any of it was easy but worth it! All of this I did while being a wife, a mother, and continued to run a fulltime hair salon. I taught for 10 years, I quit just before the pandemic hit, because I wanted to focus on running and building my boutique. It is my desire to have the boutique be my only career at this point in my life. Until the boutique reaches the level of success I hope for, I will continue to own and operate my salon.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My business is a women’s clothing, accessory, and gift boutique. I opened my business, not just to make money, but to encourage women of all ages, sizes, and ethnicity to embrace who they are. We all have room for improvement but I have encouraged women to love who they are right now, and make improvements as necessary. I don’t advocate body shaming, or speaking in a negative way about my own body just to make someone justified in their body shaming. My clothing was inspired by Mom’s who seem to give up on themselves after marrying and having children.. The items I sell are mostly comfortable stylish clothing that can be worn to soccer games, play dates, or date night. I want all women to feel good about what they put on their bodies. After owning a hair salon for over 20 years, I realize the impact a new hair style, new clothing article can do for a boost in self esteem. Most people can come in feeling one way and leave completely restored. The challenges I have had is marketing, and getting my mission and purpose known. I have learned that owning a business is constant, not much if at all any down time. I believe my brand and story is worthy of continuing the steep climb to success.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
In general I love to be out doors. I enjoy a hike, a day at the beach, or better yet a nice jazz or music event outdoors. Our day would start with a hike, probably in the local mountains, or beach. Then we would go to brunch anywhere at the beach, and later that evening for a full day, we would find a music venue to attend.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are a few people I owe a shoutout, one is my husband who supported me, my daughter who told me in the beginning to “make it happen”, my best friend who has been a constant support, through shopping at my store, helping me without asking for in store events, and a listening to my frustrations. I also would like to mention Rachel Rogers for her words of wisdom, and encouragement for us all to be millionaires.