Entrepreneur builds hair salon into LGBTQ hub

Gerard Ortiz

Downtown salon owner Laura Signore has built an inclusive haven for the Grand Rapids LGBTQ community. 

Located at 25 S. Division Ave., Suite 15, Lilith’s Lair is a desire occur real for proprietor Laura Signore, as properly as team and clientele. 

Signore opened Lilith’s Lair in January 2022 with only 1 other stylist. A minor in excess of a 12 months later on, the lair is bustling with 10 stylists and is looking to broaden operations in 2023. 

Signore, who utilizes they/them or she/her pronouns, graduated from the Douglas J. Aveda Institute, a Grand Rapids attractiveness faculty, in Oct. 2021. She said  realized immediately she needed to open her very own salon. 

“I really joked that I come to feel like COVID may possibly have been a person of the greater items to materialize to me because it kind of kicked me to transform matters,” Signore mentioned. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut her position of perform, Signore was laid off. She produced the selection to use her time to go back again to magnificence college to end the license she started 6 a long time right before. 

Laura Signore. Courtesy Lilith’s Lair

Signore introduced her enterprise program to the Small Small business Association of Michigan (SBAM) and Improve, where by she secured a $10,000 financial loan to jumpstart Lilith’s Lair. 

“Honestly, it was a lot of tough get the job done, but I truly feel like a ton of issues just kind of lined up the way that they had been supposed to,” she claimed. 

Commencing Lilith’s Lair, Signore took to social media to build her community, connecting with the stylists and LGBTQ persons who have aided make her small business what it is. She was vocal on Fb throughout her total opening procedure, sharing her development and asking her followers for suggestions and feed-back on imaginative decisions. 

“I will acknowledge I didn’t really know what I was undertaking,” Signore explained. “So having feed-back from persons and obtaining persons be like, ‘no, do some thing else,’ was eye-opening. It was a great decision.” 

But as she built her organization and created Lilith’s Lair, Signore also observed her share of disbelievers. 

“I have had a large amount of people today that have explained to me that they imagined it was just a unusual strategy that I was going to contain politics in enterprise,” she reported. “And I always just thought that was bizarre since, as a queer individual, I would like to know additional sites that are queer-owned and -welcoming for the reason that I would like to guidance them. I assume that mainly because we sort of took a action to (say), ‘This is us. This is what we’re about, occur on over or hear about it.’ It brought in so lots of persons that have been (indicating), ‘You’re going to area of interest you, and nobody’s going to show up simply because you are preaching to (a) minority group there is not that lots of of them.’ And that is in fact ridiculously untrue.” 

In her 1st 12 months of functions, Signore continued to increase her consumer foundation. Partnering with local nonprofits and charities, showing up at situations this sort of as Grand Rapids Pleasure Pageant and RE(Turn) to the River and web hosting community occasions have helped Lilith’s Lair develop from just a hair salon to an inclusive room. 

“I feel (at) our salon, when you stroll in, you experience more like you’re in a great hangout spot as opposed to a doctor’s office environment,” she explained. “A lot of people today have explained to me that they take pleasure in that they stroll in and there is (decorations) on the partitions or my station is lined in stickers. We just want it to be a lot more of a welcoming position, mainly because at times I believe people are definitely intimidated to go into salons. And we truly really don’t want people today to truly feel intimidated to arrive in in this article.” 

As a LGBTQ-owned and operated business, Signore and the stylists who lease booths at Lilith’s Lair focus on generating a welcoming and imaginative room for them and their clients to express themselves. Signore reported it is critical to her to meet up with the requirements of transitioning or nonbinary purchasers who may truly feel awkward in other spaces. 

“We have had so substantially feedback from the group just (expressing) ‘thank you for opening this area, mainly because I didn’t have anywhere else to go in advance of now,’” she claimed.

In addition to possessing and renting out the constructing, Signore serves as the activities coordinator, social media manager and designer for Lilith’s Lair. 

“I run every thing,” she said.” We really don’t have any workers it is all me. But I like it, and it does not actually experience like operate, to be trustworthy. I am proud of almost everything that we’ve done.”

Signore ideas to grow her operation this 12 months, incorporating a lot more products and services and expanding her community of nonprofits to companion with. She seems ahead to giving again to her West Michigan LGBTQ group, in the very same way it supported her when Lilith’s Lair was only an plan. 

“Every working day I occur in in this article (and) I’m surprised when I stroll in, everybody’s listed here and everybody’s doing the job,” she said. “We’ve genuinely been kind of just picked up by the local community and just been championed by them. So we owe a large amount to all individuals people who support us and inform persons that we’re here.”

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