Many small businesses begin with a dream. Wild Ivy's & Karma Couture began with two.
The business is a conversion of two entities, each inspired by the passion of their owners, Ivy Cordell and Donna Brooks, and began separately in different locations.
Ivy Cordell is a cosmetologist who specializes in hair and nails and has been perfecting her craft for nearly 20 years. She opened her salon, Wild Ivy, seven years ago on Ponce de Leon Boulevard where she immediately began building a clientele that has remained loyal.
Donna Brooks started selling gifts, accessories and handbags out of her house while maintaining full-time employment. It was a side business she learned after working for years with Joe and Donna Giarratana, owners of Papa Joe's Italian Restaurant, developing such a tight bond with them and assisting them in running their gift shop.
"They introduced me to the wholesale market and taught me the trade," Brooks remembered.
She eventually expanded her business to a small room inside another local salon. Called the Hidden Closet, Brooks began building a client base that loved her quality products and unique styles. She offered wholesale prices on unique gifts, accessories and jewelry pieces, which she sold in a traditional retail environment while also doing parties and special events upon request.
In December, the two women decided to merge their businesses into one unique, cozy beauty salon and boutique. They chose a quaint downtown shop on Main Street, bringing a creative concept to the heart of Brooksville's historical business sector.
Inside, guests are greeted with the boutique-style décor, flashy and catchy patterns and tropical and bold colors of handbags, makeup bags and totes; jewelry pieces; candles; and so much more.
In the back of the store, Ivy and her beauty staff work on client's nails, from acrylics to gel applications, hair styling, perms, color treatments, etc.
"We are a full-service salon," Cordell said.
Both women are long-time residents of Hernando County whose hearts belong to their community. Therefore, both are big into giving back.
Brooks has a soft spot for cancer support, triggered by the diagnosis of breast cancer a few years ago of a dear friend. Last year in April she coordinated a benefit for breast cancer awareness, collaborating with a local artist to create a T-shirt design, and held an open house at her previous location.
The artist, Crystal Buck, designed an image of an elegant, wispy spirit with a gentle ribbon of pink. The image was put onto T-shirts by Island Tees and Graphics, along with the slogan, "Believe in a Cure."
A copy of that original design still hangs in Texas Roadhouse on Cortez Boulevard and has made its way across the country.
The money raised helped support breast cancer research and treatment options for local residents.
This year, on the anniversary of that event, she and Cordell were busy preparing for the second annual Blueberry Festival. But Brooks still envisioned another T-shirt by the same artist in collaboration.
This one, depicting a similar image but of an angel, would support all cancers by including the different rainbow of colors in support.
The new shirt was debuted during an event both Brooks and Cordell held to support all cancers as well as an effort that is dear to Cordell's heart that collects, packs and mails gift boxes by request to a special force of the military serving overseas.
The event, held earlier this month, raised money to help pay for the postage for gift boxes for the troops and brought awareness to all cancers.
A major factor leading to the success of any small business, particularly during a slowed economy, is its ability to be creative.
Ivy Cordell and Donna Brooks combined two very creative industries into one, providing a cohesion that only magnifies their commitment to their customers who live, work and play in their community.
How they display their unique presence in the community with beautiful, affordable gifts and grounded beauty care services, while combined with a commitment to paying it forward, makes them a dynamic team.