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Business Spotlight: New Space, Same Tune

Blu Skies Studio relocates but music and art remain major themes in the life of owner Phillip Burmood

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If Phillip Burmood’s younger self had his way, he’d be touring nationally with a drum kit. Or cutting tracks with friends and bandmates.

But business called – and invited his creativity – and Burmood got into the salon industry. Now, he’s cutting hair.

“I was an aspiring musician,” Burmood says. “I still wanted to pursue that type of life – music, arts. In the beauty industry, it just made sense to follow that journey.”

It led to Blu Skies Salon, which started with four business partners in 2007. They formed, quite fittingly, in the Monarch Art Factory downtown.

Burmood put the business plan together and secured the loan – after attempts at 10 banks.

“I was 24 at the time and didn’t really know how to go about starting a business,” he recalls. “It was kind of scary.”

Even though Blu Skies started small – five employees and a few stylist chairs in 1,100 square feet of leased space – the business hit all the right notes and turned a profit that first year.

“We were a diamond in the rough. Thankfully, we had Randy Bacon to help us with his reputation in the arts community,” Burmood says of the professional photographer who created Monarch Art Factory.

The salon has remained in the black financially ever since, says Burmood, who is the front man after the other partners have exited over time. With staff and revenues consistently growing – there are now 20 employees, and 2020 sales finished at $480,000 – Burmood moved Blu Skies this summer to space almost four times as large.

It was important to stay downtown, and he says Realtor Matt Miller of The Closer’s Agency was up to the task.

“The very first building he showed me is the one we’re in,” Burmood says.

Building tenant RSVPaint had closed during the pandemic, and after six months of negotiations with owner Keith Chafin, Burmood had a $750,000 purchase in place for Blu Skies. The deal was financed through Legacy Bank & Trust Co. and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Longtime customer Brent Brown made the move with Burmood.

“There’s a great vibe in that business,” says Brown, who knows local business from his family previously owning Summer Fresh Supermarkets and as current owner of Entrust Property Solutions LLC.

Brown’s been seeing Burmood for haircuts since that first year. Turns out, there are musical connections. Brown’s sister, Summer Trottier, and Burmood were original members of local cover band The Mixtapes before Blu Skies started. And Burmood teaches drums to Brown’s son.

“Now, my whole family goes. I’m an every-three-weeks guy,” Brown says of his $30 cuts.

As business owners, Brown says they often talk shop in the barber chair and outside of the salon. One of those conversations connected Burmood to Scott Tennison at Legacy Bank for the recent loan.

“The building is highly visible there off of Campbell as you enter downtown,” Brown says. “There is parking, which is a rarity.”

Burmood says the 20 parking spaces were among the selling points, as were the lofts upstairs he leases to help cover the mortgage.

The salon occupies about 4,000 square feet. Inside, 16 stylist chairs line the walls, signs and T-shirts announce the slogan “Hair Friend,” and, of course, there’s a small stage for special musical performances. What if old bandmates were to stop by, say, recording artist Jeremy Larson or Todd Gummerman, who’s worked with Mutemath and Twenty One Pilots?

Burmood says less than six months in, it already feels like home.

“We fell in love with the space as soon as we moved in. It’s been great hearing our customers that the vibe is basically the same as the old location, just bigger,” he says.

Burmood describes Blu Skies as a Paul Mitchell-focused salon, and the branded product lines the retail shelves. He says a regional sales director for Paul Mitchell recently stopped in to show their support.

Burmood works with Springfield-based Salon Service Group to order hair care products.

Blu Skies is on track for almost $600,000 in revenue this year, which Burmood says would be a record. He credits the team of 20 employees and the bonds they’ve formed.

Burmood says he strives to create a culture that’s inclusive and supportive of the LGBTQ community.

“We’re a very eclectic group of stylists,” he says, pointing to a mix of atheists, agnostics, Christians and spiritual thinkers. “But we’re all able to enjoy the company of one another and do hair together and lift people up as one.”

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