Of all the titles Anne Zimmer holds, she prefers daymaker. For nearly two decades, Zimmer has been leading a talented and well-educated group of hair stylists and make-up artists that also consider themselves to be daymakers. As Zimmer and her team explain, they are in the business of making their client’s day. They do it by creating a beautiful and positively strong image that can be felt for the rest of their day (and usually much longer) post salon visit. The idea behind the title may come off as simple or unauthentic, but consider the demand for an Avant style session (most require scheduling a month-out to get in for the full cut and color treatment) or listen to the endless array of stories by Anne or her team about the times they’ve changed the direction of a client’s life by doing their magic with a set of shears or product during a sit-down styling session. Think about it, isn’t the best part about a great cut not just how you look afterwards, but also how you feel?
When Zimmer started Avant, she had both the client and the stylist in mind. A successful business operations manager that still manages a dentist office in town, Zimmer has always been a team-building and business prodigy that understands how to bring out the best in people and a situation for the betterment of all involved. “I love building teams and helping them see what is possible,” she says. “I started Avant with that in mind. I knew everyone on our team could achieve more.”
Zimmer now owns two Grand Forks locations including the downtown picturesque facility. She also operates an award-winning salon and spa on Gateway Drive that recently expanded to include more spa offerings. Avant has salon coordinators, stylists, specialists, lead educators and more in its list of job titles.
To create a high-end salon and skin care offering, Zimmer wanted consistent results from a set of products she could trust. Aveda was, and still is, the answer for Zimmer and her team. The Minneapolis-based brand of hair and skin care products is 97 percent natural and offers the type of quality that has put it into the national discussion for hair and make-up. Aveda also provides Zimmer with an element of business she values: education. “The education piece is huge to me,” she says. “It keeps us on the leading edge of the products and services we provide. When we combine the education piece with our take on customer service, we feel confident we can do a great job.”
Aveda provides education seminars in Minneapolis and sends stylists and experts to Grand Forks to explain new trends and techniques. The brand also provides its stylists with a unique website offering tutorials, forums and other assets to help them stay informed on their industry.
Zimmer’s focus is also on creating a team and family atmosphere at Avant. Her daughter and son-in-law each work at Avant. A well-bonded team creates a better outcome for everyone that walks through a business’s door, she says. From flexible schedules when kids are sick to team bonding trips (they did an escape room in Fargo once) or even personality tests to help everyone understand everyone else better, Zimmer is always working to produce a positive work atmosphere.
At certain times, the job of owning and maintaining a high-end salon has been tough, she admits. Zimmer is proud of her perseverance through the norms of business ownership linked to employees leaving, overhead costs unexpectedly changing or the rising price of education for her stylists—something she has never skimped on. The business of hair and make-up has been rewarding, she says thinking back, even if she has the same issue at Avant now that some of her clients still face. “I don’t get in on the schedule when I want as easy as people think!” G
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PHOTOS BY: SUSTAD PHOTOGRAPHY
From Issue 1, 2019