RINCON — It seems only natural that a single business wouldn’t be enough to satisfy a set of entrepreneurial identical twins.
Whitney Lipe and Brittney McCord, 31, have decided to add to their successful enterprise. On Aug. 21, they will open Mirror Image Boutique. It will be located directly above Mirror Image Hair Salon at 290 S. Columbia Ave.
“My sister and I always have bright ideas,” Lipe said with a laugh. “One day she was just like, ‘Let’s try to open a boutique!’ We talked to customers about it and they were like, ‘Yeah. That would be a great idea.’
“While we are getting processing, the kids are getting a haircut or whatever, we can go up there and take a look, and shop and stuff.’ The customers did push us to do it because they thought it was a great idea as well.”
The boutique’s inventory will include jewelry, handbags and clothing.
“It will be unique things that you don’t see at just any store,” Lipe said. “We try to stand out as a salon and we will try to as a boutique.”
The sisters pamper their customers by offering them with courtesy and refreshments. Their efforts resulted in the salon winning the Savannah Morning News’ 2020 Best of the Best Contest. It is a finalist for the honor again this year.
“We’ve heard from other clients that we are very welcoming,” Lipe said. “All of our girls are that way. We are like a family.”
Lipe and McCord are as close as can be in looks but vary considerably in other ways.
“She went to hair school right out of high school, at 17,” Lipe said. “After about two years, she came to me and said, ‘Are you going to be a stay-at-home mom for the rest of your life?’”
McCord was quick to point out their differences.
“Whitney is more of a girly girl and I’m more outgoing and outdoorsy,” she said. “We look alike, obviously, but we have two totally different personalities when it comes to our interests. Our interests here are the same but they are not when it comes to our hobbies.”
McCord persuaded Lipe to attend cosmetology school. She even signed her up and paid her registration fee.
“I graduated and started working with her at another salon,” Lipe said. “We went our separate ways for awhile and then she came to me and said, ‘Let’s open up our own salon.’”
Mirror Image Hair Salon has grown to include nine stylists, including the sisters. It featured just three when it opened in 2017 in a building directly across the street from where it is now.
“We were only there for about two years,” Lipe said. “We realized after one year that we were outgrowing it. We had grown to five stylists and we were packed in there.”
The sisters intend to add two employees to operate the boutique.
“We already have two girls in mind that we are talking to right now,” Lipe said.
There are no plans to add more stylists, she added.
“We just hired our ninth girl,” Lipe said. “She doesn’t start until August 9. She just reached out to us.
“We haven’t hard a hard time (finding stylists) because they see our reviews. We had a girl reach out a few weeks ago but we don’t have the space for her. We are maxed out.”
Two stylists who worked upstairs are having their booths moved downstairs to make room for the boutique.
Lipe and McCord are hopeful that the boutique will grow but they have decided to start small.
“Depending on how it goes, we will expand it,” Lipe said.
The sisters’ decision to become business owners was prompted by a shared desire to not pay a booth rental fee to a salon owner. They thought it made more sense to work totally for themselves.
“It was like $170 a week we were giving to other people,” McCord recalled. “We knew we could pay our own rent (for a building).”
Lipe is grateful that her sister coaxed her into business ownership.
“If it wasn’t for (McCord), we wouldn’t be where we are today because she pushed me to do hair,” Lipe said. “She has the bright ideas and we work together to make it happen.”
Their success hasn’t come easily. They had to shut down for a few days recently because of a severe water leak.
The COVID-19 shutdown also presented a major challenge last year. The salon was shut down for six weeks because of an emergency declaration.
“That was scary,” Lipe said. “We didn’t know how long we were going to be closed. I kept waiting for an email, a phone call or a news thing that said hair salons could open back up.”
Mirror Image Hair Salon specializes in haircuts, formal styling, coloring, facial waxing, hair extensions and make-up services. Its serves men, women and children.
The salon is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays. The boutique hours will be the same.
Lipe and McCord’s oldest of two brothers came up the name for their salon long before it became a reality.
“We never thought it would happen but, one day, in 2017, it did,” Lipe said.
Lipe and McCord considered different names for their boutique but opted to stay with Mirror Image.
“We thought about Replica Boutique,” McCord said. “We wanted something to go with double, something to go with Mirror Image but not exactly Mirror Image. We went on and on about but we decided to stick with Mirror Image Boutique.
“We just changed the logo a little bit with the two girls looking at each other.”
The sisters will host an Aug. 21 grand opening for the boutique from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.. A ribbon cutting led by the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce will also be conducted for the salon and boutique that day.
“I’m handling all the grand opening stuff and Brittney is handling the opening of the boutique,” Lipe said. “We each have our part.”