Suzette Audia



Plainedge High School

When Suzette Audia began her career as a hairstylist, she wanted nothing to do with running her own business. But it didn’t take long for Suzette, who felt that so many owners were getting it all wrong, to believe she could do it better. With that in mind, Suzette struck out on her own and opened her very own salon, The Hair Design Group, in 1992.

But Suzette’s passion for quality hairstyling and client experience didn’t stop at the salon. Acutely aware that many hair care products were all fluff and pretty packaging, she developed her own line that she could stand behind. Now, whether it's in the salon or through her products in the home, Suzette takes pride in holistically serving her clients’ needs. And while we love Suzette’s strong work ethic and her dedication to her customers, we also love her "work hard and play just as hard” attitude. As Suzette asserts, “Embrace your youth; it goes faster than the speed of light.”

Take a vacation from work; it’s cheaper than therapy and a lot more fun.

What responsibilities come with owning and managing your own hair care line?

The products have to be fabulous and they have to stand out from every other product on the market. I also have to know everything about each ingredient that I put into every product. These ingredients have to be top-notch and perform well. Additionally, my products are different from most because they promote healthy hair growth, not just “good looking hair” for a moment in time. The key ingredient is emu oil, which you won't find in many shampoos or conditioners, because it's quite expensive. My shampoo and conditioner -- along with the rest of the line -- are incredible products that are made to my exacting standards and work extremely well. Standing behind all that goes into my products makes me proud.

Keeping up with the packaging is also time-consuming: each bottle's individually "blinged" so it adds a distinctive touch and makes it unique compared to other products in the market.

How did you decide that starting your own business was right for you?

Oh my God. I wanted nothing to do with running my own business; it was the furthest thing from my mind in the beginning. However, watching other owners run a business really got to me. I felt I could do it better. I wanted to give my clients the best possible experience; from when they stepped into the salon to when they left my chair.

So in 1992, I ventured out to run my own business. And 20 years later, I have a very successful operation where my clients and their experience is the top priority. Plus, I get to work with my friends all day long. It's awesome.

What is your favorite part of the job?

When a client comes in unhappy and leaves on top of the world because of our service! I've often said that the saying, "Beauty is skin deep" is so mistaken. We're all judged and measured by what we see on the outside. Like it or not, decisions are based on our appearance; jobs are won and lost and lives are changed. You have to get the outside right so you can feel good about the inside; when you look good, you feel good, right? And when I do that for a client -- making the outside equal to the inside -- it makes me feel amazing.

What challenges keep you awake at night?

None, really! I believe a hard day's work is a challenge in itself. If you believe enough in your dream, then it will fall into place when the timing is right.

Is work/life balance ever a problem with you?

No. I work very hard, but my career is very social, so they mix well together. When not in the salon, I play just as hard. I love to stay active and I love to be around my friends.

Was there ever a moment in your career when you thought you've made it?

Yes. Two times. The first was in '89, when the director of education for Matrix Hair Essentials asked me to join their color team. I felt as if I had just won an Academy Award. It changed my life and increased my knowledge of hair color 100 percent. I owe my expertise to that man and the company -- thank you Van!

The second time was when I opened up my hair care line brochure and saw my work in print. Wow! It was an incredible feeling.

What are some of the rules you live by?

Believe in God every step of the way.
Never lose sight of who you are.
When you lay your head down at the end of the day, be absolutely sure God loves and appreciates everything you did.
Take a vacation from work; it’s cheaper than therapy and a lot more fun.
Pay it forward every day.

What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?

My profession is the only profession licensed to touch. It makes most people feel uncomfortable at first. However, if you learn to communicate, touch people, empathize and most importantly pay attention, then you have accomplished 75 percent of my industry. The technical part is easy.

What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old?

Embrace your youth; it goes faster than a speed of light. Save your money. Also, be kind to your parents. They have a tough job!

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Speaking on a stage in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of women; empowering them to do even more with their lives and teaching them to give back.