Business Person Of the Month: Nona Robillard & Kim CallaisMay 15, 2012
Total Body Salon
Nona Robillard &
5172 Corporate Blvd.
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
Via Veneto Total Body Salon’s mission statement is to “Treat others as they want to be treated, not how you think they want to be treated.” They believe a business should “Do the right thing”. They both say, “We’re just Christian women trying to make a living.”
Owners, Nona Robillard & Kim Callais began their careers in the beauty industry more than 30 years ago. Their salon, Via Veneto, opened in 1997 on Corporate Blvd. Most of their current staff has been with them since the salon opened 14 years ago. Via Veneto is a “total body salon” (hair, skin and nails) that offers a family atmosphere for all people – all races, ages; men, women, and children. Kim and Nona are both family oriented people, moms with mortgages, not party people; they like to go home at night and put their feet up.
The salon is a family-like business – often cutting the hair of their loyal customers for the past 30 years. “There’s not much hair left on some heads, but they still come in regularly.” Men, women, and children have grown up with them over the years.
Nona has always been interested in the skin care side of the business. As a young person (teenager) she became interested in skin care and learning all she could about it. She chose Beauty/Cosmetology school to further her knowledge. When the time came to decide on continuing on this career path or choosing college, she was making too much money to quit. Nona worked in other salons/shops until 1997, when she and Kim opened their own business.
While in high school, Kim began looking for a job to earn money for college. She had worked for barber shops and knew how to cut hair so, she went to beauty school to perfect her skills so she could put herself through college. She began LSU studying engineering. When the recession of the 80’s hit, she saw engineers unable to find work while she had a steady income, so she chose beauty over heavy equipment. She often wonders how she would have survived a 9 to 5 desk job since she has trouble sitting still.
Both Nona and Kim travel for the business, attending seminars in the US, Canada, and internationally to keep informed about current trends in the industry, such as skin care protocols and cut, color and wave techniques.
At Via Veneto, the client should always come away feeling good and with a commitment to a new routine, treatment or skin process.
People enjoy destination spas such as those in California that include all day or weekend spa treatments. Today, however, people are cutting back and prefer a la carte services as opposed to day long treatments. Kim and Nona saw that the Baton Rouge industry was leaning this way, so they adapted their services for those who don’t want to stay all day, but would rather come in for a specific treatment.
The business climate in Baton Rouge is not the same as it was 30 years ago. Most beauty salon businesses do not feel the recession as much as other “fluff’ businesses. This recession, however, has been different and more strongly felt by Via Veneto. Nona & Kim credit their continued success to working as employees together over the years and then coming together to build a business that “treats the customer as he/she wants to be treated”.
Kim, originally from Mississippi, moved here as a teenager. Her grandmother and roots are still in Mississippi. Nona is from Morganza, La. and came to Baton Rouge in the 70’s. They both believe in community and try to deal with other small businesses whenever possible in their day-to-day business dealings.
Both are strongly committed to community involvement as a business and as members of the community. They give back by providing a helping hand to schools, community organizations such as the battered women’s shelter, and becoming involved. They support the local artist community by featuring works by local artists. Kim’s husband Scott, a member of the Baton Rouge Epicurean society, held a recent fund-raiser for children’s nutrition & diabetes education.
They believe the current recession has hurt Baton Rouge business in general causing most businesses to cut back, and feel the City needs to give more support to small businesses with regulations and other issues. They would like to see Baton Rouge become a more appealing place to live through encouraging the arts, theater, and other cultural events.