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On a slow morning at Cass Garden Salon and Day Spa, a throng of lively women crouched and crowded around a new cappachino machine that had just been placed into a corner of the reception area.
There was an air of nervous excitement as the group moved and settled close to the door to wait for customers.
Holli Sanderfer, 25, an aesthetitian at Cass Gardens, remembers when everything around her was merely a fantastic sketch in one of her notebooks.
“Everything has fallen into place, from the signs to the construction company,” she said. “We finally have our dream.”
Cass Gardens, which opened on Brainerd Road in November, is owned by Ms. Sanderfer’s parents, Clyde and Shirley Sanderfer. After retiring from corporate jobs, they decided to invest their savings into a family business with their two daughters.
Unlike many salons and spas which appeal to rich or poor, white or black, the Sanderfers say they designed Cass Gardens to be a luxury experience that appeals to men and women of all backgrounds.
Staff Photo by Gillian Bolsover
Savanna Caylor, 6, watches as Tera Johnson washes Tara Caylor’s hair at Cass Gardens Salon and Day Spa on Brainerd Road. Savanna is Mrs. Caylor’s daughter.
Long before the Sanderfers decided to open a spa, Mr. Sanderfer, who speaks in a warm, melodic voice and doubles as pastor of St. Matthew Primitive Baptist Church, had intended his daughters to get college degrees.
“They both attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and it broke my heart when they wanted to drop out of college,” he said.
Yet, his attitude changed, he said, when he saw that his oldest daughter, Heather, 31, had developed a loyal following as a hairdresser and was making good money doing what she loved.
At the same time, his younger daughter, Holli, was fresh out of cosmetology school and struggling to find a job.
“I thought one day I would like to put them under one roof,” he said. “We wanted an upscale salon where everyone would feel comfortable. A place, if you wanted to sit on the floor you could sit on the floor. It was like God just turned on a light bulb last June.”
Since its opening, Mrs. Sanderfer said business has begun to pick up. That morning she had received a call from a women from Nashville wanting to buy a gift certificate for her mother.
“That’s what I like to hear,” she said, high-fiving her husband.
She said she hopes to draw a diverse clientele with a family-friendly atmosphere, unique products and good service. Cass Gardens carries several hair and skin care lines such as Schwarzkopf Professional, Eluence, Mizani, J Beverly Hills and Doctor D. Schwab.
The family also also sells its own makeup line and offers a full-service spa.
“It all happened at the right time,” she said. “There is a little stress in everything, but because we can do it together that’s one of the joys.”
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