It's not easy keeping a small, family-owned business going for several decades and ones that survive tend to be those focused on taking care of their customers.
But when your business becomes nationally known—such as what happened to Green Brook's Gatsby Salon when TV's Style Network launched its "Jerseylicious" reality show—taking care of your customers becomes all the more important.
"Our everyday business isn't affected by the show," Christy Pereira, who runs the salon with her mother, Gayle Giacomo, said. "Our regular customers remain our main focus."
But sometimes it does create a little extra work for them—Pereira noted the show draws the curious, people who aren't really interested in the services offered but rather to get a glimpse of people they've seen on TV.
And then there's the salon's Facebook page, a site most small business use to keep customers posted on specials, services and updates of interest—which Gatsby does, for all 44,024 of the page's "likes."
Regardless, the show has opened doors as well, and helped the salon thrive through recent economic turmoil.
That means the business is in its 35th year—an almost unheard of span in the constant upheaval of the coiffure business.
Pereira credits the true success of the Gatsby Salon to her crew of experienced stylists, many of whom have been with the salon for more than 20 years to the years her step-father, Daniel Gianfrancisco, who started the salon.
And she credits her mother, who took over after Gianfrancisco died.
"It's a nice core," she said of her stylists. "We have younger people who are coming up, and the ones who've been here."
Since the reality show began broadcasting, Gatsby has been looking to use its wide-spread fame for its own purposes, too. A recent fundraising event collected $4,000 for breast cancer research, and Giacomo is developing a proprietary line of hair care products that could be sold across the country (and would compliment a private label line the salon has sold for years). The new product line—which has been developed from "scratch" Pereira said—is due to be launched in about three weeks.
"We'll see—if it goes great, great!" Pereira said. "But either way, we'll be able to say we tried."
So even as thousands follow the salon's ups and downs through the reality show's broadcasts, one reality it doesn't always capture continues: the Gatsby salon looks ahead to its future, while taking care of customers one at a time.