Denise Taylor has always loved fashion and hair.
As a little girl, she gave her Barbies' stylish do's. Later, she studied hairdressing at vocational school. She bought and operated First Class Hair Studio in New Egypt for 10 years before selling the business to start a family.
Four years ago, after operating chairs in Princeton and Lawrenceville salons, Taylor launched her own salon at Mercer Mall in Lawrenceville.
Today, in addition to running Great Looks Multi Cultural Hair Salon, Taylor is also active in the community, volunteering to help a variety of community organizations.
Now Taylor has been honored in the inaugural class of "Women of Achievement" Awards from the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Women in Business Alliance. She is being recognized for her achievements in entrepreneurial initiatives.
The first annual awards honor women from Princeton and Central New Jersey who have realized extraordinary levels of accomplishment in their respective fields.
"I was very, very, very shocked and so honored," Taylor said of learning about the award. "This is an honor given to me based on my peers. These are powerful women. For them to look at me this way, it's was very self-rewarding."
The other 2013 Women of Achievement honorees are:
- Barbara Fox, reporter at US1, for her achievements in journalism
- Danielle Gletow, founder of One Simple Wish, for her achievements in non profits.
- Barbara Hillier, of studiohillier, for her achievements in architecture
Taylor never went to college or took business courses, yet she successfully oversees a team of 12 stylists who train under her guidance and education, with regular in-house training and team trips to beauty events and seminars.
"We have a really good team, most of them have been with me since we opened," she said. "I set the bar really high. We have bumps in the road, but they know what we look for and know what we want and we're a great team. We're very blessed."
The salon has successfully marketed itself as a multicultural salon, putting the stylists' training into working on differently textured hair.
"I don’t look at the color of the skin, I don’t look at anyone differently, I just look at the texture of your hair," Taylor said. "It's something clients appreciate. We market our business that way and we get tons of clients that way."
When she's not working, Taylor partners with local community organizations.
She serves on the Women's Initiative Advisory Board for Homefront, is a member of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce Champions for Business Committee and was selected as a 2012 Princeton YWCA Tribute to Women honoree. She has completed in several marathons, for which she raised more than $33,000 to benefit Fred’s Team Cancer Research.
In late 2012, Taylor founded Salons Saving Our Shores and organized a Princeton-area cut-a-thon. Dozens of Central NJ hair stylists donated their time and talents towards for more than 200 customers at the Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village. The event raised $7,500 for charities helping families impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
Taylor is married to Chase Taylor (who helps on the administrative side the business) and they have a daughter, Amy, 14. The family lives in Robbinsville.
The 2013 Women of Achievement honorees will be recognized during a breakfast at TPC Jasna Polana on June 13.
“As leaders in their career fields we believe that these women are role models for others to admire and emulate for their strength of purpose and desire to accomplish something extraordinary against all challenges,” Chamber President and CEO Peter Crowley said.