Winner of Woman Owned Business of the Year has inspiring advice for aspiring entrepreneurs

Published 12:34 am Thursday, March 23, 2023

NEDERLAND — Leah Smith Ambrose knows what she wants to tell next year’s Woman Owned Business of the Year awardee: be true to yourself.

Ambrose, owner of Flourish/Cultivating Confidence in Nederland, recently earned the distinction herself. Her salon at 1048 Boston Ave. is near Twin City Highway and in sight of the city’s archway.

“Whether it’s the 15-year-old me that just wanted to do hair one day, or if it was the 23-year-old me that just started out as a hairdresser and had so many new ambitions, or if it was the 31-year-old me who had four kids at this time and needed more financial stability,” Ambrose said.  “Just be true.”

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The salon owner is living a dream that she worked hard to make happen. She credits Dana Espinal with the Lamar State College Port Arthur Small Business Development Center for mentoring her in her journey as a business owner.

“I’ve been working behind the chair for 15 years. And, having a good clientele, that’s a good support as far as finances go, but you know, that’s just not enough,” Ambrose said. “So, we ran into some struggles, you just persevere through it. And it all just came together, and it happened actually very fast. I’m amazed at how fast it happened.”

Flourish opened in August and has been hitting all of the important steps along the way. She has five service providers and room for one more. Services include skincare, hair, lash extensions and permanent makeup such as brows and lashes with more services planned in the future.

The fact that she earned the Woman Owned Business of the Year is amazing to her because, as a stylist she deals with a lot of women and works to encourage them, tries to build them up and lift them up, she said.

Ambrose is from the area and remembers riding her bicycle up and down Boston Avenue where she now has a business.

“Having so many memories in the community as a child, I’m honored, really, to have had the opportunity for this location,” she said.

Keep up with trends

Ambrose and the other service providers at the salon make it a point to keep up with trends and new developments in the business.

As far as products, Ambrose has a high standard and smell alone isn’t the key; performance is. She has two hair products she feels are the best per smell and performance — Wilson Collective and Leaf & Flower.

She and the other providers follow the leading artists and key educators in the industry, take Zoom courses and more.

Clients, brides and more

Flourish is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and can make accommodations for different hours if needed.

One such event is for brides and bridal parties, she said.

The salon has received good reviews online. From Beanna Raven Shaw who said the salon gives great service and makes clients feel welcome to Leza Cardenas who spoke highly of the provider who handles her lashes.

Kristy Curtis said Leah is awesome.

“I always leave feeling beautiful,” Curtis said in the online review. “She will listen to what you want and is very knowledgeable. I rate Flourish a 10 out of 10.”

The name and the dream

The salon name Flourish is centered on a dream, Ambrose said.

Being a hairstylist has always been her dream and that evolved later into a dream of becoming a salon owner. But a name for the business just wasn’t coming to her.

Then about four or five years ago her family went through a very tough time, she said. They lost their house to Harvey then her husband was hurt at work.

“Immediately after we were in like, a place of destitute. And He gave me that name flourish,” she said, adding that her and her husband are Christians. “I felt like it was the name and it was also the promise to flourish.”