Diane Marie Dougherty, who has worked at hair salons in the Chestnut Hill area for a quarter century, has just opened her own salon, Eden Spa and Salon, at 627 Bethlehem Pike in Erdenheim. More information at 215-948-3565. (Photo by Barbara Sherf)

By Barbara Sherf

Diane Marie Dougherty was supposed to take a cruise to Greece for her 50th birthday, but instead she invested the money she and her husband, Joseph, had saved for the trip into starting the Eden Spa and Salon in Erdenheim.

Dougherty, who has worked in the beauty industry in and around Chestnut Hill for 25 years, decided to strike out on her own in mid-May.

Upon seeing a “For Rent” sign at the former Chenelle’s Salon and then touring the interior, Dougherty discussed it with her husband and three children. They were very supportive, and she had a colorful sign made, after which Diane opened for business on May 17, one month and one day after her 50th birthday.

“As soon as I saw the space, I had a vision for it.  I knew it was just the right size for me. When I signed the lease, everything just fell into place, including the name. I hope people find it a peaceful, relaxing place.”

Indeed, the Zen Garden light green and Pearl Earrings cream interior with sleek black art deco trim coupled with the Maxfield Parrish paintings produced a serene atmosphere.

“I chose these paintings for the walls because they have a dreamlike, airy quality. That’s how I envision this space,” she explained.

Many of her regular customers at other salons have found Diane, who feels that “this totally feels right and like it was meant to be.”

One of 11 children who grew up in South Philadelphia, her father was a mechanic, and her mother a teacher’s aide. She started working in women’s retail after graduating from West Catholic High School and then enrolled in beauty school. Of note is the fact that her fraternal grandfather, Joseph Schaulleur, owned six salons in the Old City section of Philadelphia.

She and her husband have three children; Joseph, 27, is an electrician; Christina, 23, has an undergraduate degree in Business Marketing and is working on a Masters in Speech Pathology, and the youngest, Roxanne, 19, is studying Environmental Science.

Married for 28 years to a Philadelphia police lieutenant, who is the third generation of his family on the force, the couple have lived in Manayunk for 20 years and are considering relocating closer to the salon.

Dougherty started working in the business at Sherlock’s Salon on Highland Avenue in Chestnut Hill on and off for five years. She took a break while starting her family and then worked for Salon, Salon in Flourtown for another five years. From there she went to the Gerald Paul Salon in Chestnut Hill and enrolled in the Pennsylvania Institute of Massage Therapy in Quakertown. She received her certificate in massage therapy and most recently worked at Spa Elysium in Chestnut Hill, doing both massage therapy and hair styling.

“I’ve worked in a lot of different shops, and I’ve learned from every one of them. I felt like this was the next step, to start my own business. While it was hard to say goodbye to my existing clients, it was something I had to do for myself, although many have followed me here.”

Dougherty always wanted to incorporate herbs and a more holistic approach into her work, and she wouldn’t rule out having her own line of body washes and shampoos one day.

“I feel if you are true to yourself and follow your heart and work hard that it will all work out. I feel like this is a blessing,” she said looking around her 400-square-foot space with its bamboo hardwood floors.

The business is a real family affair. Diane’s youngest daughter has helped her start a Facebook page, and her son-in-law is working on her Web site. Her son has done electrical work, and her husband updated the fixtures and retiled the bathroom floor. Her daughter, Christina, helped her write a business plan and apply for small business loans.

“We sit around and brainstorm ideas to promote the salon,” she said. “It has really brought us all together as a family.” Her friends have given her numerous referrals and she has put in place a referral program to reward anyone who sends business her way.

“I keep it all in this book. When I get three referrals from someone, that person gets a free haircut,” she said, noting that she will also offer massage therapy, including the use of a special massage table for pregnant women. In addition to hair styling, Eden offers hair coloring and waxing and will soon offer manicures and pedicures.

Nestled in the row of shops between Coupe Flowers and Phantastic Phinds at 627 Bethlehem Pike, Eden Spa and Salon is open Monday through Friday, 10-7, and Saturday from 9 to 5. You can follow Eden on Facebook at   www.facebook.com/s.s.eden11 or call 215-948-3565.

Barbara Sherf can be reached at 215-233-8022 or Barb@CommunicationsPro.com.