This article appears in the January issue of 400 Life Magazine
The grayest wintry January days in Forsyth County may make Miami-born April Fern Richards a little nostalgic for her home state (which makes some of us wistful too), but a step into her bright and vibrant salon in downtown Cumming shows why she is loves to call this place home. And it’s anything but gray.
April Fern Richards recently opened Salon AF & Beauty Co. on Pirkle Ferry Road in downtown Cumming. A self-proclaimed “Beauty School Dropout” in 2000, she graduated from Florida and Georgia (and made the list of deans) in 2017.
“I am so happy to be in this industry. It allows for so much creativity and fluctuation in my schedule, “says Richards, owner of Salon AF & Beauty Co.” I love that everything is constantly changing and evolving with hair trends, but I also love it when I make time for that Family may need. “
The two ideas have always been intertwined for Richards, who nods at the environment her own mother created for her and her adult sisters.
“I’ve been a creative person since I was a kid,” she says. “I come from a family of artists and grew up with a tendency to see things in color. I have a knack for putting certain colors together that most people wouldn’t. I love being able to change a person’s look, be it with hair color, special occasion makeup, or eyelash extensions. Watching her face light up the first time you look at yourself is priceless! Then you know you did your job. “
One place she wanted to get to was a new salon in downtown Cumming. She needed a bigger room and had her eye on a particular piece of land: a cozy white house on Pirkle Ferry Road.
“There was something about that particular building – that little white house with the blue-green door – that was just so cute,” says Richards. “I couldn’t afford it when I first asked about it. Fast forward two years and it kind of fell into my lap. It was a sign, I thought. I will just do it! I won’t let COVID scare me! I was so busy in such a short time and had to turn away new customers. I don’t want to do that! I want to keep them under my roof. So we made it up. “
The salon opened in its new location in early October 2020 and Richards immediately made an impact on downtown Cumming – both the house itself and its clients, including the “F” for Fern, nodding to a family name that was full of emotion.
“Forsyth County made me very welcome, personally and as a business owner,” says Richards. “It’s a central location for our customers who travel to us from Dawsonville, Dahlonega, Gainesville, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Marietta, Ball Ground, Atlanta, and even some in Florida! We also got lots of locals including some new customers who say they just drove by, loved our sign and reached us on Facebook. “
This sign is just an indication of what is inside. As the style trend leaned toward white and country rustic, Richards stuck to what she knew – color. And with a house with a light blue front door, the rest was easy, including a team of professionals able to combine the space with equally vibrant personalities.
“That’s our goal,” says Richards. “We are professionals at first, but our team has a lot of fun together, which is reflected directly in the experience of our customers. We like to laugh, we are nervous, but we are down to earth. We all definitely have the gift of there. This makes our customers feel welcome and have a good time while they are here. ”
And they’re here for a lot more than just freshening up your roots.
“My clients trust me to help them find the best color that suits their complexion, face shape and personality,” says Richards. “A lot of them sit in my chair and say, ‘You have this, do what you want. ‘ I love that! I have several clients who have gone from natural colors to vivid colors, back to natural colors. [and more]! I walked her through every single step. I enjoy seeing them transform in all these phases of life. “