BLOOMINGTON, Ill.– A local business is celebrating just shy of 50 years in operation.
“I said guess I have an owner attitude and that was my ah-ha moment. You know,” said Vicki Tilton, the co-owner of Fox & Hounds Hair Studio and Day Spa. “The name was to convey the fact that men and women were both welcome, with foxes being women and hounds being men.”
For Tilton, life is coming full circle at the business. Fox & Hounds has been in Bloomington since the early 1970s. Tilton, a licensed cosmetologist, started working for the original owner in 1976 at a strip mall on the city’s east side. After the shop was sold twice, she and her husband, Tim decided to buy it in 1991.
Fast forward to today, the Tilton’s own not only the hair salon, but an entire building in Bloomington.
“Tim’s gift was not only developing the building but marketing it, managing it, getting people to want to be here,” said Tilton.
The building includes six levels of office spaces, apartments, a retail business, an art co-op and a shoeshine station. Tilton takes particular pride in the shoeshine station run by her son-in-law and his father.
“They serve a great purpose to the building. Shining shoes is just part of what they do. They are the face of the building when you walk in the door. Opening the door, helping you find where you want to get to,” she said.
While reluctant to initially become a business owner, Tilton credits her mother for her entrepreneurial spirit.
She said, “My mother owned a restaurant. My sister and I were pouring coffee and wiping down counters from the time we were tall enough to reach anything. Washing dishes.”
But reaching the status of business owners did not come easily.
“Financing fell through four hours before the initial closing,” Tilton laughed as she reminisced. But she says everything worked out well in the end.
Now the entire family, including children, grandchildren and in-laws, have had a hand in the day to day operations.
“All of my children took other paths you know when they got out of high school and moved on. They all ended up back here,” said Tilton.
Tilton still cuts hair two days a week alongside the rest of the Fox & Hounds team. She hopes to one day pass the business along to her daughters, Casey and Denise with the help of a 10-year exit strategy the family has developed.
As a group, the Tilton’s work to make sure the family investment, employees and customers are taken care of.
“Give them a fun place, but a safe place where they feel they can leave their problems outside the door. They can come in here. They can be powerful. They can be creative. They can be influencing other people’s lives, which are the customers,” she said.
Fox & Hounds is celebrating its 50th anniversary next year. It’s located at 200 West Monroe Street # 2 in Bloomington.