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I Spy Something Dyed . . .

Two sisters went undercover to investigate a possible franchise--and liked what they saw.

Sisters Sarah Weinman and Soraya Bandy have been running businesses together for 13 years, but this year, they decided to make the move from independent ownership to franchising. For three years, the pair operated FINAO (Failure Is Not an Option), a women's clothing manufacturer that required them to travel to Europe and Asia and work in New York, away from their New Jersey homes.

As mothers of two children each, Weinman, 32, and Bandy, 38, were looking for something closer to home. "When we had FINAO, it got to the point where my daughter was saying 'Mom, we really need you at home,'" Weinman says.

A story in a fashion magazine introduced the sisters to haircolorxpress, a hair-color-only salon franchise. "We would work in New York City and get our hair done in the city, where color and a cut [cost] $400. So when we [read] that you could have a single process for $20, we couldn't believe it," Weinman says. "We actually went undercover to get our hair colored at one of the haircolorxpress stores, and sure enough, the place was as trendy and beautiful as a New York salon."

Excited by the concept, the sisters were soon on their way to opening their first store in Manalapan, New Jersey. Despite a slipping economy, Weinman and Bandy never had any concerns about starting a new business. "With the economy this way, franchising is the best path for people to take, because you have a much stronger chance of survival," Bandy explains. "We actually chose to go into franchising because of the economy."

Weinman and Bandy are already looking for a second location and plan to open 10 haircolorxpress stores in the next five years.

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This article was originally published in the October 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: I Spy Something Dyed . . ..

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