A pair of entrepreneurs is putting a fresh spin on a Superior business.
Raya Horst and Jessica Matson, who have been friends since preschool, recently took ownership of Serenity Spa and Salon and Posh Boutique at 1705 Tower Ave. They celebrated with an open house and ribbon cutting Monday, Aug. 23.
Although the two were opposites in high school — Matson was a dancer, Horst a basketball player who could barely be bothered to brush her hair — their different talents have combined well to kick off a business partnership.
“We have our own strengths, but the same goals,” Matson said. “So we just work together to get to that goal because our weaknesses, the other one kind of balances out.”
Matson’s strengths lie in the behind-the-scenes paperwork and organization. Horst excels at marketing, appearances and social media.
It’s more than business to the two, who met in preschool at Cathedral School and graduated from Superior High School in 2012.
“We just kind of became one giant family,” Horst said, instead of two separate owners. "You know, as they say, it takes a village and here we've just become this super tight knit group where her kids are mine, mine are hers.”
They took different paths to entrepreneurship. Matson, whose sister, Jolene Timmers, founded the business, has been working behind the scenes since it opened 12 years ago.
“When she was first building Serenity, the girl who was teaching her actually taught me the computer system. So I actually was the one who instantly knew everything,” Matson said.
Ownership has been a whole new world for Horst, who attended Minnesota State University on a track scholarship with an eye toward a career as a game warden. She served six years in the United States Army, then started taking classes to be a mortician before deciding on a career in cosmetology.
Both were independent stylists at Serenity before deciding to purchase the business, and they continue to see clients. On Aug 20, Matson put the finishing touches on Nancy O’Neill’s airbrush makeup. A client of Serenity for years, the session was especially important.
“My son is getting married today,” O’Neill said.
At a nearby chair, Horst chatted with Hannah Checketts while finishing her hair.
“Raya styles every member of my family, actually,” said Checketts, of Superior. “Three generations, every single one of us, and then some. My siblings as well. She’s amazing.”
The two friends now juggle bills, product orders and a dozen employees as well as clients. They also provide chair rental to a few independent stylists. Timmers helped ease them into the ownership role slowly over the spring, Matson said, and continues to offer guidance as they navigate the process.
The building is still owned by Timmers, who sees clients in a separate salon space.
Horst and Matson remodeled the shop by taking down a wall, opening up the space and repainting it in earthy tones. They are focused on earth-friendly products and styles, and plan to continue supporting community efforts such as Pennies from Heaven.
The most recent addition to the shop's full complement of spa and salon services has been Reiki therapy and card readings. Through the changes, their focus remains on providing service and style to people from all walks of life.
"‘Everyone should be able to afford to feel beautiful and feel welcome,” Horst said.
Making people feel beautiful and helping them express themselves are the pair's favorite part of the job. To them, it's all in the family.
“Your guests come in and they become your family,” Horst said. “… Being part of their goods and their bads, you can’t put a price on that. That’s amazing."