Cheryl Clauss and Mike Zedick both grew up in the greater Boston area. They met, married and lived on Cape Cod for more than a decade but once their children reached school age, the couple wanted a more suburban environment. A conversation with Cheryl’s brother prompted them to consider a move to the North Country. “Joe and his wife Carolyn were living and working here and they told us how beautiful it was and what a great place it was to raise the kids,” she explained. That was all the encouragement the two needed. They packed up their two young children, as well as Cheryl’s parents, and made their way to Plattsburgh in 1988.
As her children were settling into school Zedick learned that the BOCES in Essex County offered cosmetology classes for adults. That meant she could earn a license to do something she had always enjoyed. Not one to let the grass grow under her feet Zedick started her studies immediately, “I’d get the kids off to school and then I’d head down to Elizabethtown for my own classes,” she explained.
Once she was licensed Zedick focused on her dream of opening her own business. On April 1st, 1991 she did just that, opening Cut Loose with Ms. Z “I opened on April Fool’s Day, a Monday, because no one else was open that day,” she recalled. “I sat in the shop by myself the whole day; I didn’t have one customer.” It may have been a slow start but the business thrived and next April Cut Loose will mark its thirtieth anniversary.
While the shop hasn’t always been at its current location,
it has always been downtown and always on Margaret Street. “I’ve had such support from this community and our clients, I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else,” Zedick offered. There are currently three stylists working at Cut Loose. “While I opened the shop, my incredible team has played a critical role in its success,” she emphasized. “The talent and dedication they bring day in and day out is rare and wonderful.” The team is comprised of Jen Rivers, who joined Ms. Z in 1995, Amy Ashline who joined in 2013 and Zedick’s daughter Chrissy.
When Chrissy Zedick, now Chrissy Burns, graduated from high school her plan was to study chiropractic and follow in the footsteps of her aunt and uncle (Carolyn and Joe
Claus of Clinton County chiropractic fame). She headed south to begin her undergraduate studies in Greenville, South Carolina but after a couple of years realized it was not the right choice for her. It was then that she followed her heart, going on to earn her cosmetology license at the Greenville Academy of Hair and Technology.
While Zedick had been supportive of her daughter’s decision to become a chiropractor, she now admits the change of plans was welcome news. “I’ll never forget the day she called. She was coming home to work at the shop with me! I was thrilled. It was a dream come true.” That dream became a reality in 2000 and the two have been styling the North Country ever since.
It can be tough to create and maintain the kind of team that Zedick has. When asked how she does it, she shrugged, “I don’t know. I’m just really lucky.” At that point Burns smiled broadly and embraced the opportunity to brag a little about her mom/boss. “The idea of being a neighborhood salon has always been Mom’s but at the same time this is a business and you need to know your trade.”
Although New York State does not require that stylists stay up to date with continuing or industry education, Zedick makes sure the team goes to at least one hair convention a year. “We don’t get to have a holiday party because we are really busy at that time of year but I like to take the girls out of town later to celebrate,” she said. We go to one of the hair conventions in the bigger cities. We have a great time and we learn. And we laugh a lot too!”
Zedick acknowledged the pandemic shutdown earlier
this year was hard on the team. “I was lucky to get help
through the Paycheck Protection Program,” she emphasized. “That really helped.” Burns added, “And we had the help of a good accountant. Someone you can trust, is worth his/her weight in gold.”
“Our job is to take care of people and for 10 weeks we weren’t able to do that. That was really hard,” Zedick observed. To keep their spirits up the group gathered every day and hiked at Point au Roche. “It was really important to all of us that we not lose each other.”
Zedick reminisced about another challenge for the business — the Ice Storm of 1998. “We had a wedding and we couldn’t get into town. Even if we had been able to, the shop didn’t have power. I was on the phone with WIRY radio telling folks how to curl their hair by holding a curling iron over a candle to get it hot and then wrapping the hair around it. And don’t forget to wipe off the black soot!” she described with a laugh. “But we got through it. Tomorrow is always another day, and here we are.”
Cut Loose follows industry best practices for COVID caution and, while the stylists are all wearing masks, there are huge smiles behind them and they are grateful for the return of their clients.
Cut Loose with Ms. Z
246 Margaret Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901