It was January 2020, and Laura Snakenberg was at the doorstep to her dream.
A hairdresser for more than two decades, she'd signed a lease on what she planned to turn into her first salon. Having noticed a salon already in the same building, though, she told the landlord that she didn't want to "step on toes."
Snakenberg said the night she signed the lease, the landlord called and said the salon operator, a tenant for 16 years, had "hit the roof" when he broke the news. She said she and the landlord talked and agreed that the best option for all parties was to tear up the contract.
"I sat and cried folding the laundry that night," she recalled.
Snakenberg said she endured a few more false starts during the next couple of years, but her fortunes finally took a turn late this past year. She's set to open her new business, 3Eleven Collective on Saturday at 7633 E. Brainerd Road.
She said the name of her business refers to a Bible verse she holds dear -- Ecclesiastes 3:11, which reads, in part, "(God) has made everything beautiful in its time."
"For me, it's a way to share my faith without being in everybody's face," she said. "Sometimes the right thing can't be rushed -- if we had started out in January of 2020, with COVID just around the corner, we probably wouldn't have made it."
Snakenberg said 3Eleven Collective's opening will be festive, including giveaways and discounts. Besides herself, the initial staff will consist of five cosmetologists of varying stripes, hence her choice of "Collective," she said. Between them, she said, the staff is bringing about 200 clients.
"Our goal is to have a mix of everything," she said, adding that five hairdressers will work in a large shared space, while five individual suites are available for cosmetology professionals to rent and set up their own businesses.
"Maybe a massage therapist -- or two," she said.
Snakenberg said she's spent about $20,000 to ready the new space, where she's looking to establish a very specific look.
"We really wanted clean aesthetic," she said. "Not a lot of clutter and craziness going on. We want clients walking out feeling like a million dollars, and having a neutral, clean aesthetic allows for that."
Snakenberg also knows what she wants in terms of a vibe at 3Eleven.
"I really want this to be a unified group," she said. "I'm looking for the right people -- people who want to stay for the long haul and be like family.
"I've worked in a couple of salons where I saw how toxic the culture can be. I knew there had to be a better way. I want us to do good work in an environment that fosters relationships."
And now, after more than 25 years in the business and having weathered multiple disappointments in the last three of those, Snakenberg finally has her chance to build that place.
"There were times I thought maybe I'm chasing something that's not supposed to happen," she said. "But this feels so beautiful -- like peace. Joy. What it was supposed to be all along.
"It was worth the wait."