French brings fresh new salon to Church Street

The list of Church Street's gay-owned businesses is growing with the addition of Mint Julep, Nashville's newest and most-darling salon.

Located at 1513 Church St., Mint Julep boasts five stylist's stations and contemporary decor and fixtures making it a truly unique style boutique.

Lee French opened the doors of the salon late last January, about three weeks after signing the lease and doing minor renovations to his new salon space.

Now, the former stock trader finds himself cutting hair, crunching numbers and ordering new color most hours of his days - and he couldn't be happier.

French spent four years trading stocks at a Knoxville agency, a job that ran hot and cold, hectic or monotonous.

"It could get stressful, knowing that if you screwed up a trade you lost someone's money," French said. Other times, his duties felt contrived and boring. 

Although the money was good, French's heart wasn't in it.

"No amount of money is worth staying in a trade you don't love."

Chomping at his creative bit, French swapped the stock market for Knoxville's Tennessee School of Beauty where he honed the craft he is passionate about.

He graduated in May 2002 and clipped and curled for five years in two different salons before deciding it was time to run a shop on his own terms.

Having worked in sprawling, industrial salons in the past, French set out in search of a smaller, intimate space for Mint Julep. It took about five months before he found the Church Street property, which has proved to be ideal for clients who stop by on their lunch break or on their way home from work.

The salon's convenient location off the interstate has made it easy for French's clients to follow him to his new salon where they can casually sip wine and swap stories while French enhances their image.

With the help of his father, an accountant, French said he opened the salon with minimal trouble. And, aside from mundane expense reports and the normal kinks that continue to pop up, French said there's nothing he doesn't love about being his own boss.

French is looking for an eclectic mix of stylists to work alongside him. He has four booths available for rent. Finding the right people to add to the salon's roster of stylists is an important aspect of French's business goal of building a salon that runs itself in his absence.

"I think it's a good move," French said. "That way I'll finally have some free time. That's the goal."

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