By Aimee Hancock
Joshua Stucky always dreamed of owning his own business, but his dreams didn’t necessarily include the happy twist of five more locations and a spinoff.
Seventeen years after opening the first Square One Salon in Dayton, he and partners Brent Johnson and Doug Henderson are about to launch their sixth location in Oak Creek. They already expanded to Columbus five years ago with salons Downtown and in the suburb of New Albany, and they operate other locations on Brown Street near the University of Dayton and in Centerville.
Square One salons offer the full range of services for hair – cuts, styling, coloring and more – but the routine services also include relaxing extras like mini-facials and scalp massages. Every location also offers manicures and pedicures, waxing and makeup services. Each also has a menu of spa services that includes facials, massage and body wraps.
“When we opened, we didn’t really expect it to get this far,” said Johnson, who is Stucky’s life partner as well. “We just wanted to open a business, have fun with it and see where it went. In fact, Josh and I both kept our regular jobs and just came in on the evenings and weekends. It eventually involved both of us leaving our permanent positions.”
Stucky worked as a 4th-grade teacher in Kettering after studying at Wright State University and the University of Dayton.
“I taught school for 25 years,” he said. “I actually just retired in May.”
Stucky is originally from Springfield, and Johnson is from just south of Dayton. They’ve lived in the area for nearly 30 years and also helped found the Rubi Girls, the Dayton drag troupe that has raised more than $1 million over the last three decades for HIV/AIDS services and LGBT organizations.
The partners believe in helping others through their businesses as well. They’ve adopted a philosophy called they call the Four Corner Focus, which encompasses undivided attention and total satisfaction for customers, charity toward those who face challenges, fostering community growth and wellness, and creating a enjoyable work environment.
Part of that belief, Johnson said, is that employees are important assets to any business and should be treated that way. Five long-term employees have been able to buy shares in the business and are now partners at the salons on Brown Street and in Oak Creek. The Oak Creek location is scheduled to open this month.
“It’s really unique,” Johnson said. “We just wanted to find a way to thank them and tie in key people who are really part of our success and give them [more] opportunities.”
This past November, Stucky added another business to the Square One company with a gift and goods shop called Agnes & Orson. Named after Stucky’s two beloved dogs, the shop had always been part of his dream of owning a business.
A&O is an eclectic store full of gifts and knick-knacks. Stucky’s vision was to provide a unique variety to attract customers whom he felt were underrepresented in the area.
“One thing that Dayton lacks is a really sassy, classy store, and it needed a little bit of both,” Stucky said. “The second thing is, I feel like we don’t really represent the gay and lesbian community in this town, and what we have found is we cannot keep gay and lesbian stuff on the shelves because there are that many people who are like, ‘Finally, there’s a store for us.’”
Agnes & Orson is located below the Brown Street Square One location near UD.
“We opened the last week of November and we have been busy since the doors opened,” Stucky said. “We get a lot of young people. The young people push us into the ‘sassy’ part. I’ve said this before, that you can have beautiful glassware and it will sit here, [but] the minute you put the f-word on it, it’s sold.”
What’s really cool about Agnes & Orson, Johnson said, is that Stucky opened the business with two Square One employees.
“We still work together in that location [within] the hierarchy of ownership and employee,” he said. “But then they work over here side by side as co-owners in the business.”
“We’re a big huge family,” Stucky said. “We do everything together. If one person has a baby, we all have a baby. It’s one of those kinds of situations. We’re just very blessed that way.”
Aimee Hancock is a 2014 graduate of Bowling Green State University, where she studied journalism and popular culture. She currently lives in Troy and works as a freelance writer in Western and Southwest Ohio.