Maurice Peterson’s ambitions did not originally tend toward owning a salon in Stockbridge. “I was going to be a movie star and director,” he explains. But his husband, Mark Johnson, had always dreamed of having his own salon, and after working for some of the top salons in London, Los Angeles, and New York, he knew a lot about the business. So eight years ago, they decided to take a chance. In a “grand and fabulous” move, they sold all their property in New York, moved to Stockbridge—where they “didn’t know a soul”—and opened SEVEN salon.spa. SEVEN, which is located just a few steps away from the Red Lion Inn, is a full service salon and day spa that offers all kinds of hair and nail services, waxing, massages, and facials—and accepts payment in BerkShares.
To start this new venture together, the pair marshaled their strengths—Peterson’s graphic design and writing skills and Johnson’s top-notch training, his head for numbers, and a business acumen he picked up from his parents—and combined those with a lot of hard work. Within a year, the Berkshires had embraced the salon and they had been named the best day spa in the Berkshires by Boston Magazine. “We have a beautiful setting—we remodeled our space to give an old building a cosmopolitan feel. We have fabulous stylists. We give great massages. Our team is a close-knit family. And we have a great time, too.”
Asked about the transition from New York City to Stockbridge, Peterson exclaims, “I felt I was being sent out to pasture!” But pretty quickly, he realized he liked the change. “In New York, everybody is an integer. You might know the person who is at your corner convenience store. Maybe. The shift changes all the time and they’re always getting new people. But here, you call up the deli and say, ‘Hey Jerry, can you make me a tuna fish sandwich?’ At first, I couldn’t believe it! But now here I am, a part of this community. I’m a known person, as opposed to this anonymous person who walks around New York like everyone else.”
BerkShares fit seamlessly into this new way of life. SEVEN opened the same year that BerkShares were issued, and the concept of supporting locally owned businesses resonated with these two new business owners. After all, who can object to some additional visibility and some more customers? Peterson explains, “Some people come in who might not have found our salon if it were not for BerkShares.” Plus, the aesthetics appealed, and the artwork and portraits on the bills celebrated their new home. “They are much more beautiful than greenbacks!”
It seems that the duo behind SEVEN salon.spa have hit their stride. Peterson is happy to report that his “dynamic, driven and totally organized” partner “now, finally, takes one day a week off.” And as for Peterson? “My favorite part about our business is meeting people. In what other occupation could you get to have so many friends who you see every six weeks? I think I am probably the most hugged person in the County.” He smiles and confides, “I’m pretty well known as a good hugger.”