Randi Leshin, owner of the All About U! salon in Savage, has deep roots in Howard County. The 29-year-old Columbia native went to Graham Webb Academy, a cosmetology school in Arlington, after graduating from Atholton High School. Much of her extended family lives in Howard County.
With nine years of experience as a stylist and two as an owner, Leshin is far from a stranger to the cosmetology world, but she’s also gone head first into Jewish life in Howard County, co-chairing one of the largest events this year of the Jewish Federation of Howard County, a Purim event that drew an estimated 1,500 attendees. She and her husband are the parents of Landon, 3.
How did you go from being a stylist to the owner of the salon?
I was working for my previous boss and she wanted to retire. She approached me about purchasing the business. She owned the salon first, and I bought it from her.
What were the challenges of becoming an owner?
The hardest thing about transitioning from co-worker to owner/manager is the other stylists realizing that I’m the boss now. It can be difficult for people to take direction from someone who was [their] equal. After having some conversations, I was able to gain the respect as a leader.
What’s the vibe of the salon like at peak hours?
All About U! definitely has a “Cheers” vibe. We have a very “everybody-knows-your-name” thing going. All the clients talk to each other. I know all about the other girls’ clients, and they know mine. It’s just a loud, talkative party in the salon. All the clients are talking, the stylists are talking. … It’s a bunch of women having a great time.
How have things changed since you took the reins?
I have made a few cosmetic changes over the last two years, but I would say the biggest change is the growth. A few of the girls were new to the business, and I love seeing them get busier and building a solid clientele.
What do you enjoy about working in a salon and cosmetology?
I’m not a huge fan of sitting still and doing the same thing every day. The whole appeal of something different every hour and every day, even if it’s four highlights, it’s still not the same. And I’m a social person, so I enjoy the aspect of having conversations and being busy all day.
What’s it like owning a business so close to home?
Owning a business where I grew up is fun and cool. People are always walking in the salon and saying, ‘Oh, I know you.’ It’s very connected; it’s like its own world. I have two aunts and uncles, my mom, sister, my in-laws — [they all] still live in Howard County. [My husband, Ricky,] graduated from Hammond High School. We’re a very Howard County family.
How are you involved with the Jewish Federation of Howard County?
I am in the current jLeads class [a young adult leadership program] at the federation. I was the co-chair for Purim Palooza this past year, and I’m involved in a couple of other committees. I also help with the PJ Library committee with planning and organizing different family events. I dipped my toe in the pond [at the federation] two years ago and was doing full laps in the pool a year, year-and-a-half ago. They got me and roped me in quick.
How would you describe Howard County’s Jewish community?
The Jewish community is extremely close and tight-knit. If you sit down and play Jewish geography with someone from Howard County, or even Columbia specifically, you’re without a doubt within 4 degrees of someone.