UGA SBDC Aids in Expansion of Successful Co-Working Salon Studio


Amika Carter had built two successful locations of her co-working salon, Beya Salon Studios, in Atlanta and was ready to open a third near Atlanta’s West End when she reached out to the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (UGA SBDC) for assistance. She connected with Terence Strong, Fiserv business consultant at the UGA SBDC at Morehouse College, for assistance on strategic expansion plans, financial projections, a tenant recruitment plan and a review of the return on investment from her marketing efforts. Beya Salon Studio’s third location opened in September 2023, breaking even the first month with 21 studios leased. Now, the location is nearly at capacity with only five of its 34 spaces available.

Carter built the first two locations of Beya Salon Studios while working full-time at Coca-Cola. The co-working model allowed stylists to rent space and be independent salon owners without unnecessary overhead costs. Carter had seen the concept in Atlanta suburbs and knew it would do well in the city. Now, with the addition of memberships to her business model, stylists can rent studios as they need it, with memberships ranging from 40 to 100 hours per month.

“This new membership model helps disrupt the industry in a positive way and gives beauty professionals options early in their career,” said Carter. “As soon as I had the framing up on our first location in Midtown, stylists started booking space.”

Four years later, the waiting list was growing and Carter knew it was time to expand. Building on what she learned from the flagship location, she opened the second Beya Salon Studios in Atlanta’s Virginia Highland neighborhood.

Without any major marketing campaigns or true focus on the business, capacity quickly grew to 70% and Beya was making margins. Carter knew the business had the potential to do more.

She decided to leave her corporate career and give Beya Salon Studios her full attention. Occupancy quickly grew to 90%, and Carter knew she was ready to open a third location. She found a space on the beltline in Atlanta’s reimagined West End. That’s when she connected with Strong.

“I was all in from our first meeting because the help Terence gave me was actionable,” said Carter. “He was so helpful and intelligent, ready and willing to connect the dots with information or help me make connections with others that could assist me.”

Strong recommended Carter look at the business models of other co-working spaces outside of the beauty industry to see the parallels.

“That insight helped me determine the pros and cons of the co-working model,” said Carter. “It also showed me that one thing all these spaces had in common was a place for people to connect. That encouraged me to add a lounge and outdoor patio in my third location, to allow our tenants to build community amongst each other.”

Together, Carter and Strong looked at financial projections and focused closely on what Carter could afford.

“Those projections were really important,” said Carter. “I was just about to start my buildout, but knew I really wanted to celebrate this space and make it nice. Our tenants are our priority, and a high-end, empowering facility can help them succeed.”


The economy was tough, but so was Carter.

After seeing a $500,000 increase in buildout costs due to the post-pandemic inflation, Strong helped Carter take a closer look at her numbers to determine how many memberships she would need to break even.

They also worked on a marketing plan and a tenant recruitment plan, focusing directly on licensed stylists in the Atlanta area through digital and direct mail campaigns.

“She was doing marketing, but she didn’t understand the math behind it,” Strong said. “I helped her do determine how much she should expect to receive in return of each dollar spent on marketing.”

In addition, Strong encouraged Carter to do interviews with Beya’s stylists and start an open dialogue.

“This created a feedback loop between her and her clients,” said Strong. “It became an impactful way for tenants to give feedback and a way for Carter to collect data.”

Since working with the UGA SBDC, Carter’s third location is nearly at capacity with only five vacancies remaining out of 34 spaces. She’s looking to open additional locations within the next five years and enhance her growth by developing partnerships with beauty schools.

Carter plans to stay in touch with the UGA SBDC as her business grows and she hopes to mentor others.


  • Opened Third Location
  • Studio Nearly at Capacity

“The UGA SBDC is my one stop shop advisory board. If every small business owner had this—a thought partner to help build their business—we would all be thriving. Their support is invaluable and I’m so grateful.”

For More Information: University of Georgia SBDC | (706) 542-2762