When Whitney Zink was tall enough to reach the sink in her mother’s basement hair studio, she’d sneak downstairs to practice coloring her friends’ hair. As a teenager, she got a job shampooing clients in local hair salons, then graduated from Hereford High School a semester early so she could pursue a license from local cosmetology school Robert Paul Academy — just as her mother had done years earlier. At 26, she’s been a licensed hairstylist for eight years. And in October 2017, she became the proud co-owner of full-service salon The Zone in Parkton, after convincing her mother to come out of semi-retirement and become her business partner.
Initially, it was not what her mother had in mind. Barrie Zink, 53, was happily eyeing the piece of property in Florida that she and her husband, Scott Zink, had recently purchased when their daughter came to her with the business proposal.
The senior Zink had previously owned and operated Expectations Hair Design in the same building that now houses the completely renovated new salon, The Zone, at 17030 York Road. She’d built up the business while raising her two daughters in Hereford, growing it into a full-service salon and purchasing the building in 2006, before selling it in 2010.
“It wore me down,” said the senior Zink, who at the time was juggling the responsibilities of caring for her mother, raising a family and operating her business.
In 2017, as the building sat unoccupied, Zink and her husband, a seasoned construction professional, decided that he would gut and rehab it before they put it on the market. Scott Zink restored the aging historic building, maintaining its original charm and solid structure while giving it modern appeal — exposed wood floors, spare and attractive décor. Instead of selling the carefully renovated building, the Zinks decided to keep it in the family and give the mother-daughter salon a go.
A family affair
The salon’s motto — “Family-owned, locally grown” — aptly describes The Zone’s business model. The Zinks’ youngest daughter, Carly, helps promote the business. Scott Zink pops by frequently. He’s a staunch supporter of the salon who originally pushed his wife to elevate her sights from being a hairstylist to owning her own business.
“I just wanted to be a hairdresser and raise my family,” Barrie Zink said. But her husband prevailed, and she operated her salon and later bought the building where she worked.
“I just never thought I could, but I did,” she said.
Now, she’s acting as her daughter’s No. 1 champion. Although the two women are business partners, the senior Zink sees her daughter eventually taking over the business, which serves about 250 clients a month and employs two-part-time hairstylists and a part-time esthetician. For now, she’s grooming her daughter to do just that.
“When my mom gets frustrated, it’s because she wants the best,” the younger Zink said appreciatively, adding in a relaxed tone, “She’s the yin to my yang,” of her high-energy mother, who’s built a strong reputation over the years.
“Whitney has big shoes to fill and she's doing a great job filling them,” said Cappie Troyer, who’s been a client of Barrie Zink for more than 30 years. She owns Troyer Liquors, across the street from the hair salon. And over the years, she’s developed a strong allegiance to the older Zink — and not just because the salon’s location is convenient. “She just knows me. Whatever you tell her, she knows what to do. She’s a perfectionist,” Troyer said.
Troyer remembers when Whitney Zink was a little girl, hanging around her mom’s salon. So, as loyal as she is to her mother, Troyer is rooting for the younger Zink’s success as well. “I am so excited for her,” she said.
An evolving community
The Hereford community has undergone a lot of changes, even since Whitney Zink was a teenager. She recalls being a student at Hereford High School just a decade ago, when all students were required to take a tractor test as part of the school’s core curriculum; the then-agricultural focus reflected the area’s agrarian roots.
Now, says Whitney Zink, she doesn’t see nearly the number of big pickup trucks in the school’s parking lot on her way to work at The Zone, and the tractor test is no longer a high school requirement — both signs that farming, though still a way of life for some in the area, is dwindling.
Hereford resident Troyer says there are also fewer family-owned businesses in Hereford today than there once were, although when Barrie Zink opened Expectations there were two salons in the area and today there are four. Still, the community remains close-knit, and the locals appreciate the small-town feel of The Zone. “It’s the best atmosphere. All the clients interact. Everyone is in on the conversation,” Troyer said.
While the salon retains its intimate local feel, the owners welcome customers from outside the Hereford Zone. They draw from several nearby towns, including White Marsh, Towson, Hunt Valley, and York, Pa.
“When I started out, people felt: How could you get a quality cut in this area?” Barrie Zink said. She has worked hard over the years to shed that reputation, as has her daughter, who keeps abreast of new trends in hair and makeup. She recently became certified as a lash extensionist, and let her clients know on social media. “I’m pretty active posting my work online,” said Whitney Zink, who, like other young savvy business owners, regularly shares relevant news on Facebook and Instagram.
Whether clients are looking for the latest trends or more classic styles, they can find it at The Zone. “Barrie is good with the 73-year-olds. I don’t like the new styles. But Whitney is on the cutting edge,” said the long-term client Troyer.