I am writing this article on Tuesday, September 21st, 1999 as our front page counter closes in on 1,000,000 visitors. I have been watching the counter for the past 3 days with lots of mixed emotions about The Hair Boutique.
I was waxing poetically about my thoughts when Jeff asked me to share them for the benefit of all the HairBoutique.com visitors who have helped make this special event a reality.
The reason this article is titled Thanks A Million is because my number one thought as we pass this mark is to thank all of the loyal visitors and friends of the Hair Boutique over the past 18 months.
It All Started..........
The Hair Boutique site was officially launched in March of 1998 after a period of personal reflection and questioning. In reality, The Hair Boutique was preceded by The Long Hair Video site which was launched in February of 1997.
The Long Hair Video site was conceived one day in the Fall of 1996 while I was getting my ends trimmed at the shop of my long hair specialist.
My stylist had long hair videos that he needed to sell, I had lots of business acumen and my best friend, Jeff Hines, had lots of software savvy.
Ever the optimist, I encouraged my long hair specialist to give the Internet a whirl. Next thing we knew, Jeff and I and my stylist were "doing the Internet thing". The Long Hair Video site was born.
Our First Guiding Light
A guiding light for the first Long Hair Video site was Frank Ploenissen's Long Hair Site. Not only did I visit the site on a weekly basis to look at the long hair photos and read the long hair tips, I volunteered to be one of Frank's ladies of the week.
Frank honored me by displaying my long hair photos as his Lady of The Week (one of the photos that appeared is to the right).
Frank also took me and our new fledging site under his wing and offered some advice and suggestions. Frank was no less than great not to mention charming and funny.
To show our thanks and appreciation for Frank, when The Hair Boutique launched their link of the week awards, which eventually became the Silver Hairbrush award, one of the very first awards was given to Frank and his Long Hair site.
It seems very fitting that I take this celebration of one million visitors as an opportunity to thank Frank, wherever you are, for all of his ongoing support and Webmastering wisdoms that he has shared over the years and that have helped us to grow Hair Boutique into the site it is.
No Overnight Millionaires
The original Long Hair Video site was very different than the current Hair Boutique site. Since the key purpose of the first site was to advertise, market and display the long hair videos, the site had a completely different focus than Hair Boutique.
Consequently The Long Hair Video page had a very small Gallery of long haired women (many from the videos), clips of the actual videos, biography of the long hair specialist, photos of the long hair specialist's clients and a very small links page.
Needless to say, Internet traffic was not beating a hasty path to The Long Hair Video site. To try and offer more information to attract a following, a new hair & beauty book review section was added along with the very original HairTalk message board.
While we received lots of great feedback on our Long Hair Video site, the video sales were disappointing to the long hair stylist who had visions of dollar signs dancing in his head. He decided to leave the Internet behind just 8 months after we had launched the Long Hair Video site.
Jeff and I were left with a pile of bills and a big decision. Should we continue the site or leave it behind?
After much soul searching Jeff and I chose to keep the best parts of the old site (Hair Talk and Links) and rebuild a lot of new parts from scratch.
After many months of tinkering, we unveiled The Hair Boutique in March of 1998. Jeff and I have never looked back.
The Hair Boutique is now a major part of our lives and the people we have met through the site are like our family.
Since the Hair Boutique was reborn, we have slowly added lots of new features from multiple new message boards (Personals, Hair Bloopers, Hair Loss, Hair Announcements, Hair Politics & Celebrity Hairspray) to regular features (JerkyFlea, Hair-o-Scopes) to all sorts of new galleries.
I have to thank everyone who has sent us emails with suggestions and comments on ways that Hair Boutique can be better and more user friendly.
Hair Boutique Advisors & Friends
Shortly after the new Hair Boutique site was launched we asked for volunteers to serve as our "advisors" to help Jeff and I figure out how to best serve the needs of our visitors. Our first advisor was artist and hair connoisseur Neil Anderson from Chicago.
Not only did Neil help Jeff and I with ideas, suggestions and hair tips, he took the time to visit with us personally. Many times Neil called us to warn us about problems with the site. Neil was a major blessing and provided great support and help to The Hair Boutique.
Dave Decker from Florida is another of our valuable advisors and has become our dear friend. Besides being an ongoing Hair Talk contributor, Dave rolled up his shirt sleeves and cranked out some great articles and product reviews.
The photos of his very long hair were a major hit and got us initially noticed by The Mining Company site (thanks Shirley).
Clare from Wisconsin and our friend the chemist, Laura Jane, also played "advisory" roles and helped in many ways.
Besides our "official" advisors we had lots of other visitors help The Hair Boutique in hundreds of different ways from Noreen who shared her gorgeous hair photos with us to Cher who shared her personal hair related well water disasters to Valentine who sent us great tips on rag rollers and pin curlers.
The list is endless but also includes the beautiful Tamara of Canada with her great articles (I miss your emails Tamara) and Jade 21 who turned us all onto Aubrey Organics.
I also have to thank John for sending in his great hair photos, Sherry for sharing her curly haired trials and tribulations, and all the great visitors that shared their individual hair care product testing results.
Fellow Webmasters & Friends
Another great gift that the Hair Boutique has bestowed on us is the friendship and support from so many other webmasters of hair and beauty sites.
Tommy at Hairdos.com has been a great friend to the site, not to mention the fact that he sends me great jokes. Mike Trobee is a true prince amongst webmasters and would require an article devoted to just to him to cover all that he has done to help The Hair Boutique.
Many other sites helped us in many ways from George Caroll, to Michael at The Beauty Shoppe Archives, Dave Tichnor at International Long Hair Club, Marci's Retro Site, Victor at the Men's Long Hair Site, all the good folks at Ouidad and the folks (especially Rachel) at Wild Web.
I know I am probably forgetting someone, just like they do in all the Awards shows, but I want to thank everyone who has helped us nurture, grow and evolve the Hair Boutique site over the past 18 months.
This thanks goes to all the participants on all the hair related email lists that have supported and encouraged me to make Hair Boutique a better place.
Hair Boutique Regulars
While this article is starting to read like a long......Academy Awards thank you speech, I can't close........until I thank:
Last but most importantly, I have to thank my best friend and business partner, Jeffrey Hines, who never flinches when I ask him to open his checkbook wider, shoot just one more Marketplace photo, fix just one more bug or add just one more message board.
Of course I always want him to do just one more thing...yesterday.
Thank you Jeff. Thank you everyone. Thanks a million. Hope to see you all at The Hair Boutique for many years to come.
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- Revised Publication Date: 01/18/10
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