By Sierra Rains-Moad
The weather may be overcast and gloomy, but when customers step into The Social Club, it’s as if a 70 degree ocean breeze is blowing across their skin and warm rays of sun are beaming down on their face.
Maybe it’s the glowing ambiance of bright colors and bright lights, or maybe it’s the plethora of trendy handmade treasures, but visitors may feel like they’re “not in Oklahoma anymore” because of the Los Angeles energy co-owners and longtime friends Dana Scott and Erica Smith incorporate into their business.
The Social Club, located off of 210 E. Main St., functions as both a salon and a shop full of handmade goods crafted by many local and regional merchants. Several of the items in the shop are centered around the idea of social gatherings or gift giving and include candles, prints, postcards, jewelry and more.
Guests are offered locally brewed coffee and other refreshments, as well as many small, but detailed things like a hot towel in the salon to make them feel more relaxed and at home.
Dan Schemm, executive director of Visit Norman and chair of the Norman Downtowners Association, said The Social Club, like many other businesses along Main Street, has played a part in the revitalization of downtown Norman.
“The Social Club is a great neighbor, they’ve been participants in the art walks and supporters of all of the events– they really add a lot with not only the salon portion, but also the retail portion of the store,” Schemm said.
The Social Club resides at the center of many festivals held in downtown Norman. Scott said The Social Club serves snacks and cocktails on each 2nd Friday Norman Art Walk, while also supporting and featuring regional artists by displaying their work.
“It’s fun to have our shop be a part of town that is doing things on a regular basis and helps draw people in,” Scott said. “We still get customers that come in every second Friday that have never been in before or didn’t even know we existed.”
Building a vision together
Scott and Smith spent a good amount of their lives growing up in Oklahoma. As undergraduate students at the University of Oklahoma, the two spent many late nights talking of what their futures might be like.
“I would always say that Erica has been my dreamer friend,” Scott said.
Time passed by and Smith graduated in 2006 with a degree in political science. Scott graduated the same year with a degree in public relations.
Following the conclusion of their collegiate careers, their once entangled lives separated as they found themselves in far away places like New York and Los Angeles– until finally, fate brought them back together again.
“In a lot of ways, if I look back on the years leading up to this actually happening it makes sense that this is where we are now,” Scott said.
When Scott moved back to Oklahoma, she began pursuing jewelry making and event planning on the side from her full time job. It wasn’t until Smith came to her with a unique proposition that Scott decided to pursue her passions full time.
While Scott was assessing her own passions out of college, Smith was working at Lollie’s Beauty Bar in Norman. But in 2011, Smith decided it was time to take a leap of faith and branch out on her own. Only, she didn’t want to do it without her fellow dreamer.
“When I was kind of branching out on my own I was like ‘Dana, would you want to be a part of this with me?’– not knowing what we were doing at all,” Smith said.
By January of 2012, Scott and Smith were the official owners of a small, 500 square foot boutique and salon. Only a year later, their business expanded into a 2600 square foot space in downtown Norman.
With everything moving forward so fast, Smith said it “was a big bite” and a bit daunting at first. But even in the hard times Scott and Smith said it’s their friendship that has kept them going and that has brought out the best of both worlds in their joint business.
More than just business partners
Their two “yin and yang like” personalities work together to create a unique atmosphere and experience for every guest that walks through their doors.
“Dana is an amazing party planner, that’s just a huge gift she has. She can make an experience out of something really simple,” Smith said.
Scott said her favorite part of running the shop is being able to give guests a personal experience beyond what they would get at a superstore. Scott makes many of the items at The Social Club herself and even those items which she doesn’t make have their own unique backstory to share with customers.
“I just like to think about ‘What are the things that I would like to be given?’ and try and create them,” Scott said. “I think that makes buying a gift or putting something in your own home even more special when you know the story behind it.”
Both Smith and Scott work in the salon, where they have shared many special moments with clients for years. To Smith, her field of work serves a purpose far beyond just styling people’s hair.
“When you’re a hair stylist, you’re a part of people’s lives,” Smith said. “I’ve had some clients I’ve done for 13 years. You’re a part of these people’s world every four to eight weeks so you’re living in the ups and downs and all arounds of life with them.”
But it’s not always easy being the owners of a local business. Some nights are spent filing paperwork for hours upon hours and when something goes wrong, Scott and Smith are the ones who have to make sure everything is alright by the end of the day.
“We really are a small business, we do everything,” Scott said. “We have to wear so many hats, and some of the hats we’re really good at and some of the hats we’re terrible at– we look horrible in them.”
Even in those long nights and difficult times, Scott and Smith push each other to be better.
“I think that’s what’s so hard about owning a business is when you don’t have any support to keep going, so I think we’ve been able to be each other’s support in times where it’s like ‘This is so hard’,” Smith said.
Sharing personal connections
In the five years The Social Club has spent nestled between two buildings off of Main Street, downtown Norman has grown into one of the three major centers of entertainment, Schemm said.
“Back in the mid to late 90s and early 2000s, when I was in school, there were only a hand full of places, at best, downtown. There weren’t a lot of reasons to come downtown,” Schemm said. “Now, if people are thinking about ‘Where should we go eat dinner tonight, what should we go do?’ downtown is one of the places that is top of mind.”
Scott said The Social Club has caught the eye of many people along the road and something about the shop’s unique aesthetic keeps customers coming back.
Scott said she has many fond memories of interactions with customers.
Once, a couple road tripping through Oklahoma was trying to decide whether they were going to stay in Norman for the night and when they came into the boutique the next day, they said they decided to stay based on their desire to see the shop, Scott said.
The couple then shopped and chatted with Scott for several hours.
“That is like the greatest compliment you can ever get,” Scott said.
It is those experiences and connections Scott and Smith make through their business that truly bring their vision of a “social club” alive.
“It’s just fun to be like ‘We got to be a part of your life for a little bit’,” Smith said.