CNY Facecandy

The Heart of Beauty

Story and photos by Susie Ippolito

The beauty industry is notoriously, well, ugly. The environment of a salon is usually aesthetically quite beautiful but that beauty is often shadowed by an atmosphere in which professional egos prevail at the expense of talent and customer service.

The energy at CNY Facecandy, located in Syracuse’s Inner Harbor, is noticeably different. The vibe is intentionally professional yet laid-back, sweet, happy and friendly. The positive energy is palpable when you walk in the door. You are instantly aware you are about to experience something you haven’t experienced before in a hair salon.

Tabetha Carnes, owner and founder of CNY Facecandy, did not set out to be a salon owner or an industry leader. After 10 years of a successful at-home salon business, her home and her life could no longer handle the volume of business she created. So, when the opportunity to open a salon presented itself, she didn’t change much about her business structure. Tabetha’s business plan is simple: be proactive about education and run her salon straight from the heart.

“I never thought it was in the cards for me to be a salon owner,” Tabetha said. “But it was always my dream to change the industry. I want to educate and share knowledge and to give back to our community.”

A fresh take

Tabetha’s approach is unique. After experiencing the negativity competitiveness can create in the beauty industry, she made it her intention to “change the cloud that is over this industry.” One point of difference at CNY Facecandy is the hiring qualifications.

“I have a very specific thing that I look for in a stylist,” Tabetha said. “Attitude and personality are more important than talent. If I hire someone who is laid-back, sweet and smiley, who has drive and personality, I can help that person grow.”

Education has always been a propelling factor in Tabetha’s career. She proactively sought out her own education when she worked out of her house and shares this passion with her team.

“I am always looking for new classes for us to take,” she said.

Tabetha and her team of stylists travel throughout the country to learn from the best in the business. Then, they bring their knowledge back to Syracuse and invite stylists from all over Central New York to come and learn new skills at her salon.

The whole CNY Facecandy team participates in the classes hosted at the salon and Tabetha does everything she can to empower her staff to be educators themselves one day.

“That’s my vision for the business,” she said. “I want to have this powerhouse of strong women all around me. I want to create this vision for them.”

A generous spirit

Tabetha has a strong desire to change the hair industry in Syracuse through collaborative education.

“It’s my path,” she said about her knowledge-sharing approach to the industry. “I really am here to help other people.”

She’s not just looking to educate her own staff, but stylists throughout Central New York.

Her authenticity and kindness make a big difference in these efforts. Her approach is refreshing and, even after all her training and talent, she knows that nobody knows it all.

“I’ve made mistakes and I’ve learned from everything that I have done and I share that with other stylists,” Tabetha said. “I am right here behind the chair with them and I am still learning every day. I think it’s really relatable when you don’t walk into a room saying, ‘Here I am! I know everything!’ That’s not me at all.”

Empowerment through leadership

Tabetha’s commitment to education is equaled only by her commitment to empowerment and how those two values interact to create an enthusiastic environment. Her motivation is clear and present in her team.

“I want to have a space where women feel empowered and beautiful — to do things Syracuse hasn’t seen, to lift other women up and bring the change that we need,” she said. “I want to bring stylists together to be the best that we can be.”

Constant praise, encouragement and building up her team’s confidence is a top priority for Tabetha. The result is a team of empowered individuals who share Tabetha’s values and want to work hard and make her proud.

The team is also kept focused on their business.

“Every three months, we have a salon meeting and each stylist has a goal book,” she said. “I have them write down a three-month, six-month and one-year goal. At the meetings, we discuss what they have done to work on the goal and what I can do to help them reach their goal.”

They brainstorm as a team, formulate ideas together and come in on their days off to watch each other work and learn from one another. Tabetha aims to give her team the freedom and inspiration to build their own businesses.

“That’s where I get the most out of my business — that feeling that I have done some good,” she said. “That I have helped my team and helped other stylists.”

Next steps

While Tabetha is finally at a place in her career where she feels she can breathe, enjoy her family and have a bit of free time, her dreams still call her to educate and inspire as many stylists as possible.

Her future goals include opening an educational studio, “where stylists from other salons can walk in and learn and not feel intimidated,” she said.

“I want to show stylists that there is something different available to them,” Tabetha said, “because I believe in my heart that there is a better way.” SWM

CNY Facecandy is located at 373 Spencer St., Syracuse. For more information, visit

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