Local Mom and Daughter Balance Business, and Each Other

By Avra Sullivan

“We are just another generation of working women”, says Sherry Layman, owner of Merle Norman Cosmetic and Day Spa who works with her daughter Tammy Layman Harper, who in turn owns Kentmorr Restaurant. I sat down with this mother-daughter business team to see how they do it.

Sherry has been a hair stylist since 1975. When her son in-law noticed the for sale sign in the Merle Norman store in the Kent Town plaza in Chester, he suggested she and Tammy buy it. In 2000, they did. “My daughter is the best business person I know” says Sherry. Tammy in return admits to “knowing nothing about hair and makeup.” The beginning of a beautiful partnership was born. This mother daughter collaboration continues as Tammy’s daughters work at Kentmorr which Tammy and her husband Dave have owned since 1993.

With the stress of owning 2 busy businesses, plus family and other demands, these ladies rely on each other. “We talk 10 times a day”, says Sherry. As we are speaking about their constant contact with each other, Tammy gets a text from her older daughter who is in finals week at college. The relationship bond is not the only thing that trickles through the generations. Tammy’s daughters are learning important life skills as they work at the restaurant and by watching their mom and grandmother work together. And drama junkies don’t get your hopes up for any cat fights! “There really hasn’t been any contention”, says Tammy. While they have had some ups and downs over the years, they have always kept the balance between their business and personal lives.

To Sherry and Tammy, “family” isn’t just blood relatives. “Our employees are our family as well” As we chat, Brit a Merle Norman employee, is busy getting the store ready for opening. Sherry talks about a recent surgery that kept her out of the store for a while. “Without Brit, we wouldn’t have kept the doors open”. Moments later, Jen walks in. They all talk like friends, more than employee/employer. As Jen talks about a great dinner she had at Kentmorr, you can feel Sherry’s words lived out. For Tammy, it is the same at the restaurant. They have over 30 employees working with them, even a mother-daughter pair. “It’s about family”, says Tammy.

Merle Norman is located at 10 Kent Town Plaza in Chester. They offer full range of Merle Norman cosmetics and skin care products as well as manicures, pedicures, and facials. In addition, Sherry Layman adds her experience as a hair stylist offering a hair salon. They can be reached at 410-643-9007

Kentmorr Reseraunt is at 910 Kentmorr Rd in Stevensville. Enjoy a beautiful view of the Chesapeake Bay as well as award winning crab cakes, crabs, fish, oysters and a Tiki Bar serving up specialty drinks and entertainment. They also can help with your wedding or special event or even host a company crab feast. More info can be found on their Facebook page, at www.kentmorr.com or by calling 410-643-1362

In photo: Left to Right, Sherry Layman and daughter Tammy Layman Harper