Founder of Urban Betty
Betty “Chelle” Neff was driven to style hair from a young age when she intuitively knew by age 10 that this was her calling while growing up in Abilene, Texas. By the age of 16 she was enrolled in cosmetology school and by 18, she was officially licensed. Chelle was hungry to learn more and keep challenging herself to upgrade to higher end salons before finally nabbing her own chair at a Salon Suite space. Being independent led to a need for a business identity. And thus the Urban Betty brick and mortar was born, inspired by the the name Betty which is her grandmother’s name (and who she is named after).
In January 2005 it was time to hang out the Urban Betty name on her own shingle, opening up her first salon in Central Austin. She opened and gained one employee within 6 months (who is still employed by her to this day) and only had six chairs to start. Chelle ran all aspects of Urban Betty from reception to accounting, and styling clients to promotions and marketing. She firmly believed that “if you build it, they will come,” and so she persevered and after an expansion in September 2015 is now owner of one of the largest independent hair salons in Austin, Texas. So successful was the first salon a second Urban Betty salon will be opening in January of 2019. In 2017 she also launched her own series of education classes for the general public and stylists called Betty Bootcamp.
She constantly pushes her own limits with carving out time for giving back to the community with her involvement in Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Austin Classical Guitar, Movember, Breast Cancer Awareness and Austin SafePlace. Her salon is also a permanent drop off location for Project Princess, a non-profit for teenage girls that provides gently worn formal dresses for prom. In 2018 she joined the Advisory Board on Cosmetology for the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.
Early in her career Chelle placed 2nd in the nation-wide Wella hair colorist of the year contest. Urban Betty has continued that award-winning trend by being named one of the top 200 salons in the U.S. by Salon Today Magazine 7 times. Her stylists have won an Austin Fashion Week Award, a Golden Boot for Best Hairstylist 2011 and numerous awards from the Austin Chronicle Best Of Awards. In 2014 Chelle received a golden boot from Austin Fashion Week for Philanthropist of the Year. In 2016 Chelle was awarded as the Entrepreneur & Startup of the Year by Austin Under Forty. In 2016 & 2018 she was a finalist in the Women's Way Awards for the Service Industry category. In 2018 Urban Betty was named the 'Best of the Best' by The Austin American Statesman. In 2018 Urban Betty was also named as one of the fastest growing privately held companies by Inc. 5000. Chelle has been interviewed for nationally syndicated Beauty Podcasts.
No stranger to innovation, Chelle designed and developed her own app, FyleStyle, which allows stylists to track client information and color formulas.
And, she and her husband David J. Neff created the Austin Weird Homes Tour – a self-paced, self-driving tour of Austin homes that reflects the unique character of the city. The tour has expanded to cities such as New Orleans and Houston and their first book, Weird Homes: The People and Places That Keep Austin Strangely Wonderful was released in February 2018.