Betty “Chelle” Neff had a drive to style hair from a young age when she intuitively knew by age ten that this was her calling while growing up in Abilene, Texas. By 16, she enrolled in cosmetology school; by 18, she became licensed. Chelle was hungry to learn more and keep challenging herself to upgrade to higher-end salons before finally residing 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 her grandmother’s name (and whom she is named after).
In January 2005, it was time to hang out the Urban Betty name on her shingle, opening up her first salon in Central Austin. She opened and gained one employee within six months 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 the owner of one of the largest independent hair salons in Austin, Texas. So successful was the first salon, a second Urban Betty salon that opened in February 2019. In 2017 she also launched a series of education classes for the general public and stylists called Betty Bootcamp.
In 2019, Chelle joined Impact Austin with over 500 other members who pool resources for a more considerable impact. Impact Austin is now one of the nation’s largest women’s philanthropy groups and is dedicated to helping women achieve their full philanthropic capacity.
In November 2021, Chelle launched Urban Betty Haircare to support and empower women by donating 1% of the profit from the hair care line to support female entrepreneurs. She chose Big Austin, a Texas-based non-profit because they are a leader in powering self-sustainable small business development by financing women entrepreneurs in Texas. They were the non-profit that gave her the first loan to start Urban Betty. Chelle’s goal is to evolve Urban Betty into a household brand that globally empowers female entrepreneurs through a percentage of sales.
Early in her career, Chelle placed 2nd in the nationwide 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 11 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 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 & 2019, The Austin American Statesman named Urban Betty the ‘Best of the Best. In 2019 Chelle was named as one of the BEST CEOs by Austin Business Journal. In 2018, 2019, 2020, & 2021 Inc. 5000 named Urban Betty as one of the fastest-growing privately held companies.
In 2020 Chelle was named one of the 102 CENTRAL TEXAS WOMEN OF DISTINCTION PROFILES IN POWER AWARDS by Austin Business Journal. And most importantly, Austin Woman Magazine Named Urban Betty with Chelle Neff as BUSINESS OF THE YEAR 2020. In 2021, Urban Betty was named in the Inc. 5000 Regionals: Texas 2021 as one of The Top 250 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in Texas.
In 2021 & 2022, Urban Betty was named one of the Best Places to Work by the Austin Business Journal, and Chelle was named a 2021 Austin Business Journal Profiles In Power Winner. Chelle was featured in the 2021 October issue of Forbes and Fortune magazine.
Urban Betty was named the “Best of Austin 2022” in the salon category by The Austin Chronicle.
She is also a regularly featured contributor for Thrive Magazine and Authority Global, and nationally syndicated Beauty Podcasts interview Chelle for her advice and inspiration in the industry. You can find those articles and podcasts here.
No stranger to innovation, Chelle designed and developed an 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 city’s unique character. The tour has expanded to cities such as New Orleans and Houston, and they came out with their first book, Weird Homes: The People and Places That Keep Austin Strangely Wonderful.