Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in hair styling but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Antonella Biefeni of Citrus Hair Salon based in Vancouver, Canada.
Tell us about yourself
I was a stylist for more than 20 years and worked in a number of different salons. I found that there were a few things lacking. First, taking care of the stylists emotionally and making sure that they make enough to be able to be comfortable financially. A lot of salons were full of drama that went unchecked, the owners and managers really didn't care how you were feeling, and you had to call in sick if you ever wanted the day off other than your vacation time, which was strictly capped at 2 weeks.
This is why the majority of salons are now chair rental. Stylists got fed up and wanted to do their own thing so they could have control over their lives. . As well, customer service was often completely lacking or inadequate at all the salons I had worked at. They did everything they could to never refund a client or avoid doing a redo for free, which is boloney if a client is unhappy.
I wanted to change that culture and way of doing business. I am motivated by my team, and seeing them thrive and flourish. It brings me joy to hand out paychecks that enable my staff to live a good life and not worry about their finances. And I love seeing our clients happy and even more happy when things go wrong and they really see how our customer service works.
What's your business and who are your customers?
We specialize in hair but our true work lies in making people feel great about themselves. The hair business is part art, part skill and part psychology. In other words, it's not just about doing hair and at Citrus we see the human side of our guests and cater to their emotional well-being. How they look is so interconnected with how they feel. You can't separate those.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I love having a team that is mostly drama free (of course there are little hiccups, we are a family after all :-)) having work-life balance and making a good paycheck. Incorporating a wellness program into what we do has helped to create a healthier team that is much better at dealing with their customers needs.
But the biggest accomplishments are seeing the friendships that have developed that will last a lifetime, and seeing my team grow and flourish emotionally.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things I think is managing expectations. Nobody really knows 100%, what goes on behind the scenes, and nor should they really have to worry about that. There's a bit of isolation in that. When you make decisions, they're not always popular with everyone so you have to manage different personalities and different expectations. Not everybody is happy with everything.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Number one bit of advice....be a great manager. This means caring about your staff and being able to manage them in an assertive but kind and fair way.
Number two.. get somebody that can help you manage your money and finances. I made that mistake and the first few years I was struggling.
Number three... Have clear goals of what your brand image is, who your customers are and be consistent in whatever you decide your protocols are to support this.
Anything else you'd like to add?
In this post covid world, we've all taken the learnings and utilized them to create an even better business by focusing even more on emotional needs. The pandemic has made us realize what's important and it's forced a lot of businesses to change the way that they do their business.
We have the opportunity, because we deal with clients in an intimate way, to really give them the human interaction that they have been missing for such a long time. It's made us get better at what we do.
Where can people find you online?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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