Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ian Marc, owner of Imagine Salon & Spa, located in Bedford, NS, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Our business is in the business of touching people, inspiring people, communicating with people, and, best of all making people feel and look beautiful! One of my cosmetology teachers said, "we don't make people beautiful we just prove it" That statement has stayed with me for more than 40 years! When I decided to open our salon in 1986 as Ian Marc's Salon, my father once told me, "Son, if you ever own a salon, name it after yourself," I asked him why, and he replied, "because you'll fight for it!" That was 1975! My father passed away 11 months later, so he never had the chance to see how I made out in my career and for me to tell him that I followed his advice. Then in 2008, we rebranded to reflect the possibilities of what we 'imagined,' knowing we wanted the salon to reflect more of the team. I also would not want to sell my name. We are an inclusive salon, not exclusive. I am very grateful to have had the pleasure of a beautiful career and am now in my 45th year!

Tell us about yourself

I became a hairstylist on a bet! Yes, a hairstylist that I went to knew I was looking for work, and he said I should apply to be a stylist. I didn't take him seriously until I began to think about the possibilities. I applied primarily for my unemployment cheques to come in. I needed to show I was actively looking for work. That evening when I returned to where I was living, my friends started commenting on my newly styled haircut, and I love a debate, so I said, "I am thinking about becoming a hairstylist." The evening turned into the opportunities I sought, with jokes and poking fun at the idea. The following week I followed up and liked what I saw.

After several years working in Toronto, I decided to move back to Nova Scotia with the intent of traveling Europe to further my skills. Although my plan did not go as I had intended, I met my wife, we spent four months in Europe, and we settled back in Halifax, opening our first salon in 1986. I became an educator for Zotos, a permanent wave company. This experience taught me the importance of consultation and understanding customers' needs. I wanted to share what I knew and inspire cosmetologists to be very successful if they put in the work.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My most significant accomplishment as a business owner is the honor of knowing I have impacted people's lives and those who worked alongside me during the thirty-six years we have been in business. Accolades reflect the moment, and I want to reflect on the entirety of my career. There are so many beautiful moments that it is hard to mention just one. Providing education and inspiring people is an accomplishment I will be grateful for long into retirement.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Being a business owner is not easy. Today's world is rapidly changing; being a business owner is not for the faint of heart. The internet and cell phones have many benefits; however, I also believe technology has pitfalls. Navigating, making decisions, and managing people is the most challenging part of the business. A salon/spa has many moving parts, from day-to-day operations to clients, inventory, staff, and marketing. Sometimes, decisions are quick and sometimes without the proper time to reflect. In the end, living with a decision you made has both its merits and disappointments. During the past two years, I have learned about cash flow and how important understand the difference between what I want and what I can have.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Building a solid business is like building a house without a strong foundation; the chances of failure increase exponentially. Being good at your craft is a tiny part of being a business owner: a beauty salon requires many skills, an ever-evolving vision, excellent communication skills, strong people skills, and a desire to be a good leader. Long before one decides to go into business because they think they can do it better than their current employer, think long and hard and be prepared.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Being in business is like layering clothes for the weather; you shed some clothes to reflect the warmth. However, if you don't put your layers of clothing back on as the temperature cools, you might end up with frostbite. Bottom line, don't get bit because you weren't prepared. When I think about what my wife and I have been able to do for the past 38 years, being asked to talk with your readers is pretty satisfying.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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