Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Denise Meikle, owner of Salon Origins, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am the owner and operator of a quaint little boutique hair salon in the heart of downtown Vancouver. My clientele consists of a woman who is looking for luxurious and healthy hair with the best hair colouring products available and a hair colour master that can transform their hair into Hollywood hair.
Tell us about yourself
My earliest memory of Santa Claus was when I was four years old and had asked for the doll head with hair curlers. I had that doll head until I was about 15 years old. Instead of doing homework in my bedroom, I would sit against my bedroom door and play with her hair. 2 months before I graduated from high school; I started working in a hair salon after school and on weekends. Once I graduated, I started a two-year apprenticeship at Vancouver Community College. In 1986, I completed my program and had worked behind a hairdressing chair for nearly four decades. I became a salon owner in 2010 and have managed to grow my business into the thriving business it is today. After the 12 years, it has taken me to get to where I am now, no challenge or obstacle is too big to handle as I first thought it was for my first couple of years. This new prospect has enabled me to concentrate on giving the best customer care to my clients and thoroughly enjoy what I love doing... great hair!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is building my business all on my own. I had originally opened my business with a friend of mine. To start, my job was taking care of building the team of hairdressers and clientele, while his job was to take care of the administration side of the business. After just the first four months of being open, I knew it was the biggest mistake I had ever made. It became very clear my friend became very overwhelmed and was in over his head. So, he left, and I was left alone holding this "new baby" that I had no idea how to care for and had a mountain of debt. For the first two years, I couldn't afford a washer/dryer for all of the wet towels and gowns we went through each day. So, I would walk home each night with an IKEA full of laundry and bring it back each morning. The day I had a washer/dryer installed was the day I got my life back! It has been 12 years since then, and I have created a booming business through great customer service, won several awards in the hair industry, and my business has survived many setbacks, as well as a three-month shut down with the pandemic. I am so proud of what I have accomplished, and more importantly... I am proud of who I am today as a business owner and as a person in my community.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The first year! Only 1 out of 10 businesses are still standing after their first year. I didn't realize all of the different hats an owner has to wear to keep a business up and running. From front desk reception ( your first impression of the world) to service provider to bookkeeper to advertiser to an administrator (that's many different hats within itself!) to managing people to entertainer/life coach. With all of this being said, managing my work/life balance has become extremely important... especially since I had a taste of it during the three-month shut down a couple of years ago. I have figured out what's a priority and where/when to schedule work-related meetings. Learning how to listen to my mind, heart, and body has helped me to hone in on what's best for my business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The first thing I tell people is to hire a business coach. I was able to afford to work with one after my second year, and it was the best investment I made for myself. Not only did I learn that I wasn't the only owner to go through the hardships that I did in my first two years, but I finally learned how to properly budget each month and see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have since had two other coaches in different areas of business that have helped to open my mind to other areas and exercised my imagination on how to grow my business.
Secondly, never stop educating yourself on your craft. In the hair and fashion industry, style, products, and technology are constantly changing. Lastly, don't be afraid to take a day off. It is extremely important to take just one day off a week in order to recharge your batteries. Just like when we are told when taking off on an airplane, if there's an emergency, place the oxygen mask on yourself first so that you are able to take of others.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
If I or anyone else can do it, so can you! Do your best to keep a positive attitude and know that anything can happen. Don't have expectations but be prepared for anything. Mistakes are discoveries, and you'll see later on that the mountains in my way are really just molehills.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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