Interview with Jazma Salon owner, Asha MacLeod
Why did you open your salon?
What keeps you motivated?
Kids. Kids who are passionate about hair. When I teach young people about how hair grows out of the scalp. I love to teach them about hair textures, why hair gets dry and other things about black hair. I enjoy when kids come to me with questions and challenge me to do more of my own research. Then I have the opportunity to come back to them with my own research and see their excitement. That’s what gives me the energy to continue every day.
Who inspires you?
The artistic part of me admires artists like Vidal Sassoon and Trevor Sorbie and the black artists that work with them like Jon Atkinson. The first time I saw black hair move was on a Vidal Sassoon stage. I gasped and turned to my mom and said, “I want to do that!”
How many staff do you have?
I have 4 stylists, 1 colour technician and 3 assistants/apprentices.
What has been your biggest success?
My biggest success has been creating a product line for semi-natural hair and natural hair. We not only created a product line but also encouraged people to enjoy the beauty of afro-textured hair in my seminars and my training. Twenty years ago in Atlanta I started teaching people to embrace afro-textured hair. I feel like I have pioneered the idea.
What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge was business. Because I am passionate about hair and my art, having to do business was a challenge. Dealing with employees has been especially difficult. I don’t like training and then not seeing my employees want to pay it forward. I put so much into giving and sharing. I expect that at least one out of every hundred should be paying it forward! I don’t see that kind of sharing and that’s a little hurtful and challenging.
What do you want you business to look like in 10 years?
I would like to see a bunch of little Jazma’s all over the world with our Kerasoft products. Not because I want to leave a legacy but because I am concerned about the black dollar. The black hair industry is the only industry in the world that blacks have that they can actually rotate their dollar.
Currently, a dollar circulates in the Asian community for a month, in the Jewish community for twenty days, and in the white community for seventeen days. A dollar circulates in the black community for six hours.
What I would like to see in ten years is that my business trains and educates young people on the fact that the only way for the black dollar to grow in our community is in the black hair industry. Black chemists will create the product. Black distributors will sell it, and black people will purchase it. That is the way to strengthen the black dollar. If we don’t do it, who will?
What advice would you give to new Canadian salons or hairdressers?
I would say to remember two things:
We are in the service business. We are here to serve. We just happen to do hair. If you think of it that way it will make you more successful.
Continue to educate yourself and share the knowledge you acquire.
What do you specialize in?
Semi-natural hair, hair cutting, and we have one of the best colourists in the world.
I want to explain what I mean by semi-natural hair. Once you put heat on your hair it affects the sulfur bonds so your hair is not natural anymore. Once you pull on your hair with extensions or braids you weaken the elasticity of your hair; the colour from the extensions then bleeds onto your hair and your hair is not natural anymore. When you colour it, it’s not natural anymore.
Here, we say no hair is altogether natural because it has been affected one way or another. So we specialize in embracing natural textures.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
There are many myths out there on the Internet. I would like consumers to think of solubility of products before they use them.
Remember: if you want you hair hydrated it can only come from water.
If you want your scalp to heal from the abuse of tight ponytails or extensions there is no solution but oxygen. Try getting simple and logical. There is no miracle in a jar. If you want your hair to be long and healthy—avoid certain things. Once your hair is abused and dead you have to grow it out all over again. Don’t trust everything you read or hear on the Internet. Educate yourself from people who have factual knowledge on the science of black hair.