Jazma Salon Profile

Interview with Jazma Salon owner, Asha MacLeod

Jazma Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

Why did you open your salon?

Read the #HerStory of why Asha MacLeod opened her award-winning salon here

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.

Jazma Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

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.

Jazma Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

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.

Amorphous Salon Profile

Interview with Amorphous Salon owner, Buster Berkely

Amorphous Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

Why did you open your salon?

I was in transit between New York and Toronto. I was styling hair in Brooklyn & Manhattan. I wanted to displace some of my creativity, inspire others, and to have a better life. I wanted a better life emotionally, creatively, and to motivate people. I wanted to see if I could achieve some of the things I dreamt of doing. To be honest, I was never interested in owning a salon. The opportunity was given to me. I was always writing, creating and educating myself. But I was never eager to open my own salon. I was always comfortable working under someone else’s umbrella.

What keeps you motivated?

Being creative. I personally think I am one of the best haircutters you could ever come across. Within Toronto or outside of it. I’m going to honk my own horn – I think this is the time to do it. I have knowledge, training and experience. Cutting hair and coming up with new concepts motivates me. Cutting, colouring and other areas that I am strong in keeps me motivated – keeps my juices flowing. That energy never settles. My veins are always producing some type of creativity.

Who inspires you?

I have been inspired by guys like Irvine Rusk and Trevor Sovie – frick. I love Trevor. Trevor is my man. He is so humble. He’ll walk into his salon, pick a broom up, and sweep hair off the floor. Yet he is one of the most popular fashion stylists in London. Irvine Rusk is amazing as well. The man is so creative. He comes up with ideas that are out of sight. His haircutting techniques are incredible. I learnt a lot from Irvine Rusk because I used to attend his classes. Right now I’m liking Ted Gibson because he’s one of the black men in the industry. He is very inspiring. Ted takes a different approach to hairdressing. He is forward, in your face, and creative. Ted is all about social media and PR. He is THE modern hairdresser in the industry. Not only that, he charges over $1000 for a haircut. That’s my man.

Describe your staff

I have six employees. I am very appreciative of them. They are hard working and help me get things done in a timely manner. Salons cannot keep people waiting. You just cannot do it. You have to get people in and out. Over the years I have learned how to service clients in a timely manner.

Amorphous Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

What would you say is your biggest success so far?

My biggest success was when Amorphous used to be doing performance. We brought high-energy entertainment to the audience. It was a big accomplishment because it was an Amorphous production. We created the choreography, the clothing, the hairstyles – everything was done by Amorphous. I remember on one occasion we had to do a performance in New York City. At that time I was putting the money I was making for doing my work back into the performance. I spent it on my models. I wasn’t going able to pay for them to model but I paid for their transportation and hotels. We were well rehearsed. When we took the stage people didn’t believe we were from Toronto. My work has appeared in various quality magazines, television, and music videos, but traveling with Amorphous productions felt like my biggest accomplishment. I’ve worked with Wyclef Jean, LL Cool J, Boys II Men, Beyonce… there is too many to name. But celebrities mean nothing to me. Celebrities don’t make my day. My day is made by the regular people who come through the salon doors. I’m not a celebrity stylist. I’m the people’s stylist. I’m the people’s hair designer. Celebrities are human beings like the rest of us. The people who pay my bills – who have been coming every three months for the past fifteen years – mean something to me.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Starting school. When I was in hairdressing school our teacher constantly undermined me. One day I took him into the office and was on the verge of changing schools. I sat down with him man to man and asked him to lay off of me and just let my juices flow. From then on, my challenges were gone. I always knew what I wanted and I knew that I would get it. I gave up all of the other things that I love – music, painting, acting – to be a hairdresser. I knew I had to do well.

What do you want your business to look like in 10 years?

If I could make a salon made of gold I would do it. I want people to walk into my salon and be intimidated because it’s so well structured, and the hairdressers are so polite and knowledgeable. If I could put a million dollars into a salon I would do it in a minute.

What advice would you give to new Canadian salons and/or hairdressers?

I would tell new hairdressers to embark on education. The industry is low educationally and different from when I was in school. It’s a different industry. I would tell young hairdressers to make sure they select the salon that they want to work for. Don’t just jump into it. You can’t walk into a salon because you’re going to be paid and they do weaves and jheri curls. Go to a salon that suits your image. Know what type of hairdresser you want to be. Know your goals. Research. There are a lot of great hairdressers out there, like the ones I mentioned earlier.

What does your salon specialize in?

Many people would say that we specialize in hair cutting – but we are a hair care provider first. We know how to care for hair. Amorphous is strong in hair cutting, styling, and colouring. I would say that we are strong in every area in the industry because we work like a team.

Is there anything else you wanted to say?

Amorphous is a curly hair salon. We help clients cut and maintain their curly hair. Also, I want to see black manufacturers come back into business. I must add a bit of politics. I want to see that black dollar go back into the black hair industry. Forget the two cents you’re going to save by putting your money somewhere else. We need our dollar circulating among us. There are billions of dollars being spent in the black hair industry and not a lot is coming back to us. There was a time when black marketers would come to your salon and pay you to do seminars, but now that doesn’t happen at all.

We have one of the most versatile hair of all races

Hairdressers need to get their act together. It isn’t difficult to take care of our hair. People need to be comfortable going to a salon to have their hair treated and know that their hair will remain on their head. If I’m not political my name is not Buster.

Amorphous Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

inHAIRitance Salon Profile

Interview with inHAIRitance Salon owner, Abisara Machold

inHAIRitance Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

Why did you open your salon?

I started inHAIRitance 2 years ago because I saw a great need. I moved to Montreal, Canada 4 years ago from Berlin, Germany. I was used to not finding good hair products but I was under the impression that in North America it wouldn’t be difficult to take care of my natural curly hair. It turned out to be a huge problem. I had to fly to Toronto or New York every time I wanted to have my hair serviced.

I was having trouble finding a job in Montreal that was at the same level as what I left in Berlin, so I decided to go back to my first passion. I wanted to change the landscape of natural hair in Canada.

Describe your average customer

My average customer is a 23 to 36 year-old working woman. 70% of my customers are francophone.

Who is your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from my foremothers. Every time I have a hard moment I think back to Maya Angelou and all of the people who paved they way for us to celebrate our hair. They paved they way for us to be able to celebrate our political rights and black feminism. Whenever I am down it humbles me to think of how hard they fought for the next generation of black women to have diverse opportunities.

inHAIRitance Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

What keeps you motivated?

My amazing team. People gave up their jobs to follow my dream. We built a company from scratch. It takes a lot of courage to jump into the boat and decide to make this new idea happen.

How big is your team?

We have 7 stylists, 1 receptionist, 2 sales staff, 1 social media specialist, and me!

What has been your biggest success so far?

One day a woman came into inHAIRitance after surviving breast cancer and she was depressed, dressed in dark colours, downcast. She didn’t know what to do with her hair. Her husband wanted it to be straight again but she didn’t want to put chemicals on it again. We had a consultation with her and educated her about her naturally curly hair. About a year later I saw her at the opening of our new location and she was dressed in bright yellow.

She was glowing. Her hair had amazing growth, she looked beautiful. She said to me, “Abisara, thank you. Thank you for showing me that I am beautiful the way I was created.” I just started bawling.

What is your favourite part of your job?

I love doing consultations. Every time I sit a new person down and educate them about their naturally curly hair they gasp in disbelief and say the same thing: “I can’t believe my hair can do this.” Every time I hear that my heart jumps. It’s all about helping people realize the beauty of their hair and what their hair is capable of doing.

inHAIRitance Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

What has been your greatest challenge?

Hiring staff is a challenge. Finding good staff that is committed. We provide our own schooling, training manuals and education and it’s important to have staff that are willing to tap into a completely new field, new techniques and new strategies.

A lot of the French laws are challenging as well. The name “inHAIRitance” is a jou jou mot they call it in French or a play on words. Health Canada can also pose a problem because I import many of my natural hair products.

What do you want your business to look like in 10 years?

I want to be in 4 Canadian cities: Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City and Montreal. I want to continue certifying people. My goal is to give a formula to other hairdressers who want to style natural hair but don’t have the structure. I want to spread the news about curlcare. It still shocks me that naturally curly hair is not in the curriculum in hair schools.

Also, I think perms should be illegal at a certain age for children. It is a physical hazard that is detrimental to children’s health. More discussion around this topic is necessary.

inHAIRitance Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

What advice would you give to new Canadian salons?

Start including trainings and education for curly hair. Invest in the education of your stylists. It comes back to you tenfold. Make sure your stylists stay up to date on the latest techniques.

For those that want to start something and have a lot of enthusiasm and energy: do your homework. There are no shortcuts. Each obstacle is a great lesson that sometimes reveals amazing truth. Become an expert in what you’re doing. Consider legal and health requirements. The passion keeps you motivated but your discipline and work ethic are going to keep your business alive.

What is your hairstyle right now? Why?

Right now I’m wearing yarn twists. I usually don’t like to wear extensions but yarn provides me with a great new option. It is a protective hairstyle it all its senses. You can hydrate your hair in between. The parts are big because my hair is more on the fine side. It’s super light so that it doesn’t pull on my roots, and it’s really soft. Yarn is different from Kanekalon. Kanekalon is a plastic hair fibre that fights against your hair and because Kanekalon is so strong it always wins. I like yarn braids because I can be confident that I am wearing a protective style that is in no way harmful to my hair. I leave it in for about a month. I love it!

To maintain my yarn twists and keep my hair healthy underneath I spray it with my moisturizing spritz (water, essential oils, aloe, glycerin and others) once a day. Once a week I dry clean my scalp: I take a microfiber towel and put some water and shampoo on it, then run the cloth through my parts of my hair on my roots. I don’t like to wash the yarn braids because I don’t want to wait for them to dry. It’s not gonna happen.

Is there anything else that you want to add?

Our product selection is 95% natural (Diva curl is the only exception, they are 85% natural). We are the only store like that. I want our clients to know that we hand select the products that are best for their hair and they can trust in our selection.

inHAIRitance Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

We offer free consultations.

Most of the time these consultations are hair therapy. We give people the opportunity to talk about their hair journey. For many of our clients it’s the first time they have ever been given the opportunity to freely express their relationship with their hair.