Hessah – Curl Specialist
Hessah is a curl specialist and a founder of Curl Boutique, the first curly hair salon in Jeddah.
Hessah said, “if you’re passionate about something, believe in yourself. You’re going to have moments where you start to doubt yourself, maybe doubting the project you’re working on, but keep pushing.”
How did you come to be a hairstylist and consultant?
It started long ago when I was a sixteen-year-old living in the United States. I went to Cosmetology school during my high-school years
After high school, we moved back to Saudi Arabia in 2003 where I attended college in Jeddah. The dream of becoming a hairdresser didn’t dissolve, but I didn’t actively pursue it then, which meant I wasn’t working in a salon. However, I was always known in my circle to be that friend who you would come to for advice and recommendations when it came to taking care of your hair.
Instead, I took a two-year program as a Medical Transcriptionist, which involved typing up medical reports. I did an internship program after graduation for six months and I remember not liking it as it didn’t fit my personality. I like to be in a room, meeting and interacting with people.
Then I started working in various places and though I’ve really enjoyed each and every working opportunity, the dream of being a hairdresser was still there and I strongly wanted to do something with my Cosmetology knowledge.
Then I got the perfect idea and it all stemmed from the culmination of people complimenting my naturally curly hair and asking me how I’ve taken care of it and how I wore it naturally, that coupled with my love of empowering women and embracing who you are and so I was inspired to start a blog about that since we didn’t have anything about embracing your natural curls in Saudi.
I decided to take it a step further by flying over to New York to attend another training at the DevaCurl Academy. As soon as that was finished, I came back, continued doing my blogging and I started cutting hair and things took off really quickly from there, quicker than I thought. I didn’t have a plan to open a salon when I first started this blog, it was as simple as me wanting to blog because it made me happy, and it just evolved organically.
How did you know you wanted to open up your very own curl hair salon, Curl Boutique?
Since I’ve started blogging, a lot of my clients were appreciative of the fact that I’m offering consultations and teaching them all the different ways of taking care of their hair, but they kept asking about who was going to cut their hair and hence asked me for a recommendation for someone or someplace in Jeddah.
I failed to answer them because I didn’t know anyone. And that’s when I reached out to a few salons to help train their staff. Some salons didn’t think it was a wise investment on their part, money-wise, time-wise, and some weren’t convinced that women wanted to embrace their natural curls since the idea of embracing one’s curls is very new in Jeddah.
And so I thought I can open a salon to cater to curly women and hopefully more salons will follow suit in the future!
Talk to us more about your journey of exploring the world of entrepreneurship by opening Curl Boutique! Do you have a background in business, or anything close to it?
Because I’m passionate about this and willing to learn and make it happen in any way shape or form, I’m doing whatever it takes to make sure I open it. I’ve been working in different places for so long, so I’ve developed a good network of people. When it came to designing a logo, I had a friend, when I wanted to have a photoshoot for the saloon and myself, I knew someone. I had another friend that helped me with the writing of the website. I had so many people who were like, “Hessah. You should do this and we’re gonna help you.” And truly things just happened organically.
I did face some difficulties, however. Since I’m a full-time employee and a mother, managing my time and making sure my day job isn’t negatively impacted by Curl Boutique, was something I had to deal with.
Another setback was when the places I liked for the salon had to be operational for five days a week minimum, and yet I could only work weekends.
So I took things slow and not so slow at the same time but when it was time to open the salon I already had the clients, I already had everything and it was just a matter of me opening a physical space.
For your brand identity, how did you go with your specific logo and your color palette and all that?
The theme of the place is Boho, and I wanted something, free and relaxing, and when I spoke to the designer, I explained to him my story and what this is about. I wanted it to be a place where you come in feel like you’re in your best friend’s living room. I didn’t want people to feel that feeling you get when you enter a salon and it’s all nice and there’s this sort of uncomfortable feeling you get.
I’ll burn some candles for you, I’ll have some books lying around, I wanted it to be a free space for you to be who you are, and be comfortable, and so I wanted the colors to match that, and when I spoke to the designer, he understood that right away and came back to me with mood boards and stuff, and we agreed and that was that!
Who are you targeting besides women who have curly hair?
Men are welcome too! I’ve had a few men clients and one of my agreements with the place that I’m renting is that I want to accept male clients.
I’ve had a guy who messaged me yesterday. He was telling me that he wanted to take care of his hair and have better skincare routines to which I immediately replied and talked to him about the different products that he can use.
What are some things you wish you knew about before opening Curl Boutique, or even getting started as a hair dresser?
Having a website really helped me with the booking system. I didn’t know how easy it was to create it, it really helped since everything before was manually written on Excel Sheets.
Any advice for freelancers or people starting their own business?
I want to say that if you’re passionate about something, believe in yourself. You’re going to have moments where you start to doubt yourself, maybe doubting the project you’re working on, but keep pushing.
Have you read any books that helped you with Curl Boutique?
The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz has a chapter especially about not taking things personally and it really did help me.
There’s a recent book I read by Deepak Chopra, it also helped me think differently, and be more open-minded because when you start a business you’re going to meet all sorts of people, you’re going to have difficulties sometimes, and you really have to make sure not to make it about yourself, and know it’s just part of the business.
Where do you see Curl Boutique in five years time?
I see Curl Boutique opening different branches around the Kingdom and maybe in the region, and I know it will happen because I see it happening.