Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Toront0-based hairstylist and salon owner Chanel Cezair, who’s quickly made a name for herself as one of the city’s top hair professionals at her King West location. We caught up with her to find out what inspires her work and what advice she would share with other young professionals…
Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
Founder and CEO of Studio67, an eco-friendly, waste-free Aveda Salon & Art Gallery in the heart King West.
What was the inspiration for your career route?
I’ve always had an insatiable desire to be as close as possible to humanity on a very basic level.
My background is actually in fine arts. I studied shape and colour in arts school before attending the Toni & Guy Institute in New York City. Along the way I’ve dabbled in photography, music, modelling, and dancing. I’ve always been compelled to find new and interesting ways to bring different forms of creative expression together in a way that has a positive impact on people’s everyday lives.
When Studio67 opened I wanted to create a community space filled with art and creativity and opportunity. That’s really what owning a business is all about for me; inspiring people through beauty and creating opportunities for others.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
That’s a tie between opening up my own salon and moving to Toronto.
I studied in New York so I had definitely experienced what it was like to be a stylist in a huge metropolitan city. It’s a great learning environment, but it’s unforgiving.
I moved to Toronto because I knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone and I needed to do it on my own. Breaking into the industry in a totally new city can be really hard but I had a lot of people who believed in me and I’ll always be so thankful for that.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
In five years I definitely see at least one more salon, if not more. Studio67 has been such a challenging and rewarding experience that I honestly can’t wait to do it again.
In 10 years I hope to have the financial freedom to focus on giving back, not only here in Toronto but also in another country. I have family in Trinidad and I spend a lot of time there. I would really like to open some kind of business or non-profit that supports the local community. I think it will be some kind community wellness centre that offers people everything from salon services to yoga, access to basic resources and community events. Trinidad means a lot to me and I would like to find a way to have a positive impact on my community there.
In 20 years I see myself surrounded by a bunch of kids who are just killing it and a collection of both for-profit and non-profit business that have a tangible impact on the people and communities that surround them.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Being an entrepreneur is inherently terrifying, so you have to be comfortable with fear.
You also need to be absolutely relentless. Entrepreneurs are bringing something new to light and people are resistant to change. Most of the time people will tell you that it can’t be done and shoot down your ideas. You can’t give in to that. It sounds cheesy, but to succeed you really need to be able to believe in yourself when no one else does.
And finally, hold on to the really good people in your life. You can’t do it alone. A select few succeed and become the face of an empire, but there really is an army behind them.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
Absolutely. We work with Green Circles to run an eco-friendly and waste-free salon because we believe that the salon industry can and should be sustainable and leave a small footprint on our planet.
We also run a monthly program in partnership with Sistering Toronto to offer complimentary hair care and salon services to the women who participate in their many programs. We created this program to offer women who are facing homelessness, transience, under-employment or domestic violence the chance to access high-end haircare and other salon services. We really wanted to give these women the opportunity to look their best and put their best foot forward. Everyone is entitled to that and it’s been a huge success for us and for them.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
I’m the kind of person who is always in transition; I think that my comfort zone is staying in a permanent state of movement.
In this industry people think you can do hair anywhere. And that is true, but in order to really succeed you need to find a place of belonging and stay there. That does not come naturally to me, so I really needed to put in the effort to stay in one place and make roots.
What does the word notable mean to you?
Notable, to me, means something that has value. Something to remember and take with you because you know it will be useful later on.
Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Definitely Collette. The food is absolutely amazing, of course, but for me the fun of going out is the spectacle of service and attention to detail. They do that well.
What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
My bank account. I don’t spend a lot of time online. In fact, my computer hasn’t been charged or turned on for over a week, but when I do use it, it’s usually to keep track of finances.
According to iTunes the most played song on my phone is Somewhere in America by Jay-Z.
Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
Hannah Bronfman. I have serious crush on her. She’s an entrepreneur from New York who created a mobile app called Beautified that’s like Uber for salon and spa services. I find her really inspiring because even though she’s very into fitness and a strong advocate for wellness and clean living, she’s not the super skinny stereotypical fit girl.
What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
Trinidad. I am biased, having family and spending so much time there. But it really is the most beautiful place in the world.
What gives you the greatest FOMO?
When I don’t go back to Thornbury on the weekends, the small town where I grew up, I always wonder what everyone was doing.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
Food. I spend all my money on food and I wish good food didn’t cost so much.
I wish I spent more money on travel. It’s hard to get time off in the salon industry, but I’m not complaining!
And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Financial freedom. The liberty to execute the ideas you had when you were a child.