Women-Owned Business Invests in Local Talent
For co-owners Susie Gede and Kech Carera, BIBO Salon, an abbreviation for “blow in, blow out”, has been a labor of love nearly two decades in the making. What started as a stylist/client relationship has blossomed into a business partnership and a thriving salon.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we sat down with Susie to learn more about BIBO Salon – and we learned how important community is to the salon’s success and what the founders do to support the local female community.
Q: Tell us your origin story – how and why you started your salon.
Susie: Almost 20 years ago, I moved from London to Oakland, California with my young son to be near my sister after ending a relationship, and I started working in a salon in the Rockridge area. The community was so accepting and supportive of me and my situation as a single mother. I started building a clientele, and my son went to the school in the area.
Before moving, my dream was to one day run my own salon, to create a space to share with and learn from others. When my son turned 18 and prepared to go to college, I felt like the time was right for me to move forward with my goal.
At the same time, I had a longtime client, Kech, who was looking for something new and different from the work she’d been doing. She took a chance on me and gave me an opportunity to fulfill my dreams. We secured a loan through Kech’s mother, and BIBO Salon was born.
Many students graduate from beauty school and go directly to providing blow dry services, as they don’t have the necessary skills and experience to become a full service stylist. Our goal at BIBO is to run a salon that offers blow outs, but also have a training program to grow those stylists to be full service. So, I created an educational program to teach them to cut and color, and equip them with the necessary skills they need to confidently move up in the industry.
Q: How does your business support the female community?
S: Since day one, we’ve worked with Girls, Inc., a non-profit organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Once a year, their students graduate and we give them free blowouts in the salon so they feel their best for upcoming interviews.
As we continue to build a strong foundation for our business, we’re also heavily investing in the female community in our city. We run an all-women salon, and I work very hard at mentoring my stylists, their confidence, and personal identity as stylists so that their vision shines through in their work. Not only do I hire locally-based female stylists directly out of beauty school who need a chance to learn the skills of the trade, I make an effort to understand what they’re passionate about and what areas of hair they’re passionate about, so that they can become the best artist they can be.
For women in our community, my goal is to give them a haircut and color that aligns with who they are as a woman in order to bring out the best in them, and make them feel good about themselves. My philosophy is, “If my hair looks right, then half the battle is done with my day because I’ll feel good about myself, and I’ll execute better.” That’s what I want for all women.
Q: Do you have any advice for other business owners about investing in the community?
S: My best advice for nurturing the community is to support and collaborate with other small local businesses and nonprofit organizations. This allows for growth from all sides – when one business or organization is thriving, it gives them the time and resources to lift up others.
Q: As a female founder of your salon, what advice do you have for others who may be interested in starting their own business?
S: Have a great passion for what you do so that you’re able to endure the challenges that come with being a small business owner. If you don’t absolutely love what you do, you’ll be easily discouraged when things get tough.
Q: Do you have any salon marketing tips that you can share with others?
S: Digital marketing and branding are a huge part of driving the success of a small business, and you have to be diligent and consistent with your efforts. Identify what makes your salon unique and be consistent in your day-to-day operations so your guests identify with it. Be consistent with your messaging and with your brand.
What you advertise in the digital world has to translate into the guest experience on the salon floor. This has to carry over to your staff as well. The stylists at BIBO share the same vision as me, which allows us all to have the passion and drive to be successful doing what we love. You start a small business not to become wealthy, but rather to make an impact in your community.
Women’s History Month is an opportunity to celebrate the inspiring women who have contributed to our country, the world, and our very own neighborhoods. Know a boundary-pushing female leader or a ‘Wonder Woman’ in business who has shaped your local community? Share your local business story for a chance to partner with Nextdoor or be featured in a future blog post.