What do many Canadian female fashion and beauty entrepreneurs have in common? The fact that they graduated from programs at Blanche Macdonald school in Vancouver! We chatted with four alum, including Eliza Trendiak of Artel Salon, about their businesses, and what it takes to be an awesome, trailblazing boss! —Vita Daily
Hi Eliza! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
I am the owner of Artel Salon in Vancouver. I moved to B.C. when I was 17 to attend university and get my degree in business. I had always loved everything to do with hair so I decided to follow that passion after university and become a hairstylist. After building my clientele for several years, I finally fulfilled my dream of opening my own salon. Just under five years later we have three locations and more than 25 employees. When I’m not at the salons you can find me travelling, playing scrabble at Kafka’s Coffee with my husband or walking my dog on the seawall.
What is your salon, Artel, all about?
The definition of the word "artel" means “an association of artists living and working together”. This was first and foremost my vision for the salons. I wanted to create a space where stylists felt accepted, empowered, and a genuine sense of community. When a stylist feels valued and part of the bigger picture of the business, that automatically flows down to the client experience. Secondly, Artel is about innovation. We are committed to trying new things, thinking outside the box, and breaking stereotypes in our industry.
What makes your mandate/perspective, as a female stylist/entrepreneur, unique?
Interestingly enough, I feel that as a female entrepreneur there is a certain power in being underestimated. In general, as a woman, it is expected that you will naturally be good at the emotional and relational aspects of doing business. And while I do believe that I am strong in those areas, I love the look of surprise on people’s faces when I can easily rattle off my sales targets, profit margins, and percentage of annual growth.
How do you/does your business empower other women?
I feel like the entire nature of being a hairstylist is about helping someone realize their own inherent beauty. There is nothing more fulfilling than helping a woman find a way to express who she truly is; bringing out that inner confidence that may have always been there, but just needed a bit of guidance to fully radiate. With my stylists, I encourage open and direct communication and do not tolerate gossip. We want to be a team that faces conflict head on and we inevitably have become stronger for it.
The relationship between feminism and beauty can be, well, complicated; how do you reconcile the two, personally?
Oooh I like this question. For me personally, I don’t see feminism and beauty being at total odds with one another. Feminism is inherently about standing up for equality and letting your voice be heard. I know that when I feel amazing in an outfit or I’m having a killer hair day, it’s easier to live in confidence and show my strength. While beauty isn’t the end game, it’s simply a tool to express who you truly are as a person. With that being said, too often “beauty culture” can easily send us into a spiral of comparison and shaming one another. I believe we have the power to change that. Every person that walks in the door of Artel is treated with the same amount of love and care regardless of their appearance, gender, status, or lifestyle. We want to foster an environment of building others up, not tearing each other down.
How did Blanche Macdonald figure in your education/career?
I started BMC just months after finishing my undergrad. I knew if I was going to be investing in more education I wanted to squeeze every last drop of knowledge out of a program that I could. I loved that the program at Blanche went beyond just hair. We did modules in photoshoots, makeup, hair for television and film, and business on top of the foundations of cutting and colouring. Funny enough, I went into hair school thinking it would be a cake walk after finishing an undergrad. I was wrong. The theory and science kicked my ass! (Am I allowed to say ass?). BMC was the strong foundation I needed to start an amazing career and they have been a huge support to me even to this day.
Final, personal question: what's your fave hair trend going into spring/summer?
My favourite hair trend going into summer is the SHAG! This hairstyle is making a comeback in a big way. Whether clients want to fully take the plunge and commit to the curtain fringe and short layers, or they simply want “shag-inspired’ layers on their long hair, this hair trend is giving me life! This cut can be customized to complement so many different face shapes and hair types. It’s all about embracing and enhancing the natural texture which is the best thing you can do in Vancouver’s temperamental climate.