Spotlight: HammerHeadz Salon
Q: Tell me about yourself and your business.
My name is Justin Hammer-Ng. I've been doing hair for 15 years. I own and operate Hammer Headz Salon on 1st Avenue SW in Bridgeland with my husband Curtis Hammer-Ng.
One day I decided to open up my own shop. It can be challenging to get ahead financially just working behind the chair in a salon and there is only so much you can do. I wanted to take the profession to the next level. Owning and operating a salon gives you more ability to create the environment you want, bring on staff, provide mentoring and training opportunities for young stylists, and it provides the new and welcome challenge of business administration. My husband and I have been working on this idea for four years. It has been our dream. I run the salon and cut hair. My husband takes care of things behind the scenes with book keeping, pay-roll, etc.
Q: What made you choose your career?
I grew up in the salons. It piqued my interest when I went to the hair salon with my mother as a kid. I always joined her on each of her visits. I can remember helping out in the salon while waiting for my mom when I was only 10 years old by sweeping the floor etc. It turned into a job during my high school years. To be honest I didn't think it was going to be my career until the day after I graduated and the owner of the salon I was working at asked me, "so when are you going into hair school?". And that's what I did. In the past 15 years I've worked in the salon industry, I got experience not only cutting hair but helping to manage too. I had responsibility to order product, hire staff, manage schedules, and eventually I fell in love with the business aspect of it too.
Q: How do you feel your business contributes to the LGBT community in Calgary?
We don't discriminate with who comes in our doors! I am gay and married. We have a large group of LBGT friends who are in and out of the shop. We want to be a presence in the community. The business is new but we want to get more involved in pride and LGBT community events. Last year we took part in the Bridgeland LGBT Pride BBQ. Salons are different… we let everybody in!
Q: What is it like to be in business in Calgary and be a member of the LGBT community?
I love it now. In the beginning it was a little tough for us. Being in the salon industry and trying to find business loans is tough. Approaching banks as a gay couple trying to open a salon felt a little stereotypical or something. We got questions like "who will be your owner". We had to work to get taken seriously. Certain banks were more helpful than others. In the end we were successful. It took perseverance, planning and confidence.
Q: How can you and your business serve as a connection or a hub between connecting people in our community?
It comes back to getting out into the community more. We want to have a presence and awareness in the community. Our space is designed to hold events. We want to invite people in to our shop to connect. This upcoming Pride in Business event is a good fit for that. We also want to mentor young and beginner stylists. We are on the board of a new industry association representing stylists. There is currently no local association for us.
Q: Do you have any advice for LGBT community members who want to go into business for themselves or want to get into styling?
Come and work at our salon! As I mentioned, mentoring is a big part of what we do. I have worked in major colour lines' education salons. It's given me a passion for education and training new staff. This is a learning salon. We provide opportunity for our stylists to attend industry training. Education is a big part of what this salon is. I can also help someone with contacts to get them into the right salon for them, help them out with licensing, etc. My advice is to find out what it is about the industry that you like. It's not just about standing behind the chair and cutting hair, it's also about chatting with people, learning the technical part of the trade, taking part in industry competitions, etc.
Justin encourages anyone interested in what they are doing or is interested in styling to reach out to connect. Justin's email is email@example.com and is on Linkedin at linkedin.com/in/justin-hammer-ng-36526939 or visit him at the upcoming Pride in Business event on June 22, 2018 which will be held at Hammer Headz Salon.
Spotlight Event: HammerHeadz Salon