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January 10, 2013 | 12:00 a.m. CST
The District in Columbia boasts 15 hair salons. The newest, Blanc Studio, opened on Nov. 1 and is owned by husband and wife Pablo and Victoria Araujo. “Not everybody’s opening a business with their spouse,” Pablo says. “In their first year of marriage!” Victoria says. The couple enjoys working together, though, and knows how to split up business-managing tasks. “She takes care of the hair, and I do the rest,” Pablo says.
Can you describe the salon’s atmosphere?
V: We kept the theme of the shabby chic and started the white theme. I knew, just walking into the space, that it fit perfectly and was what I wanted [it] to look like.
P: We wanted to do the hair salon in one part and our waiting room on the other side. We have this third room, and for now it’s going to be a mini gallery. Art is going to be a big part of this.
Why do you feel the need to incorporate art?
P: I’m a graphic designer, and I just wanted to expand the idea of the salon a little bit. I don’t want it to be just a hair salon; I want people to have other reasons to come here. If people want to look at the galleries, they can come in, and they don’t have to get their hair done.
What made you want to open up a salon?
P: I really wanted to open a business. We set up her own independent business which was Araujo Designs by Victoria. She did really well and was working independently, doing weddings, which was what she wanted. So, we decided, why not do this on a bigger scale?
V: When I first thought about opening a business, I was hesitant. I knew it’d be a lot of work, and I wanted to do more of the hair side of the business and stick to what I know and do best. I didn’t want to get into the business side. That’s why we came up with the plan that Pablo could do all the business, marketing, making sure our name was out there.
How do you think Columbia will respond to the newest hair salon? Also, some people are hesitant to try a new place. How do you reach these potential customers?
P: We want to reverse that and smartly market ourselves.
V: If we could just get people in the door to see how we work and what we are, that will help people want to come back and possibly make them change their mind as far as going home for a haircut. As far as students go, the process of getting them into salon in the first place is the thing, and offering specials is helpful right now. Students don’t have a ton of money to spend on hair. They can’t just blow $150 on hair every 6 weeks. If we can get them in and see how we’re doing things differently as far as quality control, how the stylists are all trained by me personally. I check every service at the door before clients leave. The atmosphere in the salon could change their minds.
What are some of the struggles of opening your own business?
P: It can be very stressful.
V: With us, we’ve been married for a year, so it’s been very busy. It’s made us closer because we realize we are going to argue about things. It’s kind of a con because you have little things that he wants one way and I want another way. You take it step by step. We don’t know what’s going to happen. It could end up going great or it could end up burning out. That could be a con for even business partners.
P: But we go home together at night. When it comes to decisions… we respect each other’s opinions.
What about the pros?
P: We get to make the decisions of what we want for the future. We get to take control of our lives. If this place fails, it’s because I made it fail, not because someone didn’t listen to what I wanted or my boss did something else or the government took it. Every decision made is ours, so if something is wrong, it’s our bad choices. But I like that.
How does it affect you as a stylist, Victoria?
V: What I wanted to do when I worked for Regis Salons for seven years was to teach. I wanted to travel and teach cuts and colors. Now I get to do it for a great group of girls that I get to watch grow into stylists. I get to watch their work develop. And the benefits that we will get to take advantage of in a year, as far as traveling and taking courses in hair and things, I will get to keep learning. I don’t have to be at the mercy of a huge company, telling me I get to go on a trip or not.