All things adulting,  Career

How this hairslayer not only opened her salon mid pandemic but also moved into bigger premises

Samantha Pillay is a qualified international hair stylist, specializing in Ladies & gents Cuts, Blow waving, colouring ,chemical straightener’s ,perming, Brazilian blow waves, hair extensions, weddings and matric dances, threading and lash treatments. She owns her own hair salon named Sam based in East London South Africa.
Where did your passion for hair start ?

It all started in grade 11, I wanted a cellphone so my dad said I needed to get a job and buy my own. I had no idea what working in a salon entailed. I worked at East London’s most popular hairdresser at the time and through all the exposure of the industry I just naturally got the hang of things, my passion was truly found entering hairdressing competitions where you could be most creative and experiment. Therefore you can say the passion is a combination of being exposed to the hairdressing journey, being creative and being shown how to do the trade and finding it so natural once I got into the swing of things. My biggest love for it is making the person in the chair happy and feeling beautiful.

pivtures of Sam doing bridal hair

Who are the hair stylists that you look up to ?

My friend Alysha who was my mentor from my apprenticeship. As well as my former bosses from BLUEZOO hair and beauty. Mel Hugo ,Heidi.

You spent two years working on a cruise liner, what did that time teach you?

The ship experience was definitely my biggest place of growth, in character as well as a stylist.
They really train you in such a way where you understand a clients needs and concerns, offering that to them as a 5 star service. Everything is done perfectly and nothing less. Some of my biggest lessons were:

  • Presentation (of your appearance).
  • Confidence
  • Time management
  • Work ethic

Being mindful not to talk about yourself too much with the client, rather putting their needs first. And also offering the best home care range to the client so they can continue having healthy beauty hair.

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How did you cope with the heavy lockdown when hairdressers couldn’t work and what lessons did this period teach you?

It was extremely difficult, fortunately I am budget orientated. So I had savings to lean on. However I was making samoosas and selling them frozen, which was such a hit ,still today 🤣I have people asking me to make them. That definitely helped financially.

Often when you open up a business people will say but there’s already so much of “such and such”, how did you overcome this negative talk covered up as care?

I think going through the most difficult time in my career with Covid affecting us in hair and beauty I survived by God’s grace without a salary for 3 months. So taking the step of opening in a second wave was extremely daunting , will we have another lock down? Will we have to close again and for how long? I mostly took the step by faith that God gave me this opportunity to open and by his grace and support the businesses has flourished ever since!

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Opening a business comes with it’s own challenges add in the fact that you opened your own salon mid pandemic must have been extra challenging. Please share some of these challenges and how you overcame them?

Covid was one of my definately my biggest challenge. As it not only impacted me but my clients as well, some lost their jobs whilst others had salary cuts. This meant that they were coming in for what they deemed as essential services. Adding to all of that I couldn’t afford to hire someone to assist me as there were many quiet periods.

Despite All of these challenges I offered the best service that I could provide. I still made sure I was at work 8 -5 no matter if I had a client or not. I didn’t develop an unhealthy pattern, of only arriving when I have clients. I was consistent in my work hours, so people knew I was always there and available to help and could walk in. The quiet times meant more one on one time with my clients. I am currently still  running everything  from the bookings to the services to offering any beverages. It’s a lot however I have found a systematical way to do things. Incredibly I have been able to recently move into an even bigger studio.

What have been some of your highlights in your career?

Hairdressing competitions
Achieving first second and third prizes throughout Eastern cape.
Fulfilling my life long dream a working on a cruise ship doing hair.
As well as finally opening my own Salon!

Plans for the future ?

Yes so excited that just this past weekend we upgraded to a bigger salon in a new location. This mean we now offer a men’s barbering service which was something I’m so passionate about. Been in a bigger space allows me to grow my business and have staff 😄

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Any advice for other entrepreneurs ?

I said to my friend once, wow you did not tell me how difficult this was ,I was only told the glamorous part. She told me and I  quote” you either sink or swim” and really you have to be consistent and give your all and don’t get caught up in unhealthy habits.

” A motto, that I live by is try something once!”

Your faith is integral to how you define yourself, is there a verse you live by?

Jeremiah 29.11-For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord plans to prosper you and not to harm you, Plans to give you hope and a future

Working on a cruise liner has blessed you with an opportunity to travel all over, where would you say is your favorite holiday destination?

Hamburg about 80km outside of East London, we grew up going there camping and fishing. I also love Hogs back

What does your morning routine consist of ?

Wake up ,take my dog outside. Prayer and readings are essential. Go to gym/run. Then I head off to work.

What series are you currently binging?

Friends or Modern family.

How do you define a life well lived?

I feel that having family and the ones closes to your heart healthy and safe. Sharing quality time with them and investing in them. As well as being healthy and having a roof over my head .Been blessed with what I love to do and earn a salary to sustain my lifestyle.

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