Updated on: January 3rd, 2017
Meet Alex Markowski.
Alex is a Manager/Hair Stylist at 90 Degrees Salon in Charlotte, but like most Charlotteans, he wasn’t born here. Alex was born in Buffalo, New York and relocated here with his family in 1998. He received all of his education in the Charlotte area and currently holds three college degrees: an Associates Degree in Arts, a degree in Cosmetology, and a degree in Sociology, with a minor in Political Science. And one more thing you need to know about Alex? He’s always had a passion for helping others.
In 2011, he found himself unemployed for the first time. When he told his parents that he wanted to open a salon, they asked, “What do you know about hair?” to which he replied, “Absolutely nothing!” That summer, he enrolled in Cosmetology school and, as they say, the rest is history (or should we say hairstory).
CBRBiz.com: First, give us some background on 90 Degrees Salon.
Alex Markowski (AM): The salon was opened over 12 years ago back in 2004. It began as a desire to provide a work environment that allowed experienced, individualistic stylists to work alongside other like-minded stylists within one cohesive and open salon atmosphere. I’ve worked there for 5 years now. There are 16 stylists currently working there.
CBRBiz.com: Have you always been interested in owning your own business?
AM: Yes, I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit.
CBRBiz.com: How did you go about learning how to manage a salon?
AM: Most of it involved hands-on training and learning each day the needs of a salon business, but my educational background and previous work experience definitely helped played a role as well.
CBRBiz.com: Which Cosmetology school did you attend? Was it harder than you thought it would be? What surprised you the most?
AM: I attended Stanley County Community College. It really wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be, though it did involve long days and many hours. As a male student, I thought it was it going to be more difficult, but my teachers explained it would actually be easier because my lack of hair experience would mean learning each new step the correct way the first time, instead of being re-trained. What surprised me the most is the amount of chemistry involved in color preparation and timing. I found strengths for me were in cutting and proper color assessment.
As a male student, I thought it was it going to be more difficult, but my teachers explained it would actually be easier because my lack of hair experience would mean learning each new step the correct way the first time, instead of being re-trained.
CBRBiz.com: Outside of the salon, have you had any other entrepreneurial endeavors? How are you working to make those a reality?
AM: In today’s world, I believe many young individuals have multiple outside endeavors; I am no different. I have my personal weight training certification and even run a small merchandising business. These other outside endeavors help cross-promote the salon and my book of business within it.
CBRBiz.com: What’s it like working with your mother? Have you learned anything new about her that you didn’t know before working with her?
AM: Working with my mother in a professional atmosphere is a quite different dynamic. We both have a high level of respect both personally and professionally, and our roles in the business are clearly defined which helps. I would say it’s more like we are business colleagues than mother and son. At work, it’s always business before anything. Though I will say, there is much to learn from her, including hard work, long hours, and a dedication to success.
CBRBiz.com: What local resources have you taken advantage of along the way?
AM: Some business funding from a local bank to start the business and on occasion working with other businesses to promote the salon and its stylists. Though I would say most of our growth is organic from within and definitely referral based. Clients that appreciate great hair are happy to refer others. Receiving client referrals is one of the highest compliments of a job well done.
Receiving client referrals is one of the highest compliments of a job well done.
CBRBiz.com: If you could do one thing differently, what would it be?
AM: In all honesty, I believe most things occur for some reason, so I really can’t say I would have done anything differently. I do believe we all learn from the day-to-day business environment. The education is ongoing, and the past prepares us to deal better with the future.
CBRBiz.com: What would surprise people most about owning a salon?
AM: The salon business is much more dynamic then most people would expect; it is certainly way more than just hair. Clients’ needs are very individualized, and knowing your client is critical to success.
Having a good rapport along with excellent and consistent hair skills is a must. Clients rely on their stylists to be on their game each and every time.
Finally, as a once perceived female dominated beauty business, many of today’s salons and independent stylists are run equally by male and female individuals. Both men and women in this business should be commended for their artistry, creativity, and mastery of skill they provide.
Finally, as a once perceived female dominated beauty business, many of today’s salons and independent stylists are run equally by male and female individuals.
Thank you, Alex! To learn more about 90 Degrees Salon, be sure to visit them online. Have a local business you think should be featured in a blog post? Tweet it to us @CBRBiz!