With unlimited hair salons popping up each day in Calgary, Margot Korbel continues to run her business with love and pride, especially for her clients and employees.
Korbel immigrated to Canada from Poland when she was 19 years old with her brand-new twins.
“At the time I wanted to focus on raising my kids, because they came first. Once they turned a year old, I attended Delmar College of Hair and finished at the age of 23.
“I started working full-time right after that for one of my teachers. She taught at Delmar College and also owned her own salon, and it was there that I worked for eight months.”
At about the eight month mark, Margot realized that the salon she had been spending her time at was not the type of environment where she wanted to work at.
“This industry gives you an enormous amount of options.
“What is difficult at the beginning is learning to know yourself and what it is you want to do with your career.
“I was not thinking about ever owning my own salon to begin with, I was really just concerned with becoming the best hair stylist that I possibly could be.”
Korbel invested in her hair training for years, attended every class, and found herself a salon that she was proud to represent. It was there that she built up her career and clientelle for 12 years.
“I wanted to make sure that I worked with people that were very creative, because therefore, I would become better at what I do.”
Korbel was happy to find a place where she felt comfortable and worked with people who had the same professional approach to the business as she did.
So, she spent a significant amount of time in that position.
“When I eventually decided to open up my own business, I had a built up that full clientelle that then followed and supported me onto my next venture.”
Lava Hair was Korbel’s first business and 12 years later, it still is.
She currently works there full-time as a hair stylist, while also managing the entire salon with the help of her husband and daughter.
“I like that I am the one in control now.
“I am in control of who works at my business, how we approach running the salon, what attracts our clientelle, and just the entire philosophy behind it all.”
Another huge factor that motivated Korbel to open up her own business was finances.
“You cannot do this forever. When you eventually want to step away from the chair, the only way to continue making money is by owning the salon.
“Plus, I always looked at it as a challenge. Owning my own business was just something that I felt ready for.”
Korbel’s daughters were in high school when she decided to open up Lava Hair.
“They didn’t need their mother as much any more and I needed to be challenged in life.
“Not that standing behind the chair is not challenging. It is. But I wanted diversity.”
Korbel stays motivated because of how driven her entire family is.
“If you surround yourself with people like that, they push you, and I couldn’t do what I do it without their continued support.”
Although the technical difficulties that come up and tax time is not Korbel’s favourite, she loves being a small business owner and hopes to step back from the chair one day soon to focus more on managing the salon.
With 11 employees under Korbel, both Debi Limañana and Diana Ferreira have nothing but positive things to say about working for her.
“I love working for Margot because she trusts me. She trusts that I’m an adult and I can make my own decisions without questioning me,” said Ferreira who has worked for Korbel for 12 years.
“She’s just a great person. I’ve known her for a long time.”
Debi Limañana recently made the switch from a 13-year commitment to a large corporate-owned salon chain and says that working for Korbel has been the change she’s always needed.
“I really enjoy working for my boss Margot because she is extremely personable, has a great sense of humour, and is organized.
“She is always offering us free education, which in turn helps me to better myself as a stylist every day.”
Korbel makes sure to always have regularly scheduled team-building activities, to keep her employees excited and happy to work with one another.
Limanaña puts it this way:
“Margot keeps us in the loop with up-to-date fashions and she takes pride in the way the salon works so that we can all work in a beautiful space.
“We all work really well as a team and clients notice these things immediately.”