Hairstylist Brenda Borboa Maldonado has been doing what she loves for 20 years – a rare achievement these days. Four years ago, after spending 15 years working in other stylists’ salons, Brenda decided she was ready to “dip her toes” into salon ownership herself. Although she was already plenty busy working fulltime and raising a young daughter, Brenda opened a small salon. She brought in two hand-picked stylists and an assistant and set out to run and manage every aspect of her new business. But, not long after, Brenda was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Knowing she was facing surgery, treatment and a challenging recovery, she thought seriously about closing the business. Instead, buoyed by the support of her family, friends and her dedicated clients, Brenda was able to keep Bohemia Hair Studio open for business. Today, three years into remission, Brenda cherishes the community she’s been able to create as a small business owner.
QuickBooks celebrates Brenda! In honor of Small Business Week, QuickBooks enlisted a tech-savvy team to create a Snapchat geo-filter for Brenda. Now every post she shares of her clients’ beautifully cut and styled hair is automatically branded as a Bohemia Hair Studio image, making it faster and easier for her to reach her existing and prospective customers.
Bohemia Hair Studio is a featured vendor at Intuit’s Small Business Week celebration this week in Mountain View, CA, April 30 to May 4.
Brenda, how did you get started as a business owner?
I worked in some really great salons, but I was ready for a change. I wanted to start small to make sure I liked running my own business. I figured if I did, I could always expand later on. I also knew that by starting small, I could focus on my clients instead of managing a staff which would make it easier for me to run the business.
My salon is studio-size, with a minimalist, warm, Bohemian vibe. I chose my two stylists and my assistant very carefully. We share the same work ethic, and we all know how important it is to create a welcoming environment for the salon.
Tell us where the name of your business comes from.
Everyone assumes that because I’m Mexican, I named the studio after a Mexican beer. Actually, Bohemia is the name for part of the Czech Republic. I traveled there and fell in love with the culture, and that’s what the name refers to!
What’s been your biggest challenge as a business owner?
My first year was very difficult. I opened the salon when my daughter was one-and-a-half, so I’d work all day and then come home and be a mom. Then I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. At that point, I had to stop and think about what was the best thing to do financially, for my health, for my family, for the business. I thought I’d have to close the studio. Instead, thanks to the girls on my team, I was able to keep things afloat. I was so lucky to have a great support system from the start. A lot of my clients were involved in my journey, too.
Looking back, it was a really hard time, but it was also reaffirming to know I had so much support. I had my friends and my family, and I also had clients who became real friends – and almost like family.
Brenda considers many of her clients as friends or even family
What’s a highlight about owning your own salon?
The biggest highlight is having my daughter be part of this journey. She was one when I open the studio, so she’s basically growing up watching me be a mom, a hairstylist and a studio owner. She’s five now, and I hope I can inspire her to work hard for her dreams and to never be afraid of failing.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were starting out?
I wish I’d known the challenges of multitasking! I tend to take on a lot by myself, because I don’t like other people doing things for me. But even though I’d rather do everything myself, I’m learning that sometimes that’s just not possible.
Most days, I wish I had two of me. That way I could focus on things like advertising. My clients are good about posting and tagging me on Instagram and posting Yelp reviews, but keeping up with marketing is a full-time job on its own.
I also wish I had more time to think about inventory. I keep a small inventory count, and I would love to have a better grasp of how to manage it.
What’s ahead for Bohemia Hair Studio?
Now that I’m a few years into running my own business, I’m thinking about expanding to a medium-size salon. I’d like to have the opportunity to teach advanced education for hairstylists, and I’d love to inspire working moms in the hair industry.
These days, mostly I just feel lucky. I’m healthy. My family is my rock. I have awesome clients. And I’ve been doing what I love for 20 years!
Before you go
QB Community members, which small businesses will you be supporting during Small Business Week?