UPTOWN: What made you open the salon?
AJ: I opened the salon over 14 years ago. I only had one boss my whole life. I worked for a salon on the gold coast. I knew it was the kind of salon I wanted for myself. I worked for maybe 18 months. I had a consistent, high-end clientele. Finally, I took my clients and opened up my own salon.
UPTOWN: What would you say, is the hardest thing about running a salon?
AJ: The hardest thing is finding a good staff. These artistic people are sometimes flaky. When you find someone that has the skill and craft, that is the key and that is the whole thing. I can see something in people that they don’t see themselves. Nine times out of 10, they are a little lazy. This isn’t just a hobby; it is a way of life. If you can do all of that and you can do something you love, that’s the gift. My work doesn’t seem like work to me.
Katrell: Valincia is the biggest challenge. Dealing with Valincia and the negativity that comes with that is challenging. I am the only person that Valincia has an issue with in the salon. AJ and I have become super close and my being the head of the makeup is new to [Valincia].
Macray Huff: I think it is a bit much at times. I guess they don’t like each other, but they gotta do what they gotta do. I mean, some people get on my nerves sometimes too.
UPTOWN: How important is image when it comes to your salon?
AJ: In this industry we are visual people. Nobody should be standing over you doing your hair if [they] look a wreck. You want your staff to look clean and sanitized. If you are going to have people come in and drope [sic] hundreds of dollars, you have to give them the image. I am somewhat of a control freak. I have an input on the smallest thing to the biggest thing. Everything will have my stamp of approval. Everyone that comes to work with me has to have a certain kind of look.
Katrell: This is nothing new to me with that kind of standard. It was natural to me to fit right in to the salon. There should be a standard – being fashion forward with an edge. We all embrace the standard. It is a necessity when dealing with the clientele that we deal with.