Young risk-taker gets her royal payoff
Hazel Marie Uy likes pretty things.
She likes makeup, nail polish, and getting her hair done. She also loves making people around her beautiful. But she’s not your typical girl next door. She is a businesswoman, and a daring one at that.
Early last year, Hazel opened Princess Hazel Salon and Spa on Quezon Avenue, Quezon City. The salon is her first foray into business, and she is the sole proprietor. She is aware of the risks that come with opening up a business. And at such a young age, Hazel is determined to succeed in a field she actually enjoys.
Her determination to enter the beauty business stemmed from a typical dilemma most young graduates encounter–she was not happy with her job.
The 24-year-old HRM graduate of College of St. Benilde worked in an upscale hotel as part of the kitchen staff. Although she studied culinary, she admitted that her passion was not in cooking.
“I was in the kitchen, and I was not really happy with what I was doing. I wanted to do something else,” Hazel says in Filipino.
Miserable in being confined in the kitchen, she just finished her contract with the hotel. Later, she worked for her father as his secretary. Her father owns a feeds manufacturing business in San Rafael, Bulacan.
There she observed and learned the ins and outs of running a business.
A talented dancer, Hazel joined a professional belly dancing group called Jill Ngo’s Goddesses of Belly Dancing. The group performed at Resorts World Manila. They also joined several competitions in Korea and Indonesia. During her stint with the group, she did her own makeup. Eventually, other members of her group sought her help in doing theirs.
Hazel realized that she could indeed help people feel good about themselves. A self-confessed “kikay,” she knew that she would really excel at, and be happy in, running her own beauty business.
She approached her parents for assistance and guidance in starting a business of her own–a salon and spa venture.
Hazel then studied cosmetology at the Center for Aesthetic Studies and learned not only how to do hair and makeup, but also how to run a beauty business. It was also there that she met a few fellow students that she hired for her salon.
“I wanted to hire people whom I know and trust. Most of my employees used to do services for me, and I have known them for a long time. I’m not comfortable in hiring strangers,” Hazel says.
To make her salon and spa stand out, she adopted a theme straight out of a fairy tale. The dominant shades are purple–the color of royalty–and gold. Customers get to sit on plush thrones while they are being treated. Tiaras and crowns are at hand for customers to complete the royal experience.
“I want customers to be awed with the interiors, making them feel like they’re in a different world while they’re in the salon,” says Hazel.
When Princess Hazel Salon and Spa started out, customers were hard to come by, Hazel says. But once people heard of the salon’s unique concept and look, business started to pick up.
People who were just curious, and those who wanted to experience the royal treatment, came in and left happy. More importantly, they talked about the salon and shared their experience with others. Sitting on a nice, plush throne while having your nails done doesn’t happen everyday, and people want that experience.
She then started to have a steady stream of clients, mostly people who liked the privacy and the peace and quiet of her salon, away from the bustling city noise.
Most of the building tenants where her salon is located have also become her clients. She has little girls coming in for hair and nails services, obviously drawn by the royal theme of her salon.
And yes, they also sometimes get male customers who initially came in to accompany their wives or girlfriends, but gamely ended up availing of the services themselves.
“There was just this one time when a young boy refused to come in because ‘it [the salon] is too girly,’” Hazel shares. “Other than that, male customers are not really bothered by the salon’s look.”
Hazel credits her parents in helping her become the businesswoman she is now.
“My dad gives me tips and guides me. He looks out for me and checks on me. My mom also sometimes comes in to help me manage the salon, especially when I’m out,” says Hazel, who is also busy preparing for her wedding in March.
She buys all the supplies herself, choosing the right shampoo and the best hair treatment products. She has a harmonious relationship with her staff, whom she treats with respect. Hazel acknowledges her staff’s dedication to their craft and hears out their suggestions and ideas.
With her salon and spa’s unique concept and look, a few customers have gone to Hazel subtly telling her they want to do business with her, either by branching our or franchising.
But she’s still hesitant to take that step. She fears that franchising may mean losing her original concept or other people may change the overall look of her business.
But she and her fiancé have set their sights in opening a new branch in Binondo–which will focus more on the “spa” than the “salon”–after their wedding.
Hazel takes pride in opening her own business, a solo venture, and at such a young age.
Hearing people talk of her determination has pushed her to strive even harder, to show everyone that it’s not about the age, it’s about doing something youíre passionate about, something that you really love to do, and will make you happy.
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