I’m a curly-haired girl and my hair is completely unpredictable - I’m the kind of person who gets nervous whenever I walk into a hair salon. But imagine being a toddler that’s terrified of scissors, or never had a haircut before. And then imagine that toddler’s mother – watching their nervous little one about to have their first haircut AND probably having unrealistic expectations of what their hair is going to look like afterwards. Now imagine that you are the owner of that salon, trying to make sure everyone leaves happy – sound stressful? Not to Eda!
Eda is a mother of three and the owner of Edamama - a local Brooklyn hair salon and activity center for little ones. The first thing I notice is that Eda is extremely laid back and friendly – it should come as no surprise that she tells me the key to success is creating a welcoming atmosphere. When I walked into Edamama, I immediately noticed the underwater story, which Eda’s first two children dreamed up, along with its “characters”– an octopus, a mermaid, a yellow submarine, and “Sharky” the shark. Edamama offers an expansive children’s library and weekly activities and classes – from “Puppetsburg” (a puppet show in Williamsburg) to singalongs, and “Little Yoga Hour.” Mothers can bring their children for the sing-a-long and then can later bring them back to the “place with the octopus” – a place that they now love and trust – to get a haircut. It’s what Eda calls “a happy place”, and she’s planned these details intentionally in order to create the best possible experience for everyone.
Eda wasn’t always in the children’s hair salon business. Prior to Edamama, Eda spent many years managing global brands in advertising – wooing clients, pitching businesses and endlessly working on campaigns. With a third child on the way, she realized that she wouldn’t be able to give her work the attention it deserved, and she’s not one to “half ass” anything. She opened her own business, one that brought her closer to her world of motherhood, and she’s now “100% all in.”
Here is my Q&A with Eda:
Q: You had a successful career in project and brand management in advertising. How did you transfer skills from the corporate world to running a small business?
A: I came from a world of brand building, so I harnessed everything I had learned to properly build my own brand. I spent a long time thinking about the strategy and working through every detail, and knew what things would be important to me. Even the little details, like the characters in here, were thought through. My kids helped me come up with the characters, but I wrote full character briefs before I had them painted on the walls and turned into hanging papier-mâché art. I also came from an industry that’s very service-based – but instead of servicing clients, I am now making sure that all the mothers that come in here are very happy. Parents worry, and as a mother I totally understand that. My job is to make sure they don’t have to worry. More than half of my time is spent making sure that customer service is the best it can be.
Q: How do your children feel about the business?
A: My children have always been a part of the business, right from the start. The underwater theme was their idea, and they helped me with the characters. They have been involved in building the business, and it’s been a great bonding experience. The children love coming to the salon, and they are also proud of me and all I’ve accomplished, which is an incredible feeling. At school one day, my daughter was finishing a paper where they had to fill in the blanks. One of them was “My mom is _________” and she put “My mom is amazing” – it filled me with such joy! I want them to feel proud of the salon and to be happy with it. It’s something that’s become very fulfilling.
Q: You have three children and a small business – how do you do it!?
A: I was pregnant with my third child, my youngest daughter, when I signed the lease on the space...and it was a lot of work, juggling two children, a pregnancy, and a new business! I had a C-section with her, and I had to be back in the salon a week later. Sometimes when you are working at that kind of pace, you have to forgive yourself if you drop the ball on something. The saying “it takes a village” is true and my employees have become part of my village and I am so grateful for them. It’s like running a show every day and you need to be prepared for the weirdest things to happen – because they WILL happen! You just have to keep reminding yourself that you need to turn up and do your best every single day. That’s all you can ask of yourself. It’s hard sometimes, but it pays off.
Finally, if you had 3 tips for other mothers and small business owners that you wish someone would have told you, what would they be?
1) Owning your own business is a 24/7 commitment. I was aware of this before we opened the store, but what I did not realize is the significant shift it created in our family life. I don't get to see my family as much as I used to on the weekends as those days are the busiest days for the business. And I am at the store. Instead I take two days off during the week to compensate the weekend family time. I would advise others to think through the impact of owning their business on the family life and be aware of potential shifts before committing to it.
2) Make sure your partner is on-board with your commitment and what it means for him/her. I'm so lucky to have my amazing husband who always had been encouraging and helpful. I would not be able to do what I am doing without him. Because of him I have the piece of mind about my family and can focus on the business.
3) Make time for yourself to rest, sleep and workout. I think the first thing to fall by the wayside is me-time. In order to not to burn yourself out you need to carve time for yourself.