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Inspiring Conversations with Serena Woods of THE BEAUTY FACTORY

Today we’d like to introduce you to Serena Woods.

Hi Serena, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
You can’t really separate the past from a person’s present because everything ties together into this timeline of events that build into where you are right now. Much of my life has been spent feeling like I didn’t belong and not knowing where my own spot was. I think that might be an understandable feeling for the average foster child.

Always being the new one that no one knows. Having to jump into another family’s traditions, flavors, sounds, and smells made me feel like an imposter no matter how amazing the family was.

My journey through the Jackson County Foster Care system started with a 5-year-old me living in the Salvation Army on Broadway and ended with a 10-year-old me being adopted by a family in Southern Missouri. Adoption stories have their own shadows, but I’ve always had this feeling that if I keep pushing back against life, that I would find hope at some point.

And I did.

A lot of people, when they’re building something new and different, have to overcome feeling like an imposter. They have to endure being the only ones who can take the necessary steps to get to where they want to go. They have to accept the fear of uncertainty, leave safety behind, and venture out into the unknown territory of entrepreneurship.

In building my business, the skills I learned and thick skin I grew as a child on the Kansas City streets, in the foster care system, and as a young woman in everyone else’s world turned out to be a valuable asset.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I own an organic boutique hair salon. I wanted to create a space for people who want a different salon experience than is typical for our industry. Hair salons can be socially overstimulating and chemically toxic. About 20-40% of the population gets their energy in their quiet moments while 60-80% get their energy during social interactions. And, over 55% of the population prefer clean and organic products.

The challenge, for the 20-40%, or what I call “The Quiet Ones”, is that salons are highly social and they always have to gear themselves up to go. Many will actually put this part of their self-care off because social interaction is an energy drain. Additionally, salons, in general, are not considered “green” or “clean”.

I am one of the 20-40%, “The Quiet Ones”, and I am a consumer of organic and eco-friendly products and services. I’ve created an entirely new salon business model that caters to those who are energized away from social interaction. I have a salon that is calming, eco-friendly, has an inclusive culture of kindness, does not glamorize overworking, and has strong boundaries to protect it. I’m highly aware that I’m digging up ground that has never been cultivated. It’s resistant, full of rocks, and native weeds.

Anyone who has created boundaries for themselves and/or their business knows that they’ll get pushback from people who benefit from people and businesses having none. That’s probably the greatest challenge for anyone trying to lead others into different terrain. You have a lot of people who get it and want to be part of it, then you have people who just want a “walk-in” experience.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
THE BEAUTY FACTORY is an eco-friendly boutique salon. We have a lifestyle store where we sell products from small makers, local artists, and organic self-care. Every aspect of our business model is designed to reduce the negative impact on our environment and on our customer’s health. We’ve teamed up with Green Circle Salons to recycle our salon waste, we use a color line that is free of the known carcinogens, and we avoid hair services that cannot be done without them.

We make the mental, emotional, and physical health of our employees the priority because we believe that well-cared-for employees take better care of our customers. We do this by having regular sabbaticals, education, and constant support. We have sabbaticals four times a year, or once a season, where we shut down the salon for a week and rest. We pour into ourselves first and it’s out of our excess that we pour into others. We bring in outside educators and experts, life coaches, and mediation experts every other month to teach us various aspects of a well-rounded life.

We’re known for being the green salon that requires a consultation before the first service appointment. We actively calm the pace of salon life so that we can give each client 100% of our focus. We require consultations to ensure that we are at our best for their services. We don’t take walk-ins and we don’t double book because we value a predictable schedule that enables us to maintain our health, run on time for our clients, and cultivate an experience that inspires and rejuvenates.

What makes you happy?
I’m happiest when everyone around me feels valued and is able to relax. My psychology degree informs me that this is most likely a trauma response from never feeling like I added value to my world as a child. I felt like a burden and, over time, I learned to get value by trying to leave a place better than I found it.

The balance is found when I have to enforce the boundaries that protect THE BEAUTY FACTORY culture and ensure that the majority of my customers feel valued and are able to relax. I endure making someone upset when I have to tell them “no” in order to protect the experience of the many who’ve come to count on the peaceful stability of their time with us. For example, we won’t take a person if they’re too late for their appointment because it helps us stay on time for the others. I will endure the disappointment of one to ensure the satisfaction of the many.

So, more succinctly: I’m happiest when everyone follows the rules and is able to relax under our care.

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