Michaya Pollard

Salonchay Hair Salon

Tell me about your business—what is it, what’s your pitch, who is your target audience?
Well, I am a hair stylist and I make and maintain healthy hair, in short. But my pitch is that I specialize in transformative looks. If you have long hair, but want it short, or have short hair and would like it long, if you want to change color or add flair that better reflects you, I can do that— with a beautiful outcome as a certainty. My target market is African-American women, from the ages of 16-68. I service other demographics and have mastered a huge portion of my trade, but those women are naturally drawn to me, so they are the target audience.

How’s business going lately?
Considering all things, it is doing well. I’ve noticed that when the economy is not so good, some people cut back on what they consider a luxury, but usually people decide in rough times to invest in themselves and so my industry has maintained itself.

What were you doing before you began this?
I was a homemaker and an at-home mom. Before that, I had worked for the United States Postal Service as a clerk and for a major phone company.

What have you appreciated most about your involvement with Ventures?
In reality, when I first began Ventures., I was exhausted with being an entrepreneur, not because I wasn’t successful, but because I felt un-supported and alone. I knew I could be managing things better, I just didn’t know where to begin. James says, the good thing about being an entrepreneur is that there is no one to tell you what to do; the bad thing about being an entrepreneur, is that there is no one to tell you what to do! And he is right. Ventures gave me a support group of like-minded individuals who were less judgmental of the mistakes I was making and willing to help me to make right decisions. I understood not only how to avoid future mistakes, but also why I was making them. And they gave me something small business’ owners rarely have but desperately need: accountability.

What were you surprised to learn during classes?
Everything, really. I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew. I knew quite a bit from trial and error, but concepts like “target market” and “sales pitch,” etc. were details I was semi-consciously developing (very haphazardly)—when I could put a name, or facts, or logical method to what I was doing, things became more concrete, more focused. It’s been said that sometimes running your business can get in the way of running your business, and that’s true! It was happening to me! The everyday operations (opening, closing, styling, keeping customers happy )were keeping me from sitting down & managing it . . . understanding it. Ventures helped me understand my business.

Would you recommend us to other entrepreneurs starting out?
YES!!! I already do! I tell people who want to start a business about Ventures. because it’s been invaluable to me! I imagine how much more successful I could have been had I gotten involved with the program BEFORE I began my business.

Why is it important for community to have this kind of support and resources for small business entrepreneurs?
Well, self-employment is empowerment to my community. Every day, I see young people who admire what my husband and I are doing and say, ‘I’m inspired. I want to own a business. If you can do it, I can do it.'” Personally, this is my bread and butter. This is all my husband and I do to take care of our children, pay the bills, enjoy life. We don’t have another source of income. So if we fail, a family fails; and a community forfeits some small chance to grow from the inside out.”

What words of advice would you give other entrepreneurs?
Don’t lose your vision, do whatever it takes to stay integral. And never let your passion die.