RADIUS, Beedie and Semester in Dialogue
Civic Innovation Change Lab
Tamara Connell, Tim Ames, Alia Sunderji
- Erika Aguilar | Health Sciences
- Seerit Hara | Health Sciences
- Rachel Tong | Criminology
- Nikki An | Interactive Arts & Tech
- Healthy City Strategy
City goal area(s):
- Cultivating Connections
Macrame Salon is a for-profit social enterprise beauty salon designed to support immigrant beauticians in transitioning their home-based businesses to a commercial salon space.
Using observational research on Vancouver Craigslist, over 58% of beauty service ads were posted by immigrants with home-based businesses. Ethnographic interviews revealed that these beauticians want to grow their business, yet they struggle to get more clients as their reach is limited to word-of mouth and their personal networks. Moving into a commercial salon space would likely increase these beauticians’ client reach; however, the average rental rate for a salon chair in Vancouver is $800/month. These beauticians may not have the finances or client base to break even – especially with a month-long commitment.
At Macrame Salon, immigrant beauticians can rent a chair for $15/hour or a private space for $20/hour. These rental rates are below market value compared to other beauty salons. Additionally, the hourly rates and pay-per-use rental system provides flexible scheduling options. Beauticians will pay a $25 monthly membership fee, which subsidizes the rent for the chairs and rooms. In return, the beauticians will receive business coaching and online promotion. The combination of our online marketing and the commercial salon space should enable greater client reach and credibility.
The idea of a social enterprise beauty salon was floated to immigrant beauticians and the reception was positive. Some users even asked us to notify them if the project moves forward. The students also conducted marketing research and learned that participants wanted a booking platform that was easy to use, as well as a thorough vetting process for the beauticians. Additionally, some participants knew of home-based immigrant beauticians who would join the salon.