Macrame Salon

Metro Vancouver

Macrame Salon

A social enterprise beauty salon designed to empower immigrant beauticians.

School:

SFU

Department:

RADIUS, Beedie and Semester in Dialogue

Course:

Civic Innovation Change Lab

Instructors:

Tamara Connell, Tim Ames, Alia Sunderji

Student Team:

  • Erika Aguilar | Health Sciences
  • Seerit Hara | Health Sciences
  • Rachel Tong | Criminology
  • Nikki An | Interactive Arts & Tech

Strategy:

  • Healthy City Strategy

City goal area(s):

  • Cultivating Connections

Summary

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.

Macrame Salon

Next Steps

The student team is still exploring future plans for the project. If they move forward, they plan to prototype further with the user group. They would also like to apply for start-up funding through RADIUS and connect potential partners such as settlement agencies, non-profits, and the City of Vancouver.