By AUSTIN SMITH
Taking on a new venture is always risky. The unknowns and the complications that are almost sure to arise along the journey can be enough to keep anyone from forging onward but sometimes a pathway can be found in unexpected places.
Jessi Frieberg and Kristina Taylor faced that uncertainty during the tumultuous era of COVID and came out on the other side whole — and then some. They did it together, and they credit their success to their hard work, an awesome landlord, and the support of a community about which they knew very little.
Frieberg and Taylor’s College Area salon, Culture Hair Collective, celebrated its one-year anniversary this past fall. The celebration was also billed as their grand opening due to not being able to have a proper one when they officially started doing business at the beginning of the pandemic.
“It’s been better than expected,” Frieberg reflects. “I didn’t know too much about [the area] but I feel like it has been amazing. Clients that come to us are so excited that there is this new salon that is cute and trendy and the people are so nice. Everyone is so chill, even the college students that we get are so chill. The neighborhood has been great.”
The event was co-hosted by the College Area Business District and was cheerfully attended by friends, family, and neighbors. After having to “wing it” in their first few months of operating to build up bookings, the two entrepreneurs soaked in the scene of smiling supporters while also remembering that they almost entirely missed out on leasing their gorgeous space. That’s when luck and fortune collided with their determination and hard work.
Their landlord, Pat Geary of CEG Advisors, is one of the heroes in Frieberg and Taylor’s entrepreneurial journey. Geary had already shown them one of the company’s other properties in the College Area with which they’d fall in love but a quicker bid from another salon owner had kept them from being able to move in. That blow would have been more than discouraging if not for Geary convincing them to take a chance on their current space at 6663 El Cajon Blvd.
“He warned us before we came [to see the space] it was a total fixer-upper”. Although it is even further away from the highly coveted North Park neighborhood in which Frieberg and Taylor had originally been looking, they kept an open mind by looking past the work that needed to be done and took Geary up on his offer to help them fix up and maintain the property after signing the lease.
That chance they took on their landlord and the College Area was not an easy one to make considering the inevitable obstacles new business owners are expected to encounter as part of the process. “There’s so much that you don’t know until you kind of get into it,” Frieberg says. “You have to buy all the new equipment and stuff but then there’s your taxes, all the product, electricity… it all adds up.”
The journey of building a successful small business is certainly an uncertain one but with a bit of faith and a little luck, each step can be made that much easier. Fortunately for the owners of Culture Hair Collective, the College Area provided it all.
— Austin Smith writes on behalf of the College Area Business District.