Q&A: [salon] 718 owner Michaella Blissett-Williams reppin’ Downtown Brooklyn coast to coast
Eight years ago, Michaella Blisset-Williams started a business in her Brooklyn brownstone. Today, this working mother of three has expanded [salon] 718 to three locations, and most recently represented Downtown Brooklyn at Yelp’s “Coast to Coast” small business conference in San Francisco.
We talked to Michaella about [salon] 718’s success, and her journey to get the business to where it is today.
Downtown Brooklyn Partnership: How did you start [salon] 718, and why did you choose Brooklyn?
Michaella Blissett-Williams: My salon had its humble beginnings in the lower level of my Brooklyn brownstone a bit over 8 years ago. As a working mother of three, I needed a business which offered me flexibility, and the ability to grow creatively. With [salon] 718, I could do this and develop a signature brand as I grew. At the repeated request of my clients to expand, we opened our first brick and mortar salon four years ago, and have grown to three current locations in the borough.
From the start, I wanted to make sure that we provided a personalized experience for each of our clients, catered to all people and hair types. Everyone who comes in should feel great - and valued - when they walk out.
DBP: What are your thoughts on being a successful Brooklyn business owner?
Blissett-Williams: In our business, of course it is important to keep up to date with trends. The most important thing, however, is to listen to your clients. The only way to build a lasting business is through providing a superior customer experience. At my salon, we are continually reviewing our customer feedback on forums such as Yelp, and striving to improve what we can so our clients feel like we are hearing them. This creates a culture of excellence. I’m a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Businesses program, which was an excellent program to put in focus the drivers for my business.
It’s also important to embrace local communities, and get involved in our neighborhoods. I moved to Brooklyn 16 years ago with my husband to raise our family here, so I want to ensure we contribute to this thriving community. My husband and I, and by extension each [salon] 718 location, are involved in our local schools and community outreach programs. We are committed to education and developing young talent. We do this by hiring interns from the local schools to keep the community growing.
DBP: Congrats on being the only business representing Brooklyn at the Yelp Coast to Coast conference. Can you talk to how that came to be, and what you took away from the experience?
Blissett-Williams: We were selected because we have one of Brooklyn’s busiest Yelp accounts. We met with Yelp’s CEO and other small business owners at their San Francisco headquarters to share our success stories and best practices. My biggest takeaway was understanding how key Yelp is to help small businesses compete again bigger businesses, and the power of advertising to continue to grow.
DBP: You have a large, loyal following. What makes [salon] 718 stand out in our busy city?
Blissett-Williams:Our stylists are artists, dedicated to their craft, and they want to see each client elevated so they feel their very best when they leave us. We pride ourselves on our rigorous training program.that focuses as much on customer service as on a stylist’s hair skills. We have created a friendly environment where creativity has flourished and where our clients feel comfortable and appreciated.DBP: Any future plans to expand further into Downtown Brooklyn?
Blissett-Williams: We are identifying small niches within Brooklyn where we can grow our business further. We’d like to expand to five locations.
DBP: What is the [salon 718] team looking forward to in 2017?
Blissett-Williams: We are the official 2017 styling partner for the Dress For Success Cinderella Moment and 20th anniversary Gala. The mission of Dress for Success is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, tools, and professional attire. My passion as a business owner has always been to invest in the community, and give back. This collaboration makes us all very proud.
[salon] 718 is also giving back to the community with the following deal: New clients to any of the three salons between now and March 31st 2017 receives 20 percent off the first visit. All regular customers also get 20 percent off any first time service. See the Downtown Brooklyn Deal for details
Follow [salon] 718 on Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.