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Wage Watchers : How much does the owner of a hair salon earn?

17:33 21/03/2014
Sigi Van Steen, 35, from Mechelen, talks about what she earns and how she spends it.

What do you do?
For the last 11 years I’ve managed my own hair salon, Carsigia, in the Battel district of Mechelen. My husband, Frank, also works at the salon: He cuts hair primarily for men, while I take care of the women. Good client interaction is of utmost importance to us: We do not want to be a hair production line, but instead build a relationship with our clients so they trust our advice. That is why, for example, we only take clients who schedule appointments, to avoid long wait times.

My husband has received barber training to cut men’s hair. That includes training on how to properly shave and treat men’s hair, as well as giving face massages. During the first season of Big Brother he was asked to go to house every week to cut and shave all the men’s hair. The guys in the house loved it.

Do you enjoy the work?
Of course. You don’t start your own business as an independent if you don’t like the work. The job is incredibly varied; there is the cutting and colouring of hair, but there is also ordering supplies, taking classes, promotions, maintaining contact with clients and administration. Every day involves hair but also other challenges. Carsigia is an initiative that I started with passion, and I am proud of how far we’ve come.

It is difficult to be an independent?
I was fortunate to have learned the ropes of running my own business during my earlier work in a different hair salon. While working there, my boss had to go on maternity leave, and I had to do everything on my own. Still, working as an independent comes with its own risks: for example, you don’t get paid for sick or holiday leave. Also, if the clients aren’t making appointments, you don’t make any money.

Has the financial crisis made things difficult for your business?
Crisis or not, hair grows all the same. So sooner or later people have to come and get their hair cut. Only during expensive periods, like in early September, will clients put off their haircut by a week or so.

How many hours do you work per week?
We’re open from Tuesday to Saturday, and on Thursday we work later. But actually, we don’t keep track of our hours. Even is the salon is closed, work still needs to be done, like ordering supplies. Running a hair salon is my passion, so I don’t mind the hours I work.

What do you think of the pay?
Carsigia is a small family business. Our family has to be able to live on what we earn at the salon. But we are happy with our net monthly salary of €2,100. I would in any case not want to work for someone else anymore.

Do you manage to save?
Yes. We put aside some money for retirement when possible, and then some. Also this salon is an investment the will be profitable in the end.

What do you like spending money on?
On vacation: every summer we like to go somewhere warm and sunny.

What do you not like to spend money on?
On luxury products, like expensive cars.

What would you do if you won the lottery?
I would continue working, what else? You can’t go shopping every day just because you win the lottery. But I would try to go on holiday a little more often as well as give some money to my kids. 

Written by The Bulletin