Kayoko Matsumoto, en.Salon, Brookline, MA
Craftsmanship and Client Service
When Kayoko Matsumoto came to the U.S. to work as a hair stylist, she didn’t want to run her own business. She began her career at the age of seventeen in Yokohama, Japan. She trained for over ten years in Japan. In 2009, she moved to Boston, Massachusetts after being recruited by a salon on Newbury Street.
Since moving to the United States, Kayoko noticed the standards of stylists were different than that of Japan. “I realized there are good things about salons in Asia and good things about salons here, so why not combine my understanding and appreciation for both and start my own salon?”
In September of 2017, Kayoko opened her salon, en.Salon on Cypress Street in Brookline. Her business consists of basic hair services — cut and dry, color, styling, perms — and her specialty, a Japanese permanent hair straightening treatment. The straightening treatment is her niche offering. It is hard to find in the U.S. and entails an intricate process. However, she emphasizes that she doesn’t just focus on selling her hair services.
“I am committed to my clients and my services are centered around a concept called ‘shokunin’, which means ‘craftsmanship’ in Japanese. This means I take the time to customize my services based on the client’s wants and needs. I spend time with my clients and do consultations with them before I do anything to their hair.”
How Did CWE Help?
Kayoko enrolled in CWE’s 10-Week Business Planning course. “CWE gave me the boost I needed in the planning stages. While taking Business Planning, I was renting a chair in a salon.
When I started at CWE, I wasn’t sure what kind of salon I wanted to open. I knew I wanted to do it, but I didn’t know how or where. I didn’t know myself or what I was capable of. The class helped me get focused and taught me how to do research on demographics, etc. I was able to define my market and look at geographic areas in which I could best meet the needs of my target market, mostly Asian women. The class gave me concrete steps to take in planning my business.”
During the 10-week course, Kayoko met her CWE mentor, Jerry Johnson. “Jerry was very helpful. He advised me on everything I needed (marketing, promotion, numbers); he was really easy to talk to and was always brainstorming with me. Jerry’s experience and reassurance helped me when I was a bit insecure.”
Advice for Other Entrepreneurs?
- Everything you communicate to contractors, vendors, etc. should have an e mail or paper record. It’s important to be careful, especially when you’re all on your own.
- Do not let anyone take advantage of you. Know your worth, turn the tables and use every situation to your own advantage. Work through situations and stand your ground, reach out to mentors for help if you have to. Stay strong and in the end, the person who was trying to undermine you will be offering you whatever you want.
- Rise above conflict and difficult customers and focus on treating everyone right. It’s tough in the beginning, but remain consistent and it will work.
Special thanks to CWE volunteer writer, Deb Thomas.
Special thanks to CWE volunteer writer, J. Morgan Henry.