Sophia Jab began her entrepreneurial journey in the beauty industry in 20 years ago to date. It was in 2010 that she discovered hair botox and other trending hairstyles that were not yet known in Montreal, QC. With her expertise in the beauty industry, she decided to bring her exclusive products to life. Just two years later, she launched her new business XOX by SO ; since then rising to the top of her field, becoming one of the biggest beauty brands with an academy to train other stylists in the industry under the Institute BE umbrella. Her journey is one of resilience, mastery and passion for her craft. What an exciting journey!
Tell us about your journey and path to success.
It has been since 2002/2003 that I launched my career in the beauty industry. It has been a field that I loved since I was a young girl, that when I launched myself in it I realized I was too young for it. For that reason, I decided to travel to Miami to really learn the industry from the best in the craft and that’s where I discovered products that we didn’t have access to back home. Upon my return, I brought back with me hair extensions and products for the hair that we’ve never seen before.
After testing and resting these products, principally known in Brazil, I decided to do business with the same company and bring them to Montreal.
All this brought me to 2012, after having exhaustively tested products, mainly known in Brazil, I decided to do business with a company in this same country to have the products shipped to Montreal. After two tests of this product and a lot of patience, we finally decided on three products that we only sell to professionals. We have a problem here in Canada where people put their mark on any product and that causes problems because they sometimes endorse products that they have never tested for quality and that ruins the market in addition to hurting the market. these and those who disseminate all their efforts and energies have created a product of exceptional quality. It was this same year that my company introduced Hair Botox in Canada. We are truly the pioneers in the country with this product. I’m proud to say that our company hasn’t had any problems to such an extent that we don’t even have a complaints department because we don’t have one at all. It’s quite an accomplishment in itself.
Since 2015 we have started giving training on the use of our products for the simple reason that nowadays hairdressers are not trained on the use of certain products and treatments and we absolutely want to maintain our quality service. There are people who are not from the field who do our treatments, for example waitresses, real estate brokers, people from all kinds of professions who want a change of career and become a treatment technician, so we supervise them so that they can offer quality service. The beauty is that they don’t even have to take their hairdressing courses and our training is in person. Since the pandemic, our training has been offered online, is quick and we provide visuals to help them that we created during the time of the pandemic. In addition, we provide all the necessary materials and follow them up with our clients, questions and answers (which in themselves are extremely detailed) and all this again to ensure the best possible quality. Even though today we have competition, we still had the exclusivity of these products from 2012 to 2018 which gave us a very large market and very loyal customers.
Did you always know you would be successful?
At the beginning, when I started with Hair Botox, I wanted to have an exclusive product. That was my goal from the very beginning. When I started advertising to promote it and attract customers, what it did was other salons started to get interested. It was with more and more demand that I began to realize the true potential of this product. Our growth happened very naturally. It helped me a lot that I was a very well known hairstylist in the hair extension business. People come to me from all over for cuts and extensions.
Can you tell us the steps that you took to become recognized at the top of your industry ?
To be honest, I have a very eccentric personality. I am talented and add to that the fact that I like to laugh and play pranks a lot, it is not very difficult for me to keep my clientele and to grow it. It comes naturally to me. My clients are always satisfied, we have fun every time we see each other. It’s a great recipe for success and this journey is very personal to me. It is for this reason that I started to attract public figures like Cynthia from double occupancy and one talking to the other and suddenly people approached me to do collaborations which opened me up. the door to their networks and all lined up thereafter. It is for this reason when 2018 I did not have the choice to open the BE institute because I could no longer produce with demand. I had almost two months of waiting and with this traffic I decided it was the perfect time to open my own salon with employees who need customers. The beauty is that when people trust you they also trust your salon because your name represents the salon.
I decided that instead of hiring people who already have clients, I chose to take girls that I really like who don’t have any traffic and give them free training. Consequently, when my clients cannot be with me, they weren’t disappointed because I trained all my employees and we all work the same way.
How do you decide who to work with?
For me it was something special. When you have a big heart and want to help everyone, it makes it difficult to say no. Unfortunately my first round of employees was a very painful experience. I chose to take on acquaintances and friends that I wanted to help. I quickly realized that this is not always the best choice. When it comes to your friends, what happens quite often is that you realize that they don’t like that you have that control over them and the business isn’t running to its full potential. It is important to mention that this was the first time that I had my own business and employees. However, like any difficult experience we learn from our mistakes. After cleaning up the staff, I started hiring people I didn’t have a close connection with which made all the difference and allowed me to run the business my way. I also came across a few rare gems that were okay to lead and trusted in my salon which resulted in success for all of my employees. I have to mention it, but we have a wonderful clientele at the show.
What are the core brand values that you bring to your salon and that you expect others to have?
I would say the organization and discipline are the values that must possess the living room. With its two values, success is never far away. Remember that employees are independent employers who work for their own accounts. Its employees must bring customers to the show, even if I give them to start and when the traffic is too great, but without these values it is very difficult to build a good loyal clientele. These days, customers are built on social media, and if you’re not organized and disciplined to post on Instagram, your week may not be busy. This is the reality these days.
How do you stay motivated?
At the beginning I had a vision of how to behave in order to be successful which led me to be too severe and intense at times because we must not forget that the living room is my baby and it is natural that I want its success. Over time, I learned that there is no point in having an attitude or demeaning an employee. I realized that it is better to stay calm, to sit down with the person in question and have an open and honest conversation to be able to talk about difficulties and come up with concrete solutions. After this discussion I find that it is also essential to put it in writing so that both have an understanding and that the person knows that we have spoken, we have come to an understanding and we will change what must be changed. I find that having a positive attitude is also key because this energy is contagious. Conversely, if I bring a negative attitude to work it will be felt throughout the living room and others will follow.
Looking back at everything you’ve accomplished, what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned that has shaped you as a business woman?
To always focus on ourselves. I always tell my employees that “the day you stop watching your competition is the day you’re going to be happy with what you’re doing.” You have to stay on your own path and do what you have to do and let others do what they have to do so you will find your joy, your creativity, what is unique to you and success will follow.
What are the services you offer at your salon?
The company XOX by SO is a company that sells Hair Botox to professionals to apply as treatments to their clients. We have other related products – they’re the ones who have to buy it to resell it to their customers. Regarding my salon, the BE Institute is the place where we mainly do our treatments such as Botox, NanoPlasty, Brazilian smoothing. In addition, we do a lot of hair extensions, we have two hairstylists in coloring, a specialist in micro-blading and we have a beautician who offers all services for tattoo removal and all laser services.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
XOX will always keep riding and I’ll keep it because he’s my little baby. I’m happy with the BE Institute at the moment and as we always say when a company is doing extremely well you have to consider selling it. If I am given the choice to keep either the living room or XOX by SO, I will definitely keep XOX by SO. You have to remember that it takes a lot of running a beauty salon.
Photo Credit – Eliane Lemire
For for information on XOX by SO visit their page : @xoxbyso
Read XOX by SO Magazine here : xoxbysomagazine.com
Follow Sophia Jab on Instagram : @Sophiajab__ @institut.be
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