Why She’s Top 40: For cultivating Edmonton’s hairstyling creative class.
Key To Success: “When you have employees who feel safe about openly expecting more from their employer, it elevates the business and the industry.”
When Lauren Hughes was 15, she picked up a pair of scissors and started to cut her own locks.
“I was at school one day, and my hair was down past my shoulders, and I just wanted to cut it all off, so I grabbed scissors and cut it down to my neckline,” says Hughes, creative director of Mousy Browns hair salon. “I really enjoyed it, so I kept doing it and began doing some of my friends’ hair too.”
She had found her calling, and two years later she enrolled into Edmonton’s Est-elle Academy of Hair Design to begin learning the hairstyling trade. After graduating in 1997, Hughes spent the next few years working in various salons until 2002, when she landed a job at the award-winning Rainbow Room in Scotland.
“That was an amazing experience that basically changed my career and put me on the path I’m following today,” she says about the salon, which won several awards while she was an employee, including Salon of the Year at the British Hairdressing Business Awards in 2003.
The Rainbow Room’s management style taught Hughes how to provide stylists with the chance to turn their jobs into viable careers by focusing on continued education. So when she returned to Edmonton in 2007, Hughes opened the first Mousy Browns location on 124th Street, and put her education-first business model into practice.
Once a stylist has been with the company for a year, Hughes pays for that person to travel to New York to take classes at Bumble and bumble, a world-class hair-care company that offers courses in design, business and networking strategies.
“It’s all about providing them with careers,” she says about the approximately 25 stylists she employs through her two locations, the second just off Whyte Avenue. “I want to better the industry as a whole, because every time you better an industry, people take a second look at the city it’s in.”
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Mousy Browns has celebrities taking a second look at the city they’re in, too. When Lady Gaga and Chantal Kreviazuk had shows in Edmonton, they found their ways to Mousy Browns for trims.
“Making Edmonton better and elevating the craft of hairdressing is what we’re all about,” Hughes says. “I want people to look to Edmonton as a hairstyling centre like Europe.”