She started out as a small town girl but had big dreams.

Fast forward to today – Dawn has spent over two decades working in an industry she loves, she is a successful salon owner and everyday she makes people beautiful from the inside out.

Dawn Hearty
Owner + Hair Designer

Texture Hair Boutique | Ottawa, ON

Instagram: @texturehairboutique

So let’s start from the beginning – what drew you to a career in the beauty industry?

When I think back to why or where it all began, all I think about, is a girl who wanted more from the small town she grew up in.

My Mom kind of steered me in the direction of doing hair. She wanted to be a hair stylist growing up, but never pursued her dream. She cut my hair, my siblings hair and also some of her nine siblings. I watched her chat with them, laugh and whisper like they had an inside joke. I wanted that. The ease of chatting and creating. I travelled after high school, had different jobs and when the time came to decide what I wanted from life, I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did.

At what point did you decide you wanted to make the move and become a salon owner?

I worked for only 2 other salons before opening my own. I knew early on that moving around too much would be detrimental to my career. My main goal was to be busy and have fun while making money.

17 years after getting my diploma, once my children were settled in school, I decided I wanted to try my hand at owning a salon.

It wasn’t easy.

Knowing how to cut hair is such a small part of owning a business.

Being a hair stylist is all about skill, artistry and working with people. Running a business is a whole other ballgame – with a new set of challenges. What was the biggest adjustment in becoming a salon owner?

The biggest adjustment was learning how to actually run a business. Finding the right people to work along side everyday was a challenge. Keeping them happy, clients happy, doing payroll, buying all the necessities for the salon, opening, closing, then going home to be a wife and mother, wasn’t easy. It was definitely difficult.

I hate to say this, but I will anyways because I’m not shy. Being a woman and running a business is also extremely hard. You say things the wrong way, the politically incorrect way, the tough way, the nice way, the stern way, the soft, the hard way. You are always judged and let’s face it, called a b*#ch lol. We have it harder than men because we care differently, we wear many hats, but I’ve always been up for a challenge.

In October 2018 Texture Hair Boutique celebrated 8 years of making Ottawa beautiful.

One issue that has always plagued the salon industry is no shows and late cancellations. You have been a co-owner of Texture Hair Boutique for 8 years now; how does this issue impact you as a business owner and a stylist.

One of the biggest challenges has to be the no shows and last minute cancellations.

The way to grow your business is to pre-book appointments while clients are cashing out. We use a system that confirms their date and time, 24 hours before their appointment. We may also call them as well. Our policies are also stated on the confirmation email of that appointment. This way, if they need to reschedule, we have plenty of time to accommodate their request.

I’m pretty booked up every day. When someone needs to reschedule they might have a very hard time getting in within the next few days – so they will always keep their original appointment.

This is another perk of being booked and pre-booking. I rarely get cancellations, I can look ahead and book vacations and such accordingly without having to cancel on them.

It goes both ways I feel!

Clients don’t like being rescheduled as much as I don’t like to be cancelled on.

This is how to keep everyone happy.

Social media has changed the beauty industry.  On one side it allows for stylist and salons to market themselves to clients and although it takes time – it is less expensive than traditional advertising. On the other hand – it has also given an unrealistic sense of beauty – with filters, Photoshop, wigs and extensions.

Has client education become more important now in letting them know which looks are achievable?

Social media is an amazing tool for boosting your business and advertising your work , but it can also be terrible for a small business.

As a group, we have to talk with clients and explain that a lot of pictures they show us are filtered and an unrealistic depiction of colour. As a whole, I feel people don’t feel our career is a hard one, that we can create miracles. Most of us are not out to destroy, break, and “not”achieve what the client is asking for. Sometimes our analysis is falling on deaf ears.

They want what they want.

I would rather say an absolute no to a look that I know cannot be achieved because of an unrealistic outcome, then send them on their way.

It will cost me more to have them write a negative review or come back and want it changed and expect that for free, because I didn’t do what they wanted. Our hands are tied in such situations.

I keep a good reputation by being completely honest, period.

It is up to us as an industry to explain that celebrities wear wigs, extensions and don’t mind spending money to maintain their look often.

Your salon is a member of Green Circle Salons. It’s an amazing program and I wish more salons were involved. How has being a part of this program impacted your business and what have clients reactions been like?

Being a part of Green Circle Salons was a no brainer for me. We have an obligation to help make sure our foils we use daily, colour that we mix and hair that we cut are being disposed of properly.

Before I heard of them, it always bothered me on how many foils were thrown away and extra colour would go down the drain or in the garbage.

Now with Green Circle Salon, the hair is used for oil spills in our waters, the foil are reproduced into more tin, and colour is disposed of properly and not into our water system. Most clients are very happy to hear about this!

You have had the opportunity to travel all over the world. Do you get inspired as an artist by the places you visit?

I’m very fortunate to have been able to travel all over the world for hair shows – Los Angeles, New York, Madrid, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Monte Carlo, Milan, Lisbon to name a few.

Going on these trips always gave me a boost in my career. They rejuvenated me, gave me a different perspective on our industry.

I’ve never competed in these, I don’t really feel the need to compete. I don’t like the panic feeling, the stage, the attention it all brings.

I just want to watch, learn and be around creative people – make connections and have fun with all the great people in our industry.

Dawn at a hair competition in Los Angeles in 2011 with her business partner Ramsey Sayah.

No matter how long you have been in any profession, there is always room to grow and learn. Who have been some of your mentors throughout your career?

I’ve been doing hair for 25 years. Wow, hard to believe actually.

I’ve never really had “a mentor” per say.

When I first started, I watched and learned from the senior stylists at the salons I worked at, now as I’m older, I learn from the younger stylists that work for me! It’s amazing what they can teach us as well.

I am inspired by everyday people. I would sound cliche if I named off a bunch of celebrity stylists. That could be any number of us, who had a break or were in the right place. Just my opinion.

There is one person that I have to mention though. He inspired me with his personality, talent, love of the business, the way he always made time for us. Always stayed humble and grounded and I’m sure we can all say, we are better people for knowing him.

Fabio Sementilli. 

Dawn with Fabio at an industry event in Madrid, Spain.

What does being a stylist mean to you?

Being a stylist is more than just cutting and colouring hair. We have the power to make people feel and look amazing. It’s not just an, on the outside thing either.

We are healers, psychiatrists, friends, family, a safe place for people to share feelings. I know I’m more accepting of people and understand that we are all very different, yet similar in many ways. We are not always going to please everyone and clients come and go.

I’m just so fortunate to have met so many great people along the way! No regrets, just learning everyday. Where else can you get all of this?!

Do you have a daily beauty routine?

I do have a daily routine! Hair and makeup is a must for me and always has been. I do not feel as confident if I’m not put together to face the day. Looking your best (most days) enables me to be confident in what I’m telling my clients. You can’t show up not caring, and try to inspire others to look and feel good. Of course, working out a few times a week and eating healthy goes a long way. 

What are some of your hair and make-up must haves?

I have thick, curly hair, so a must have is a product that tames the beast – Lol.

I use creams instead of mousse or gels. I like soft curls that aren’t wet looking. Same with when I straighten my hair.

I like Pureology Shine Bright Taming Serum . I use a blow drying cream, Kersatase – Nutritive Blowdry Care. A few pumps of oil to finish after blow drying  and hairspray is a must. Nothing hard though – soft but holds.

Makeup must have is mascara – Charlotte Tilury and Makeup Forever are my favourites.

Eyebrow pencil – Anastasia.

And I have an arsenal of eyeshadow palettes – Anastasia, Tartiest, Smashbox, Laura Mercier to name a few.

How would you describe your personal style?

My personal style is made up of nothing expensive. We are always getting colour on us. I use to dress up way more. I’m more casual as I age but always wear jewelry, and a nice top and of course good shoes. I use to never wear jeans, now I’m most comfortable in them. I think you can pull a look together without spending lots on a day to day basis.

What is your favorite way to pamper yourself?

The only way I pamper myself is to get a monthly massage. God knows we need that in our business. Good for the body and mind. I try to keep my nails painted so they don’t look like whatever colour I was using that week.

Finally – what three words describe you best?

I have a hard time talking about myself and am terrible with compliments. Working on that one…

If I had to describe myself in 3 words: ambitious – understanding – adaptable.