Meet The Owner of Meraki Salon

Meet the owner of Meraki
Meet the owner of Meraki Salon, Michelle Ghassemi, and learn what makes Meraki Salon unique.

In an interview with Michelle Ghassemi, she spoke about her personal experiences, tips for owners or those thinking about owning/opening a business especially with employees, and how she has become an established, well-known successful small business and coaching others in her industry on how to do the same.

The Background

Michelle Ghassemi didn’t start with much. She grew up in a small town in Northern Michigan not just learning what hard work was but living every day in it. After achieving her GED she learned about a technical school from a friend where she attended cosmetology. She loved it, “It turned out I had a natural skill and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved meeting new people, learning new things, and making people feel good about themselves!” This solidified Michelle’s goal of becoming a career stylist where she was also a salon manager of several multi million dollar branches of hair salons and discovered a natural skill in the business side while simultaneously increasing her skills behind the chair. This later motivated her to become an independent/self employed hair stylist. She attended a community college taking business and communication courses to further enhance her skills as her own boss, wanting to fill the gaps of skills her previous employers had done for her. She then made the move to Raleigh in 2015 for her husband’s job and continued nurturing her ambitions along the way. In Raleigh she held several positions in local salons and spas not only behind the chair but in managing front desk teams. From here it only grew. While in Raleigh she had to step away from active work as a hair stylist after a decade, due to severe skin issues and toxicity in her blood but wanted to continue to use her passion for this industry in a different role with a different impact. She wanted to take the risk to become a business owner of a brick and mortar salon with employees and be fully immersed in the business and financial side. She’s never looked back and now she owns 2 branches of organic holistic non toxic salons in Raleigh and Durham, creating 7 figures in year 4 of business, with more on the horizon.

Q & A with Michelle Ghassemi

How would you describe your business in 10 words or less?

I would describe it as “An inclusive modern-luxury non-toxic salon+culture that is a safe space for Creatives (and Clients) to feel valued, accepted, seen, and heard.

How did you decide on the concept and name for your business?

When thinking about starting a business I had always wanted a name that had meaning and did not contain my namesake. This was primarily because I wanted my business to be bigger than just me and what I had to offer the community and industry. Meraki was perfect and really set the tone and foundation for our culture and business practices. It is a Greek word and means “doing something with total love and pure soul, leaving little pieces of yourself in your creative work.” It has helped me set my “why” over the years as my business has grown and faced various challenges.

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Meet the Owner of Meraki
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What drove you to finally start your own business?

It was always an idea I toyed with but it was only when I came to a turning point in my career that I decided to finally fully invest in myself. Frankly, I was tired of building other people’s businesses to great financial levels and wanted to take a risk on myself!

What was that turning point?

Somewhere along the way, I developed severe allergies and skin issues from the toxic chemicals I had used for over a decade. I realized I could no longer be behind the chair but I didn’t want to waste all my years of expertise and passion for the industry. The universe was giving me a wake up call to funnel my skills on a different path that could make more of an impact. So I decided to listen and move forward in this industry in a different role! I also knew if I didn’t try I would regret it.

What is the hardest part about owning your own business?

I would have to say managing everyone’s expectations, including my own and learning to delegate, how and when, have been the toughest for me personally.

On the alternative, what is your favorite part?

That one is easy, I love the people I coach and mentor. Watching them grow has been truly rewarding. I would also say it is humbling to look back and see how much this business and I personally have grown in ways I simply didn’t believe I could or was within my capabilities.

How do you balance work and life outside of work? 

I set boundaries on my time and communicate those clearly to others. Through the years I have set up more layers of leadership so my employees can continue to grow and so I can delegate more efficiently. I have also set morning and evening routines to recharge my battery so I can continue to pour into others. One tip to others that have truly helped me is to eat healthily and make time to move my body regularly. I spend time outdoors in nature which serves to refresh and refuel me.

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What advice can you offer to other business owners?

My biggest piece of advice is to delegate sooner rather than later, your attention to detail and consistency will take you farther than any “degree” or technical expertise ever could. Secondly, take some business and leadership classes and try to read/listen to info on those topics as well! And lastly, just keep going, even if it is just a toe or a tablespoon in the right direction, just keep going. Believe in yourself and believe you will succeed!

“Just keep going, even if it is just a toe or tablespoon in the right direction, just keep going.”

What are you proudest of both personally and/or professionally? 
  • Personally, I am most proud of getting myself out of debt and generational poverty. 
  • Professionally, would be receiving recognition for my business skills in my industry and in our organic niche in the US and the world. We have become well-known in the community for our nontoxic culture, education programs, our career path opportunities and technical skills. I am also extremely proud of hitting 7 figures by year 4, acquiring a second location in our covid year and being a profitable salon within a year and a half of opening our doors.
Who is someone who has inspired you?

My husband Hessam. He is my biggest supporter and continues to inspire me. He moved to another country to better his life and continues to teach himself things all the time. He’s compassionate, and he tells me every day he’s proud of me. He helps keep me sane, makes me laugh and helps me continue to believe anything is possible!

What is an event that changed your world completely?

When my husband and I lost his father it deeply changed us both. He had just recently visited us in the states when we first opened Meraki and passed shortly after our grand opening. It was horrible as he was like a father to me. He was such a cheerleader in my life. He was always so positive and warm to me as I navigated the new, challenging experiences of becoming a new business owner. I’ve always been somewhat of a lone wolf in my family, navigating life on my own terms so having him in my corner was a welcome change. With his passing, it taught me to be grateful for the life we have and it’s a privilege to grow older and experience more of what life has to offer. He always told us to do everything with a smile on our faces!

Lastly, what did opening a business teach you about yourself? 

I have learned that I am far stronger in my mind than I ever thought. Also, I have realized mindset is everything, it matters and it will take you far. I also recently realized I have a vast well of expertise that I have acquired over my professional and personal life. This has given me the tools and mindset needed to do what I do despite obstacles, negativity, unforeseen circumstances and situations.

Michelle Ghassemi faced many challenges and curveballs but due to the support of those around her and her passion for her work, she pushed through. Today Meraki has been awarded Top 200 hair salon and ranked as one of the best hair stylist salons in Raleigh & Durham, NC. Internationally it is ranked as a Top 50 organic salon and while they have always used nontoxic and organic products they have become Green Circle Certified. At Meraki, they will always provide a safe, clean, welcoming salon for both our guests and team. We are a dress code project salon, certified and educated through our industry which provides safer spaces for the LGBTQ+ communities in hair salons. 

Find Meraki Salon at these two locations:

Raleigh – 1301 Hillsborough St, Suite 102 Raleigh, NC 27605

Durham – 8128 Renaissance Pkwy #102, Durham, NC 27713