Lifestyle Business

'Keep on swimming': Business tips from 'bald man who invested in a salon'

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo - Philstar.com
'Keep on swimming': Business tips from 'bald man who invested in a salon'
'Invest in people': Culture Salon Creative Director Jim Ryan Ros with Miss Universe Philippines queens Kimberly “Billie” Hankenson (top, left) and Victoria Velasquez Vincent (bottom, left); Centro Holistico and Culture Salon co-owner Dr. Ryan Em Dalman (right)
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo; Culture Salon/Released

MANILA, Philippines — “Oh no! No money, no income!”

Such was how Dr. Ryan Em Dalman first reacted when his wellness clinic chain Centro Holistico had to shut down at the onset of the pandemic. His kids, their family, their employees, how are they going to survive?

Like many who lost jobs or livelihood, Dalman acted fast and saw starting a new business as a way to cope.

“So ang iniisip ko nu’n kung anong magandang business to open for the pandemic. So marami kaming tinary. Meron kaming tinary na vegetables… then we came up with the COVID testing, which we are still doing now.”

He also thought of a spa or a bar, but scratching his bald head, he had an idea: Why not a salon? 

His wife, Dr. Candy Drilon-Dalman, goes to Culture Salon for her regular color touch-ups and for “the best mani-pedi” (manicure and pedicure). She told Dr. Ryan that the salon was having a hard time, so he approached the salon’s Creative Director Jim Ryan Ros for a collaboration.

Ros recalled to Philstar.com that after over two decades as a hair and makeup professional, he spent at least two years planning his salon — only to be ordered to shutdown five days since introducing it to the press on March 10, 2020. 

"I know that at one point, I will do something sustainable for a career, so before I reached 40, I told myself that I should have my own salon," narrated Ros, who named his salon after '60s hair science became "hair culture" because having a haircut and hair color have since become a part of everyone's culture.

In the past two years when many industries, including the salon industry, were on-and-off because of lockdowns, Dalman learned a lot about running a salon for the first time.

“First of all, I learned about hair, which I don’t have,” he quipped, sharing that his wife always corrected him, “It’s salon, not parlor.”

The following are his other takeaways that he would like to share to fellow entrepreneurs for their own survival:

1. Always keep your eyes open for opportunities.

Two years since the pandemic began, the doctor asked himself, “What’s a good business for opening up?”

“That’s my other passion, business. So my eyes are always open for opportunities,” said the Functional Medicine practitioner who teaches acupuncture and is also a guest lecturer to young doctors and a member of the board of trustees of Philippine Academy of Acupuncture.

2. Invest in a business you believe in.

“To start off, honestly, wala akong alam sa salon business. Obviously, wala akong hair. For more than 20 years, ako nag-gugupit sa sarili ko, sa harap ng toilet… It’s really not connected to who I am, what I really do. But it’s more of me being the engine in the company,” Dalman said.

He believes that a business will succeed for as long as you believe in it.

“It’s been a challenge, to be honest. We came in March or April (2020). There’s a lockdown somewhere then. So when we came in, nag-lockdown ulit. But, every time we open up, every time we get a full month, it has been doing well. So tama naman ‘yung gut feel ko before na it’s really a good investment.”

3. When you invest in a business, you are also investing on people.

Apart from seeing a good potential for Culture Salon to pick up for as long as there are no more lockdowns, for Dalman, investing in the brand is not only a good opportunity to contribute to the hair grooming industry, but also on its many talents.

4. Learn from handling different people.

Investing in the salon came with a bonus for Dalman: meeting new people.

“Sabi ko, wala palang difference sa clinic. Because in our clinic, we also meet people. We also help them with their problem.”

To ensure the salon’s sustainability, Dalman and his partners tweak and upgrade the salon and its staff.

“We are used to handling medical professionals; now we're handling stylists. In Centro Holistico, we’re seven years now and we're still learning. That's key in business.”

5. Invest in marketing. 

While many Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) thought of marketing as extra expense, for Dr. Ryan, the marketing that Dr. Candy spearheaded for Centro Holistico and Culture Salon effectively pushed their products and services and pulled in clients and sales.

In social media marketing, he said, the key is consistency in theme and branding. 

6. If only money-motivated, a business will not last. 

A business, said Dalman, must be higher than yourself. He is in business, for example, because he wants to leave a legacy to their kids.

“My goal in life is to give them a bright future for us to have enough money to let them study to do whatever they want,” he shared.

“I want to be there when my kids have weekday school activities. I want to be that parent because I used to be an athlete and my parents were always there for me. (Thus,) having a business gives me not only money but also time and security.”

Goal is what a business brings you, he said, and not just money.

7.  ‘If your business is dead, let it be and just start again.’

Many people are afraid of starting something and starting anew, but not Dr. Ryan.

According to him, it might hurt but you have to accept that if a business is a failure, then it is what it is. But remember: every end is a new beginning.

“You start from step one and even if you go back to former steps, there’s no such thing as going backwards. You've grown and mature, because when you're there, you've learned a lot.”

8. ‘Stay hungry and always go back to why you did it.’

Dr. Ryan’s visions for the businesses he co-owns are “to be good and to expand.” 

In business, as in life, he stands with Dory of “Finding Nemo”: “Keep on swimming.”

“I never knew it will be my motto in life, from a cartoon, it gave me so much inspiration,” he shared. 

“I don’t believe in luck. Life happens so keep on moving forward.”

RELATED: Valentine's 2022: ‘Salon pampering good for mental health,' doctor couple says on self-love


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