What started in her kitchen sink has moved to a brand new salon in downtown Regina, as Jennifer Dubois is watching her dream become a reality.
“It’s always been a dream of mine since I finished hair school,” she says. “One of the things I’ve always wanted to be was my own boss. I wanted to take the right steps to get there.”
The mother of two, Eagle and Journey, and her supportive husband Michael, have come a long way together.
Miyosiwin Salon offers haircuts, colors, makeup application, nail care, to various spa services. Dubois currently has three stylists: Genalle Sparvier, Naomi McArthur and Angel Pelletier, and plans to expand to six staff. The salon is located on a busy downtown corner at Broad Street and 11th Avenue and has floor to ceiling windows that brightens up the beauty shop.
Miyosiwin is a Cree word for beauty.
“I wanted something to represent my background,” she says. “I knew if I had a First Nations name, a lot of people would recognize it. People who do speak Cree know what it means and that’s what I wanted to represent and honour my culture.”
Not only is the name unique to her business but Dubois honours her Indigenous cultural tradition by following protocols around hair. She asks her clients if they want to take their hair home once it’s been cut. Dubois learned of the importance a years ago when a new First Nations client came into her salon and Dubois learned that her client followed her Indigenous beliefs and protocols about the sacredness of hair.
“I asked her if she wanted to take her hair home, she was a bit surprised that I asked that,” she says. “It took her a few moments to let it set in and after she thanked me afterwards. After that, I was like ‘Yup, this is it, this is what I want to do’.”
Donna Fritzke from Regina has been a client of Dubois for 10 years. Since her first time sitting in Dubois’s chair, she was impressed with her skills.
“I went to her a few times and I really liked how she cut hair, she was good,” says Fritzke. “I wouldn’t think about going to somebody else.”
Fritzke was aware about the plans of Dubois growing her business.
“I knew from day one, so I started seeing her at her home salon,” says Fritzke. “She was going to school to get her education and with her main goal to open a salon. I think it’s awesome that she stuck to it and succeeded. She’s definitely stayed on track. She knew what she wanted.”
Dubois has been a hair stylist for 13-years. She started when she finished hair school in 2004 at Richards Beauty College, now called The Style Academy. After working in the salon for awhile, she started working from home while she was on maternity leave.
“I slowly started to develop the [salon at home] while I was going to school,” she says. “I started off doing my clients in the kitchen, rinsing them out in the kitchen sink.”
In 2012, Dubois and her husband bought a house and in the same year she took second place in CBC’s Boombox competition for emerging entrepreneurs. She used the prize money to create her workspace in her new home.
“I got a business license from the city and I started to make sure I was following proper procedures and filing my taxes,” she says.
About a year ago, Dubois received a grant from the Saskatchewan Indian Equity Foundation (SIEF). She needed a business plan, and projected her business startup cost to be about $150,000.
“We’re going through the whole process right now,” she says. “I was approved through SIEF and they will provide me with a portion of that.”
Her startup costs included renovations as Dubois added two rooms to her salon and also ensured there was a sound barrier by insulating the walls in the spa rooms. The salon officially opened on February 28th.