Innovators of Beauty: Martha Matilda Harper (1857 – 1950)

You’ve probably heard of beauty entrepreneurs such as Elizabeth Arden, Vidal Sassoon and even Guy Tang. But, does the name Martha Matilda Harper sound familiar? She’s the greatest businesswoman you’ve never heard of.

From servant to innovator, Martha is best known for developing the concept of the salon, inventing the reclining shampoo chair and creating the first franchise system. These innovations would go on to play a huge role in transforming the hairstyling industry.

Born on September 19, 1857 in Oakville, Ontario, Martha started working at the age of 7. Eventually, she began working for a German holistic doctor who taught her about hair /scalp health and gave Martha his secret formula for hair growth. After immigrating to Rochester, New York to work as a servant, she began manufacturing her own hair growth shampoo in a backyard shed. With her entrepreneurial spirit and her life savings of $360, she opened a mini shampoo factory and the first ever salon, Harper Method Shop. Clients visiting a salon was a foreign idea in the 1800’s as most women did their own hair or hired beauticians and hairstylists to do their hair in their homes.

At first, business at Harper Method Shop was slow until a music teacher moved into the same building. After noticing the number of mothers waiting to pick up their children, she invited them into her salon to get their hair done. Over the next 3 years, the Harper Method Shop became a popular place for women to visit. Her clientele included women’s rights leaders Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton, President Woodrow Wilson, President Calvin Coolidge and first lady Grace.

As the salon got busier, Martha decided to expand her business concept. Her greatest career achievement was creating a franchise system which allowed salons to operate under the Harper name. During this time, she designed the first reclining shampoo chair. In 1891, she opened a chain of salons which were owned and operated by franchisees. Martha’s goal was to help women gain financial independence and career success. The franchisees were poor women and former servants who were trained by Martha on how to run a salon using the Harper Method of beauty treatments. The Harper Method placed an importance on hygiene, nutrition and exercise. She provided franchisees with national advertising support and made inspections to ensure each salon emphasized customer service and comfort, and was consistent in branding.

Throughout Martha’s career, she expanded her empire to include 500 Harper salons and a chain of schools throughout Canada, US, Europe and South America.
In 2003, she was inducted into the national Women’s Hall of Fame. Martha Matilda Harper was both an entrepreneur and a beauty expert.

The Innovators of Beauty is a blog series that highlights leaders in the beauty industry.

 

💁 Student of the Month: Taya Tkachuk

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From balayage to “granny hair”, this lady is slaying it on Instagram! Born and raised in a small town, you may have seen her at last week’s MC Pop Up Salon  as a feature Entrepreneur/Stylist. 💇

Our Student of the Month is Hairstylist-to-be, Taya Tkachuk 👏 👏 from the Edmonton campus. “Taya is a lovely student inside and out. She is always willing to lend a helping hand and has an eagerness to learn” says Edmonton Director, Analia Rubie.

1). Why did you choose Hairstyling as a career?
“It’s always been a passion of mine. Back home in Lac La Biche, there weren’t many opportunities for me to explore hair. I was always the one my friends and family went to for hair and makeup…and it just became my thing.”

2). What do you like most about Hairstyling so far?
“Making people feel good about themselves. Once you’ve achieved this, it’s the best feeling ever and it makes you feel like you can do anything.”

3). How was the Pop Up Salon?
“It was a great experience outside of school! It helped me understand what goes on behind the scenes of a salon….I learned different techniques in blow drying…and running/managing a salon”.

4). What has surprised you the most about beauty school?
“Unit 3. I wasn’t expecting to learn about anatomy. I hate that people stereotype hair school as dumb but that’s not true. You need to know your stuff…even anatomy. All the studying and hair that you do puts a lot of stress on your body. You put so many hours into doing one clients’ hair to make them happy and studying on top of that! Its not just applying color or cutting hair…it’s much more”.

5). What do you love about MC College?
“I love the teachers and the people…it’s so welcoming here and I wasn’t expecting that when I started school! Every day is a fun day at school even if you’re in class or not.”

6). What has been the most challenging thing you’ve learned at MC College? Why?
“Clients can be a bit overwhelming…you learn how to work with people of all personalities and know when to end a conversation politely…and saying no to clients can be hard too. Especially when it comes to hair color”

7). What are your plans for the future after graduating?
“I want to stay in Edmonton for the opportunities when I graduate. But in the future, I would love to move to Toronto or Montreal, and start doing hair competitions. I want to see how far I can get with my career”

8). What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a Hairstylist?
“Make sure it’s a passion of yours and not just a job…You need passion and drive cause you can’t just do a half assed job in this. You gotta be all in.
9). What is the best advice you’ve received about the industry, beauty school or career?
“You can’t please everyone…do the best you can and work with your own knowledge.”

Follow her! 
Instagram: @Taya.Hair
Snapchat: tayatkachuk
Twitter: @tootie_19

Alumni Profile: Alicia Soulier

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Alicia graduated from the Hairstyling Program at the Saskatoon Campus in 2005. Since then, she has:

• been the lead Stylist at Saskatoon’s Fashion Week
• Won ‘Saskatchewan Salon Stylist of the Year’ at the 2014 Mirror Awards.
• Styled hair at Spring/Summer 2015 New York Fashion Week.
• Been nominated for ‘Saskatchewan/Manitoba Hairstylist of the Year’ at the Contessa Awards.

Currently, she is the owner and educator at Capelli Hair Studio, one of Saskatoon’s most prestigious salons.

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Why MC College?

Styling her Barbie dolls hair and making friends with Hairstylists was an early indicator that Alicia would start a career in the Beauty Industry. After taking Cosmetology classes in High School and receiving a scholarship, Alicia decided to accomplish her dream to become a Hairstylist. Her entrepreneurial spirit, need for hands-on education and word of mouth led Alicia to enroll and graduate from MC College Saskatoon. “MC College will teach you the fundamentals to becoming the best Hairstylist in the world…they give you a great foundation for the real world” says Alicia.

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Soon after graduating, Alicia was set on becoming a salon owner. After realizing that one of Saskatoon’s premiere neighborhoods lacked an upscale hair salon, she pounced on the opportunity and opened ‘Capelli Hair Studio’. In 2012, it placed top 5 in Contessa’s ‘Salon Interior of the Year’ award and was named as the best hair salon in Saskatoon by Fine Lifestyles magazine.

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Advice from Alumni

“Be humble. Be Passionate. Be respectful of your Mentors. Be passionate about what you do”

As an award winning superstar hairstylist, salon owner, educator and a board member of the Saskatoon Fashion and Design Festival, Alicia credits her success to her mentor, Kim Regier of Chel SalonSpa and her need for continuous learning. “Never think you know it all. Always strive for more education and inspiration” says Alicia. She is known for mentoring her staff, new Hairstylists and students so that they can become successful in their career.

Today, she continues to enter hair competitions and currently styles hair in photoshoots and fashion shows. She has done hair for Edge Agency and fashion houses such as White Dhalia House of Fashion, Hillberg and Berk, , Pyer Mossto and  Concept Korea to name a few.

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Unleash Your Inner Stylist…

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Stylist: 1). A cut above the rest. 2). Adds color to the lives of others. 3). Brings out the beauty in others. 4). Miracle Worker.

You’re probably thinking that you already know what Stylists do (haircuts, colors, perms etc) but did you know that there are plenty of career options as a Stylist? You can be a salon owner, travel the world as a platform artist, be an educator and much more!

With so many career options as a Stylist, you probably have a lot of questions: What does it take to become a Stylist? What High School classes do you have to complete? What is it like to work in the beauty industry? How long is the Hairstyling program?

Invite a MC College Expert to your cosmetology class to inspireeducate and answer your questions about the beauty industry. Watch a live make-up and hair show, enter to win a giveaway and receive a FREE swag bag!

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If you would like a MC College expert to visit your school, contact Nikki (nikki@mccollege.ca).  

Trip to Saskatoon

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Paris of the Prairies. City of the Bridges. These are just a few names to describe Saskatoon; home to over 200,000 people. As an Edmontonian and my first trip outside of Alberta (shocking, right?), Saskatoon felt like a home away from home: a big city with a small town feel.

As I arrived for my first visit to the Saskatoon MC College Campus, I was met with the sounds of excitement as students worked on clients and prepared for graduation. During the campus tour, I was able to see the hands-on training the students were receiving, as well as visit the beautiful spa area. Speaking to the graduating students, it was inspiring to hear their reasons for pursuing a career in the industry. It was also great to hear that a majority of the students had a job lined up for them after graduation. Many of those jobs were acquired through hair demonstrations held at MC College and establishing technical experience through volunteering at events such as: Sears Beauty Gala, Woman’s world, Miss Teen Saskatchewan and Fantasy Fashion Show.

As a guest at their graduation, it was amazing to see the overwhelming amount of support at graduation. I had the pleasure of meeting an inspirational and industry-passionate individual: Laddie James, Owner and Hairstylist at Hairstyle Inn. Not only is he a huge supporter of MC College students, he also awards the top student with a scholarship award, the MC2 award. At this years Fall 2013 graduation, Hairstyling student, Carley Aldous, was awarded with the MC2 award and a $500 scholarship.

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At every graduation, the Frank Cairo Award is given to the student who best represents the qualities of: Commitment, Integrity and Respect. These qualities were the basis of Frank Cairo’s success in the industry. This year, Hermien Brits from the Hairstyling program and Bailey Dash from the Esthetics program  received this prestigious award.

MC College hosts two graduation events at each campus every year. The graduation allows the graduates, their friends and families, and the faculty and industry to come together to celebrate and recognize their achievements.

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For more information about the programs at MC College:

http://www.mccollege.ca/brochure2013

To read about Frank Cairo:
http://mccollegeblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/frank-cairo-awarded-the-queen-elizabeth-ii-diamond-jubilee-medal/

To learn more about Laddie James and the Hairstyle Inn:
http://www.hairstyleinn.com/