Tuesday, June 13, 2017

[FACES] The Thinking Hair Creator, Marcus Chin of The Soloist Salon

Fell in love with all things related to hair for more than 10 years now, his love affair has grown even stronger these days with the forming of The Soloist Hair Salon with his other two founding partners, Nicholas Chua and Eewen Yap. Marcus Chin loves cutting and colouring most now, as he feels these two elements go hand-in-hand and they are areas that give him the most satisfaction in terms of creativity. He has found his calling and confidence in the hair industry. He loves cooking and would not mind to invite you for a meal or two some day. We caught up with him recently to get to know more about this talented hairstylist and try to find out what makes him tick and what pushes him in the hairdressing business today. 

Born in 1987 and grew up in Seremban, Marcus has always been a somewhat hyperactive teenager who seemed to give teachers headaches even though he scored wonderfully in his comprehension but just could never get good grades as expected from his teachers. Seen as being relatively naughty, a troublemaker with a mix of street smart, in the eyes of the teachers and peers, he was destined for other things in life besides studying. One thing stood out though, he always loved to style his hair in a particular way and often got the attention of his friends. Naturally, Marcus thought that perhaps his interest would eventually be in hairstyling. 

It was confirmed much later through an incident in school which this young hairstylist-in-the-making was destined to walk down the path that he is now walking - when he had to help cut and fix a friend's hair which was ruined by the teacher's carefree way of cutting due to punishment. Marcus very first hair cut in his life was done in a boys' school toilet back then, as a favour for his friend to "rescue" and "salvage" his bad hair. Even then, he came to realise he still could not find his real purpose in life.

Had a handful of part time jobs which included being a salesman selling a multi-purpose cleaner product (Marcus became the company's Top 10 Salesperson within 8 months, when he was only 17 years old then), waiter, and many other odd jobs, just to earn extra money to put himself through a hairdressing course, which was about MYR5,000 back then, Marcus knew he had to work extra hard. His first job in a hair salon, with a mere salary of MYR300 was being a shampoo boy, and he had to work his way up the salon. Hoping to find better prospect in Singapore, he came back empty handed but decided to work in Johor Bahru instead. It was then he joined another salon. Marcus took 2 years to get promoted from assistant to stylist. Within the next 1 to 2 years, he joined the education team and became the branch manager for the salon at the same time. All these experiences had paved way for his current business in KL eventually. 

What does hairdressing as a profession give you?
Hairdressing gives me the satisfaction and it is a profession that allows me to be confident in what I do, it is a sense of achievement where I can perform and give my best, be it in creations or educating the younger generation. As long as I have decided to do something, I would have a certain expectation upon myself. It is like when I decided to study hairdressing, even though times were tough then and money was hard to come by, but I forged on.

Was it very different when you moved from Johor Bahru and came to Kuala Lumpur to explore hairdressing?
Most definitely. I discovered a vast difference, mainly due to the knowledge involved. Big city folks have their own way of thinking, may not easily or simply believe what a stylist tells them. That is why I believe communication is the key. To be in the hairdressing line, one needs to love to be around people.

What part of hairdressing you love the most?
I enjoy almost all aspects of it, but for me personally, finishing is important. The final look is crucial. I love the initial creating stage, right down to realising the concept.

What was your biggest lesson learnt so far?
Money earned, must always give back, knowledge learnt, must share. (In his own words, 賺到要給,學到要教). We must always be humble and have humility. You can never be number 1 forever. Don't compare, but always give your best and learn from the best.

Is hairdressing a very technical thing or is it very artistic?
If you don't have the technique, or have not mastered it, you cannot be artistic or creative. The foundation is very important. When your technique cannot catch up with your artistic mind, you cannot achieve what you have imagined. As simple as that.

Any changes personally you have noticed after starting your own salon business with your partners?
Better temperament haha. More patient, I would say, with yourself and with your team members. We must always minimise other's weaknesses and enlarge his or her strength. This is part of my personal development. 

In a business venture, how do you balance the relationship amongst the three founders?
Mutual respect. Focus on the strength, then you would be able to forego the weaknesses. Everyone is unique and has his or her own positive qualities and values to contribute to the betterment of the company. Treasure that. Mutual respect will reduce friction and misunderstanding. When you respect one another, you will go far, not only in work, but in life.

Chemistry can be developed through spending more time with each other, for instance, hanging out more outside of work and this kind of chemistry has to be maintained over time, it is not a one-off thing. I believe shared vision is critical in a company. Having the same direction and assisting each other help to push the company forward. 

What are the most fun part about your work? What's that sense of achievement?
The biggest passion or whatever that I think of, or do now, is for The Soloist Hair Salon. It is to bring the brand forward and further, to go beyond where we are now and to achieve more, be it furthering the knowledge, creating new hair concepts, expanding on the ideas, our own personal image, styling, right down to how the salon should look, how our team should behave, how then we can motivate each other or how best we can serve our clients. Anything that would let our brand name leave a mark in the hairdressing industry, we would want to be involved with. This is my main driving force now, day to day. I love what I do and I totally enjoy it.

Hilariously funny and lighthearted Marcus was all through our conversation. Smiling all the way as he believes one should always go back to the very beginning, the root or the beginning of being a human, being our own true self. He revealed that when we are a kid, we laugh a lot and this would be our purest form, our most innocent self being presented to the world. 

Did it ever come across your mind what would you have been, if not a hairstylist?
I could have been an interior designer. I have to be in the design world. I love to understand culture and style. I would like to combine these elements and create something new.

Do you think our hair industry is very advanced?
We are advance in what we do, but I personally do feel the awareness is still not far reaching. Hairdresser is being respected as a profession these days and it is far different from how it was previously. 

I heard you love to cook?
Yes I do, especially enjoy the process of it. From the get go, you need to have an idea what to cook, to begin with. Then you go shopping for ingredients, and later on the cooking itself, right down to the plating, the eating, the enjoyment of the food and cleaning up. It is a very therapeutic journey.

Marcus concluded our conversation with a lighter note on food and what gets him excited these days, when he is not cutting hair or busy running the salon with his other two capable partners (Nicholas Chua and Eewen Yap, whom we have had the chance to talk to previously). Well, one thing is for sure, they are all bounded by a shared passion for hair and vision to make the salon spread its wing even further and wider. 

We learnt a thing a two about being an entrepreneur ourselves, hard work and perseverance are some of the ingredients to making it in the industry you choose to dabble in and sharpen your skills through. Finding light minded people to walk on the path does make it more exciting after all. 

The Soloist Salon
Ansa Kuala Lumpur Hotel, Lot 1.5, Level 1, 101, Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Tel: +603.2448.9000). Opens daily from 10:30am to 08:30pm. Facebook page here and their Instagram here.

Have a lovely new week, lovelies and stay happy always *_^

With love, 
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Thanks so much for dropping by and say hi. Love to hear your thoughts and will read them all! See you again *_^

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