How One Toronto Salon Owner Stays a Cut Above the Competition
After starting her professional career as a teacher, Maria Palumbo knew that being in a classroom was not her true calling. Instead, she wanted to learn the art of hairstyling and spend her days inspiring people to feel their very best. Today, that’s exactly what Maria is doing as the owner and head stylist at Specchio Hair in Toronto’s east end.
“I love what I do because it gives me a creative outlet,” says Maria. “I love doing creative things, that’s just my personality. It’s also highly social…and it allows me to meet a variety of different people and really enjoy those kinds of relationships that you build over the years.”
Maria has been building relationships for two decades now. During that time, she has attracted a large, loyal clientele of women and men ranging from approximately 35 to 60 years of age.
“They are a mix of types – from corporate to housewives and stay-at-home moms,” Maria explains. “I really enjoy the variety that my job brings to me. I really like the technical aspects of my job too – which includes colouring, cutting, foiling and men’s barbering.”
One client, a passionate Blue Jays fan, even had Maria carve the team’s logo into the back of his hair during the 2016 playoff run!
Maria has built her business primarily by word of mouth, although it hasn’t hurt that Specchio has been profiled by Toronto Fashion Magazine as a top stylist salon and Maria herself has appeared on City TV’s Breakfast Television, both of which have helped bring customers in the door.
Once in the chair, Maria works magic on her clients, not only with her hands, but also with her knowledge of the latest trends in beauty and hair products. At the end of the day however, the award-winning stylist clearly understands that, first and foremost, she is running a business.
To keep things operating smoothly, Maria is one of a growing number of entrepreneurs who depend on Dream Payments, which provides small businesses with a simple way to accept both debit and credit cards while keeping track of sales and inventory too. She says she was attracted to Dream Payments for many reasons, including its affordability, ease of use and convenience.
“I switched over from one of the larger [payment processing] companies,” explains Maria. “I turned to Dream Payments because it has no overhead fees, which were too much for my small business. I like that I can go on vacation as an independent operator and know that I’m not being charged on the point-of-sale (POS) side. I can also check my account and use it when I’m not at work. These kinds of flexible lifestyle things are really important to me.”
Dream Payments is also important to Maria’s clients, who increasingly depend on their cards to pay for services and products.
“People don’t want the hassle of carrying cash or writing a cheque,” she explains. “You’re just living in yesterday if that is the way you are operating your small business.”
And, Maria says, Dream Payments has also provided her with both credibility and respect.
“We’re living in a society where everything is branded. People love Starbucks. People love stores that are branded, that they know, that are reliable. To have something that really backs you up on the credibility side is really important…and anything that makes you look cutting edge to the customer gives you that extra level of respect. When people use my Dream Payments terminal they’ll look at it and say, ‘This is so cool!’ Anything that makes you look current with your customer rates you higher. I would say it’s almost like an extra little marketing tool.”