Photos by Rose Lincoln for the Boston Globe
As manager of the Sola Salon Studios franchise locations in Needham, Natick, and Reading, Pramod Yadav leases high-end, move-in ready studios designed for hair stylists, aestheticians, eyebrow artists, barbers, nail techs, and other cosmetologists.
Above all, he said he helps hard-working professionals’ dreams of running their own business come true, without the upfront costs and risks of opening their own salon.
“When I’m giving tours, people get so excited because they’ve been waiting for a concept like this,” said Yadav, whose father-in-law, Adam Heard of Concord, N.H., owns the co-work locations with Larry Oppenheimer of Watertown. “[Tenants] are always telling me it’s the best thing that ever happened to them. It’s the best thing that happened to me, too. I love what I do.”
Those sentiments are echoed by Daniel Ekine, who now counts Yadav among his clients. Ekine, who operates Dovestyles out of Studio 4 in Needham, doesn’t hold back when asked about his transition from the traditional salon where he worked for four years.
“Sola changed my life,” said Ekine, a native of Nigeria who earned an electrical engineering degree as a scholarship student in Malaysia. Persecuted in both countries due to his sexual orientation, he fled to the United States after graduating in 2011 and was granted asylum in 2013.
Free to pursue the love of hairstyling that he said society in his homeland forbids for men, he went to Empire Beauty School in Boston and also earned a certificate from Columbia Business School in New York. In addition, he has self-published more than a dozen books, including “Gay, Black, African, GenderQueer, and Proud” in 2012.
Although he deliberated over the decision for a year, Ekine said he has never looked back since opening Dovestyles in June.
“I was working so hard at my old job, but I was undervalued and unappreciated and I couldn’t grow or give my guests my best. At Sola, I can have control, create beautiful work in a space that I’ve made my own, and do all the things people told me were unrealistic because they couldn’t see the big picture,” he said. “In my own space, I can be the artist I want to be. I can be me.”
Yadav said that sense of entrepreneurship and pride of ownership are precisely what he intends for all his tenants. He had this to say:
Q. What are the benefits of co-work space?
A. Tenants have 24-hour access to their secure studio, so they can work anytime and without any charges except for rent. Studios come with one or two styling chairs, shampoo bowls, lighted mirrors, and custom cabinetry, with utilities and Wi-Fi included. There’s a common room with a refrigerator, microwave, and laundry facilities, and a live streaming camera in the hallway so you can see if your client walks by. Maintenance is taken care of, so all you need to do is focus on your business.
Q. How many studios do you manage?
A. The Reading location opened in February 2015 with 34 studios. Needham, which opened this past April, has 27 studios. We’re going bigger in Natick with 38 studios. Construction will be done this winter.
Q: What are the studio options?
A. A regular studio is 10 feet by 12 feet, for $350 weekly; the medium is 12 feet by 14 feet for $525 weekly; and the double is 14 feet by 16 feet for $700 weekly. I talk to [prospective tenants] and make sure they can make it before they sign on. I’m not just here to collect rent; I want them to grow their business because if they make money, we make money. We also market them on Facebook and Instagram, which helps us both.
Q. What is your advice for a prospective tenant who may be nervous?
A. In the beginning, many feel a little stressed because it’s a big step. I hear all their complaints, all the drama, and how they can’t take it anymore at the place they work. We offer so much support that I tell them, “Take the jump. You’ll have no option but to swim.”
Q. What is your goal for the business?
A. We want to grow to more locations and help other stylists. Until you take the first step, you won’t know what you’re capable of achieving.
For more information, visit solasalonstudios.com.
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