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Meet Nina Myles of Hair Unlimited West in Simi Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nina Myles.

Nina, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I entered the beauty industry in 1982. Within 5 years, I opened my first salon at 25. After 3 years I moved to a new location. We quickly became known for being an outstanding teaching salon so we never had to look for new talent as we always had a waiting list of new professionals who wanted to join our team. We grew from a 1500 sq. ft. building to a 3000 sq. ft. building within 5 years, going from $150 thousand a year to over $1,000,000 in sales within 7 years. During that time, I was an educator for Redken teaching both product knowledge and techniques and business building skills as well.

We were a test salon for new Redken products and I sat on a professional color board for Redken working on formulating new hair colors one of which is Redken’s top selling hair color Shades EQ. We were also recognized at a large event in front of more than 5000 styling professionals for being the fastest growing and top selling Redken Elite salon in all of Southern California, out producing salons that were twice our size.

Because of our successful systems, we were able to provide medical benefits, paid vacation and paid education often flying our team to New York for training. For 4 years I also sat on the board of directors for the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce. It was an amazing experience to be so closely involved with our city businesses and government.

After 13 years I had the opportunity to join a small but promising beauty supply company. It was doing about $60 thousand in sales with one person, no employees and no warehouse selling at a grass roots level to styling professionals and offering scissor sharpening and repair services. each year we grew and at the end of the first year we were in our first small warehouse. Each year we grew into a larger facility eventually ending up with 16,000 sq. feet of warehouse and office space. By year 8 we were doing over $4,000,000 in sales annually. We had sales reps in 6 states and England. Some of our customers included large shampoo companies like Redken, American Crew, Paul Mitchell and Aveda just to name a few. We were unique being the only beauty supply owned and operated by hair dressers. I was fortunate to travel regularly. I taught on stage at all the large beauty shows like Long Beach, Birmingham, Chicago, New York, Orlando, Las Vegas and Tennessee. I also got to travel overseas teaching in England, taking a private class in Japan from a cutting master, touring our scissor manufacturing facility and enjoying the amazing history of Italy. I also enjoyed the variety of duties when running the beauty supply. From working with our in-house art department on advertising projects, writing our Scissor Information book and creating an educational video based on the book. Dealing with our customers, training staff, working with our overseas suppliers and the custom brokers to teaching on stage at the various trade shows. I opened my next salon in 2016 in a beautiful 2500 Sq. Ft. location. I have a wonderful dedicated staff and my long term goal is to help other styling professionals reach their goals. Wether it’s to grow a successful clientele or enjoy salon ownership one day. For the last 10 years I have sat on the board of directors for Ridone. A 5501C3 that provides salon services to homeless, elderly, handicap and veterans. We regularly do cut-a-thons for the Simi Valley Senior Center, Retirement communities, veterans and the Samaritan Center, Simi Valley’s homeless resource center. We just participated in the One Love Fashion show at the Landry Estate benefiting Samaritan Center and next month we are hosting haircuts and nail services for 18 young girls in foster care through James Store House. Our team continuously gives back to our community, lending a hand for those less fortunate. We also are the only salon that has an adjustable shampoo bowl that can accommodate any size wheel chair. Until now, people confined to a wheel chair couldn’t get wet services in salons. Now because of this amazing invention they can enjoy all the same services that walking clients can get. Clients come from all over to get their hair done and it has caught the attention of Dante Acosta’s office. Plans are in the works to introduce this to Sacramento for legislation. I believe I am where I am today because I have an amazing family that supports my efforts, I work hard doing what needs to be done, I’m surrounded by wonderful talented people, I’m focused, honest and love what I do.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not always been a smooth road. I was only 25 when I opened my first salon. Even though I took several business and management classes, it still doesn’t prepare you for “real life.” I learned very early on that it’s worth spending the extra money on professionals when it comes to things financial and legal. I had to buy out of my first lease because my well meaning friend helped me and didn’t see the things that were detrimental to my business. Luckily, I was able to join forces with another salon and we had a very successful run with our company. My biggest struggles were more of a personal nature though. My son was diagnosed with AHDH (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) at age 5. Living with him was like living with a tornado that never stops. He was a sweet child that meant well but was difficult to deal with. This put a strain on my marriage, especially when you have a husband who didn’t believe in mental illness or medication. I found myself having to put myself between my husband and son in order to protect my son from my husband’s rages. When my husband threw our 7 year old son across the room in a rage that was the end for me. We were divorced soon after. My son was diagnosed with early onset Bipolar Disorder at age 8. It took me 15 Psychiatrists before someone would believe a child that young could have Bipolar disorder. I spent most of my evenings online reading anything I could about symptoms and causes, medications and therapies. I was on several on line support groups as well as a group in my city. I wanted to understand this terrible diagnosis and what to do much to the irritation of my husband. He refused to go to any Dr. appointment, therapy session, med visit, IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting. We spent several thousand dollars on court because my ex-husband wouldn’t give our son his medications. Our son even had to spend 2 court ordered weeks at UCLA psychiatric hospital for observation just to find out he was being properly medicated. I was called to the school several times a week to pick up my son for disturbing the class. He was never harmful, just distracting, loud, and not able to be still or do the work. At age 12 he was diagnosed with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) I knew he had that from a small child as he had to have some of his things in a particular order before he could go to sleep. If he wasn’t allowed to do that he would be very anxious and wouldn’t sleep until he was allowed to finish his ritual. Through all that his father continued to tell him he didn’t need his meds, that I was medicating him to keep him quiet. My son didn’t live with his father and as he grew older his father saw him less and less. Even on family vacations with his new family my son was told he couldn’t go because there wasn’t enough room in the car. Just imaging my heart break for my son to be rejected over and over. He encouraged him to go off his meds as soon as he was 18 and he did just that. It’s hard enough living with someone with mental illness when you have support and simply impossible when you have opposition. Without his meds, my son grew increasingly more difficult to live with and eventually dangerous. From lighting fires in the house, to letting homeless people into our home to eventually trying to harm the dog I had to tell him to leave. That was the most heart breaking day of my life. The guilt was unbearable and I went into a terrible depression so severe I couldn’t work and barely could function.

Over a time working with a therapist and getting on medication for depression and anxiety I was able to get back on my feet and that’s when I opened my latest salon. My son is now 25, still homeless and self medicating with drugs and alcohol but he is still alive so I still pray for him and continue to have hope things will get better for him.

Hair Unlimited West – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My salon is full service offering all hair, skin and nail services. We specialize in color correction, extensions, weddings and custom hair design. We have over 40 years of experience and a strong focus on education. Our customer service is outstanding which shows in our 5-star rating. We also offer unique options for our clients such as lunch served for lunch time appointments, Beer, Wine and Blinis as well as coffee, tea, water, fresh baked goodies and popcorn. We offer classes for our clients like our Father, Daughter and Dos where we teach dads how to style their little princesses. We offer various mixer events like an evening with Dean who is a local holistic healer and life coach. We participate in many Chamber of Commerce events and donate to children’s athletic groups, PTA and the YMCA. We also have a barber/stylist that does amazing military fades as well as beautiful blow outs. We are the only salon that has an adjustable shampoo bowl that offers salon services to anyone in a wheel chair. We reward our clients by giving them $15.00 for every referral and 15% off a retail purchase of 3 or more items. We have a new client gift and we send out birthday cards to our clients. What I’m most proud of however are the comments we get from almost every new client that walks in. The first reaction is how welcoming or comfortable it “feels” in the salon. We have a reputation for being “drama free” and relaxed while still remaining very professional.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My proudest moment wasn’t something big like being recognized on stage in front of 5000 stylists or being asked to do a taped interview on our success or being asked to do a TV spot for a local channel. It was from a former stylist that I trained right out of school who said to me that she was the successful stylist she is today because of everything I had taught her. That I helped her see her business and clients in a different way. She said she has always felt grateful to have been able to work with me. And she’s not the only one that has said that over the years. I recently had a colleague of mine who worked with me many years ago tell me that in the salon she currently works in, she could tell that one of the girls had worked for me because of the integrity of her work. That was extremely humbling.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 540 E. Los Angeles Ave., Suite B
    Simi Valley, CA 93065
  • Website: hairunlimitedwest.com
  • Phone: 805-584-9415
  • Email: hairunlimitedmail@gmail.com
  • Instagram: hairunlimitedwest_salon
  • Facebook: Hairunlimitedwest
  • Twitter: @hairunlimited_
  • Yelp: Hair unlimited West

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Image Credit:
Michael King

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