For a while now I've thought about organizing a meet up of likeminded business owners I admire in Jersey City as a way for us to vent, motivate, collaborate and empower each other. With very little spare time between running my business, making my guests beautiful, playing with my pitbull and maintaining a healthy relationship with my partner Steve, I decided to start this next endeavor on a smaller scale. With November being a month we commonly reflect on what we are thankful for I present to you, Thankful Tuesday. Conversation and coffee with fellow business owners I admire, support and most importantly are thankful for.
My first guest was without a doubt going to be Kristen Scalia of Kanibal & Co. Kristen and I met a few years back when I first moved to Jersey City and became a huge fangirl of her store. Our first bonding moment was on a photoshoot for the "Jersey City Make it Yours" campaign. Yes, you can blame us and our horrible attempts to recreate a "Girl's Night Out" for all the additional overflow in our community, but as business owners you can see why we are a little thankful for that. Kristen and I immediately hit it off in between shots of us pretending to laugh, eat and drink with hired "models" who didn't live in town, pretending to live in town. I'm legit leaning trying to get her attention to make a joke about something.
When I first began the journey of starting the salon she hosted our first pop up event on NYE and I will forever be grateful for her trust and support in my vision. When she had the opportunity to expand her business, she approached me about taking over her space. I honestly couldn't ask for a better location and space for my first salon. I am so happy to not only fill the space that formerly housed a successful business but also a salon back in the 80's. This space has so much character and charm and is exactly what we needed. I will again be forever grateful for Kristen being such a huge part of making that happen.
Since then she has become a dear friend and mentor. Whether it's the small moments we have venting over customer issues, staffing, marketing or work/life balance, she is always there with a warm smile, kind soul and witty comment to turn my day around. She is a true champion for small businesses in Jersey City and I'm in constant awe over what she is able to accomplish.
I asked Kristen to meet me at Short Grain for a morning coffee so we could chat and I could tell her in person how thankful I am for her. In true hustle fashion she was already at the store before opening hours working on odds and ends up into the moment I stopped by and told her I was ready to go.
What is your name and what do you do?
My name is Kristen Scalia and I do everything! I clean toilets, move boxes, work behind the register at Kanibla & Co, customer service, staffing and everything and anything that requires my business to run.
What does being a boss mean?
Having the ability to treat people the way I've always wanting to be treated. To provide opportunity along the same line. Being a boss is holding myself accountable more than bossing people around.
What are you thankful for personally and professionally?
As a small business owner personal life and professional life are intertwined. I'm thankful I get to wake up and do what I do. Even the worst days are still the best days, no matter how overwhelmed or exhausted I get, it's all worth it. I'm thankful for my farm upstate, my garden, and the ability to grow my own food.
I'm thankful I'm able to work with other businesses, to have the ability to help other businesses thrive, showing off new products and help in their development. We are constantly hosting workshops to showcase other entrepreneurs and since day one 100% of the profit goes back to the artist. It's a huge accomplishment to think about the vendors, fellow business owners, and my own employees I am helping provide for.
What are the struggles of being a business owner?
Time management! I wish I mentally had the space to give more time; it goes by fast and it's brutal!
What are the benefits of being a business owner?
Time! It's a double edged sword! Being able to make time for what's important to me and having the ability to chose who gets my time is a huge benefit.
How do you define success?
Success is defined by what makes you happy. If I can wake up everyday and be happy, I feel successful. I'm happy I'm able to do what I do for the past 8 years, to have a home, my animals, and to afford the things I like within my means.
How do you keep balance?
I'm working on it; it takes a lot of practice and consistent work. I always ensure I get at least 8 hours of sleep everyday. I can't do what I do with a clear mind without it.
What advice do you have for hopeful business owners?
Work hard and play nice. Take one step at a time. Multiply everything by 3, your money, your time, your work.
"All ships rise with the tide together" Competition is good, but we should embrace community. Raise your standards to improve your business but you don't need to put someone else out of business in the process. I'm not saying you have to be BFFs with every owner in town but you should be better, no bitter. When we attack others it comes from a fear and insecurity within ourselves.
You can always be doing something better. There is never an end, just a beginning to something else. There is no fault in failure. We learn from our failures just as we learn from our successes. Reflect and think about where you want to go and set goals constantly.
That last tidbit of advice really hit home for me and it shows how absolutely genuine her soul is. Community over competition has always been a platform I stand behind. I've seen a huge growth in my industry since I first began this journey and it will only continue to grow along with the development in this town. I chose to never be bitter and always be better. I'm constantly inspired by other stylists that many would consider my competition. There is always something to learn and ways to grow.
And if you made it this far. I thank YOU! Now go visit Kristen and her amazing staff at Kanibal & Co
Shop local. Shop small. And don't forget #communityovercompetition