Soon after opening her Abyssinia Hair & Beauty Clinic in Renton, Miny Tafesse knew she had the opportunity to build something exceptional.
Throwing open the doors to the local community in 2015, Tafesse received a warm response – a testament to her own welcoming approach to business.
“You come in as a customer, but you walk out as family,” Tafesse says.
“Abyssinia” refers the northern Ethiopian empire that existed through the mid-1970s, and although Taffese hails from Kenya, she wanted to honor her Ethiopian roots. Her first foray into entrepreneurship came in 2000, when she opened a salon in Kenya with just $50 and a passion for her craft.
The success of that first Abyssinia salon sowed the seed for the future. Joining family in Renton in 2013, Tafesse earned her cosmetology license to add to her already extensive expertise, and channelled her entrepreneurial spirit in her new community.
The doors opened on Abyssinia Hair & Beauty Clinic in May 2015 and business has been booming since.
Providing beauty therapy, styling sessions and a wide range of cosmetics and skin care products, Tafesse’s international training and expertise allows her salon to cater to everyone. It’s all about embracing diversity and welcoming everyone who walks through her doors, a philosophy that continues in her work with her local Renton community. An Ambassador for the Renton Chamber of Commerce, Tafesse is working to create a reach-out day, with volunteers providing treatments for the local homeless population.
That natural warmth extends to her customers – she only uses quality products, provides value-added service regardless of the value of the cut or style, a discount for new customers and a loyalty program. “Even if you come for a simple haircut, it’s a privilege to work on your hair,” she says.
Building on Tafesse’s own success, franchising opportunities are underway – a way to share her expertise both with entrepreneurial stylists, and customers who have called for an Abyssinia salon in their neighborhood.
Complementing her business acumen is a belief in working hard and passing along those values and ethics to her trainees. And then there’s her continued passion for her chosen careery. “I have been doing this for 18 years and training all over the world, and each day I learn,” she says.
Speaking to hair dressing students and other immigrants, Tafesse is inspired by their own enthusiasm and passion for their career and community.
“Living in the United States offers a huge opportunity, and hard work can pay, but if you do your part, great things happen,” she says. “When I share my story, I say, ‘Don’t start a business for the money. Go into business with integrity and because you are following your passion.’”