Longtime salon owners Steven Adelstein and Sandro Vernali used their business acumen to create Believe in the Magick, a new business based on a need to live a health-conscious lifestyle. They spoke with Innovation Destination Hartford Website Curator Nan Price about their business journey and plans for the future.
NAN PRICE: You’ve owned Salon Medusa in West Hartford for 20 years and changed locations in 2015.
STEVEN ADELSTEIN: Yes, we were looking to reinvent ourselves at the time, so we moved from West Hartford Center to 35 Crossroads Plaza in Bishops Corner. The move was just what the salon needed. We opened ourselves up to new clientele and our ongoing clientele was thrilled to have access to free parking. We all know: Location is key! Also, people love not worrying about parking.
NAN: What have you learned in your experience as business owners and how are you applying that knowledge to what you are starting now?
STEVEN: Today’s society is much different than when we opened our business 20 years ago. We didn’t have social media 20 years ago. So, we didn’t have to worry about Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. This is an important part of business now—particularly the new business we’re starting. If you’re not active on social media, you’re not going anywhere.
SANDRO VERNALI: We already have a sense of business and how to run a business. As hairdressers, we have to be people people. We had to learn how to sell ourselves—and now we’re selling a product line. That’s how the two businesses work with one another.
NAN: Tell us how you came up with the idea for your new business.
STEVEN: It’s funny, we had moved to Crossroads Plaza and kind of found ourselves at a crossroads. I was dealing with some personal transitions and I needed to find alternative healing methods. I researched and tried many holistic approaches—from foods to healing stones and essential oils. Sandro came up with some ideas to combine different methods, combining healing stones with essential oils, which helped tremendously. That’s how we came up with the idea of creating our own product line.
Then we realized, if our products were helping us, they could help others, too. And we want to help other people heal. We’ve become very passionate about it. The only way for your business to work is to be passionate about what you do.
SANDRO: The other thing is, we wanted to reinvent ourselves. We’ve been in business a long time. We have clientele we love, and we recognize that people are looking for other stuff besides just hair products. They’re looking for more natural products—and they’re looking for an overall experience.
NAN: That’s true, so you know there’s a market for this.
STEVEN: Yes. There is a huge market for these types of products. A little background: Beauty and hair care are both multi-billion-dollar industries. Our original idea was to make a shampoo and conditioner line with healing stones. That idea isn’t entirely off the table, it just requires more money and time. We realized we needed to find easier products to start with.
We didn’t come up with our entire product line right away; we came up with one idea. And after one, we came up with another. And the ideas kept coming. Now we’re selling candles, handmade soaps, bath bombs. What’s amazing is, the wellness industry is valued at more than $4 trillion, so we know there’s a market for what we’re doing.
SANDRO: We did a lot of research to see what worked and what didn’t work and what people like. We’ve also done research on how start selling our products.
NAN: Sandro, as the creative developer, how have you learned to create all these products?
SANDRO VERNALI: It’s a lot of research and a little of our own...magic per se. It’s basically trial and error. We’ve also taken some product development classes.
NAN: Let’s talk about marketing. You have a great venue to display your products in your salon. How else are you building clientele?
SANDRO: We’ve joined a holistic organization that gets us in front of a whole other audience. Once we joined, we started doing vending, which helps us get our names and products out in front of people. We’re getting to know more about the community. We’re meeting different people who do different things who give us ideas, and then we kind of make those ideas our own.
We also became friends with a vendor who has an online subscription box business. We’ve formed a collaboration and they’re featuring one of our products in their box based on the theme for each month.
NAN: Are you looking to sell in other venues?
STEVEN: It’s a possibility. We would be willing to sell some of our items at the right shops. We’re also pushing our online shop, so once people are interested in the products they can continue to shop at our online store. My end goal, though, is to have several storefronts across the country.
NAN: Final question. You’re standing online at the supermarket and someone asks you what you do. What’s your answer?
STEVEN: I tell them: We make wellness products that make people happy.
Learn more about Believe in the Magick
Find out more about Salon Medusa Hair