Women of Style: Gina Khan
Owner, Gina Khan Salons, San Francisco and Walnut Creek, CA
Licensed: 1973, College of San Mateo, CA
First job: Cutting apprentice at Yosh for Hair
Clients per week: 30
Price point: Color service only: $300 (25 foils with a touch up)
Why did you choose beauty? I have always loved beauty, from fixing hair and clothes on my dolls as a child, to my mother and sisters as an adolescent. Since college was not for me, I wanted to learn a trade that I could do anywhere in the world.
Milestones: Switching from cutting to coloring; purchasing the salon that I had worked at and managed for 25 years; signing on with Logics to be an educator and spokesperson.
Big break: Leland Hirsch invited me to present models at Haircolor USA. As a fledgling colorist, it gave me huge exposure.
Career advice you’ve received: Specialization. Pick one aspect of beauty and be the very best at it.
Career advice you’ve given: The same as I received: specialization! The iconic hairdressers of our time were all experts in one area.
Your mentors: Leland Hirsch, Winn Claybaugh, Annie Humphries, Yosh, Beth Minardi
You mentor: We never hire stylists or colorists from other salons, because we provide a comprehensive training program to our team.
Are there benefits to being a woman in beauty? I don't think there are 'unique' opportunities, but I do think there are huge opportunities for women in this industry. Beauty has so much diversity, from manufacturing to teaching to publishing—the list is endless.
Are there challenges for women in beauty? The only challenge is with salon guests, the ones who think that only men can do their hair. But women understand their needs so much better most of the time. In terms of business, I don't think there is inequity anymore.
Sacrifice and lesson: Probably kids. I didn’t think I could excel at both, and chose career. I learned that I didn't need children to feel fulfilled as a woman. I have no regrets, not yet anyway.
Risk and reward: Salon ownership. I wanted to take my career to another level. I needed to be able to control my environment. I sacrificed a lot of freedom to be an owner, I take my work home with me, and even though I work hard at having a personal life, it seems business always takes priority. Having said that, I LOVE what I do! I feel like I have grown professionally more in the last 12 years than in the previous 25!
What does “work/life” balance mean to you? My husband/business partner and I work hard and play hard, but our decision to expand our business and the long recession has contributed to some imbalance. Luckily we both love the industry, and we both make the effort to do some of the things that help refuel us.
To follow in your footsteps, a woman would have to: Be reliable, consistent and have a very strong work ethic.
Famous woman you would like to style? Kate Moss. I would love to give her a softer blonde color with a fresh style. Also Jennifer Aniston. Her look is so blah!
The next change to my personal style will be: Lose 10 pounds and wear slightly longer redder hair (if I have the patience to grow it out).
Reading? The Crowning Glory of Calla Lilly Ponder by Rebecca Wells. I recommend it for all hairdressers, you will laugh and cry! A fellow colorist recommended it to me.
Playlist: “Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga: “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack
Every day, just for you: I hand water my garden every morning. It is the most peaceful experience to nurture beauty of a different kind.
Working on: A deal to work in Los Angeles and NYC a few days a month to explore the celebrity market. New challenge—stay tuned!