Getting to know you: Tatiana Karelina

What do you currently do?
I am the Founder of Tatiana Hair Extensions, a chain of boutique salons specialising in both clip-in and micro-ring hair extensions.
I pride myself on giving every client a bespoke service which is tailored exactly to their needs.  This includes ethically sourcing the best quality hair which hasn’t been coloured or treated, in order to create as natural a look as possible.
I began the business in 2009, and we now have two salons in London and Manchester, with plans to expand our brand globally to North America in 2011.   
What is your inspiration in business?
I’m really inspired by my clients. They give me the passion to create new ideas and I love being a close part of their transformations every day, helping them to create a brand new look, and seeing the confidence it brings them.
My clients come to me for hair extensions for a variety of different reasons, and I pride myself on dealing with each and every one of them with sensitivity and care.  I am also inspired by reading how successful entrepreneurs achieved the success they have today.
To read about their own successes and failures is inspiring and really puts things in perspective for me, in terms of what I hope to achieve with my business. 
Who do you admire?
Although we are a small business, I really admire large and dynamic companies such as Starbucks and L’Oreal- they are leaders in their fields but operate ethically and with integrity. These companies pride themselves on always giving something back to the communities they operate in and devote considerable resources to ensure their employees are happy and satisfied.
It’s a great ethos to try and emulate, and we work extremely hard to give back where we can and to ensure that our employees are happy and satisfied at work. Happy employees will be loyal, take pride in their work and provide the best customer service.  
Looking back, are there things you would have done differently?
Looking back, I realise we were slow in seeing the benefits of a powerful digital strategy and didn’t fully understand how to build a brand. I can imagine that this is a common problem with many start-ups. 
When we expanded into our newest market, Manchester, we didn’t view the market as different from London and consequently used the same marketing strategy which didn’t prove as effective.   Looking back now, I’m pleased that we have had these growing pains as they have educated us and made the company stronger, so much so that we feel we are now ready for the next phase of our growth.  
What defines your way of doing business?
I think going above and beyond expectations defines how we do business. From the quality of the hair we source, to our pricing structure, to how we treat our employees, to the “extras” we give our clients; we pride ourselves on developing strong relationships and always delivering the best service possible. 
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Enjoying what you do is absolutely key- When you’re passionate about something it gives you that drive to want to make it as successful as possible.
Passion gives energy, and energy gives momentum. Although financial profit is important, it shouldn’t be the only goal, it is equally important when doing business to build good relationships, and to work with integrity.
It’s amazing how a hobby can turn into a serious business venture, so I would recommend putting all your energies and belief into your business venture, in order to make it as successful as possible.
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