Thirty-year-old Amanda Nguyen has known since she was 12 that she wanted to be a hairstylist, and she also knows that sometimes it takes going through obstacles, failure, mentorship and discovering who you really are before you can live your dream to its fullest.
Nguyen has officially been doing hair for 13 years, never venturing off her chosen path, but the road wasn’t always easy.
Her first haircut for a client was “a hot mess,” as she puts it, having never cut a live model during her cosmetology education at Castleberry High School in River Oaks. Nguyen traveled from North Texas to Austin to take her Texas Cosmetology Commission board certification in 2005 and then gained experience at Great Clips, Zen Salon and Spa, Salon Eclectic and Shear Steel.
During that time, Nguyen completed a two-year apprenticeship and worked under two mentors who retaught her everything from the basics to the advanced techniques of cutting, coloring, styling and more.
With that new foundation, at 22 years old Nguyen and a friend decided to “go big or go home,” literally packing their kits and moving to San Antonio to run their own salon and spa.
The pair set out with no firm plans — and failed.
“At that time, I felt like, ‘I know everything,’” Nguyen remembers, adding that that was not the case. “Anybody can teach you anything, you just have to be open.”
At 25, she made her way back to Fort Worth and began working at a salon called Fantastic Sams. But she found that somewhere in the tumult of salon-hopping and her San Antonio experience, she lost sight of her individuality — and her goals.
“Being in a private-owned salon, to a franchise, to a corporate-owned salon — you take all that and you try to build your own individuality. But you can get lost. You have to find yourself,” Nguyen said. “I was trying to be like [my mentors], but I needed to take a step back.”
After a year and a half at Fantastic Sams, Nguyen created her first five-year plan with an end goal of being her own boss, owning her own salon. With that plan in place, she decided to enroll in Ogle Hurst to obtain her esthetician’s license.
“I still wanted to do hair,” she said. “But I wanted to know everything so I can be toe-to-toe with my employees.”
She was still working and attending education classes, hair shows and more when her plan hit a small snag – she found she was pregnant with her daughter. Deciding to take smaller steps, Nguyen began renting her current location at Galleria Salon and Spa at 2613 Weisenberger St. while continuing her styling education and slowly gathering funds.
“I’ve found that I can be by myself, work on my own and build that foundation,” Nguyen said of her time at the Galleria running her salon, BangsnBeards.
Now in her third year at the Galleria, she is ready to buy a storefront with her husband, James Nguyen, who has a background in business. The pair is acquiring a property in River Oaks — building on Nguyen’s dreams where her passion for hair started.
Back on track with her five-year plan, Nguyen says the next steps will be finalizing her purchase of the corner lot at Black Oak Lane and River Oaks Boulevard, renovating the shop to her needs, and rebranding her business from BangsnBeards to the Mane Room.
So far, her business has been primarily self-funded with a little investment from family, but as a small-business owner with a mixed Italian and Hispanic heritage, she plans to apply for Hispanic Women Business Owner grants offered through the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Nguyen and her husband aim to start in the new building by March 2019 and hope for a grand opening the following May. The renovations will help accommodate the spa setup of the Mane Room, which will feature a clubhouse, six hair stations and a nail salon area separated by barn doors.
Nguyen plans to have four chairs rented out and all her stylists, like herself, will be able to cut men’s, women’s and children’s hair. She also plans to bring on an assistant before the big move.
“I want to make the right move, slowly,” she emphasized, adding that she doesn’t need to rush into her next steps. “I have a five-year plan. I have no business cards, no flyers, all my clients are referrals and I have 450-500 clients.”
One-on-one communication with clients and tailoring of their appointment to their needs are important pillars of Nguyen’s service. She has been in her shop as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m. to accommodate clients who reach out to her and explain their circumstances.
While Nguyen says she isn’t better or set apart from other stylists, she does do some things a little differently.
“I don’t use heat [to rush a finish]. I don’t double book. I sit with them, I talk to them,” she explains. “I’m very prideful in what I do. I don’t rush through my work. I don’t set unrealistic goals for my client and I don’t turn anyone away. I accommodate my clients.”
It’s this combination of talent, work ethic and client respect that has people traveling across city and state lines for an appointment with her. She has clients from across the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Sanger, Austin, Aspen, Colorado, and more.
“From last year to this year my clientele has doubled,” Nguyen said. “People get that feeling when you’re welcomed.”
And in the next few years, Nguyen might not be the only one in her family of six to be welcoming clients into a stylist’s chair.
Her son Izeah has already taken quite an interest in hair. Not only can he style his mom’s in curls, but at just 10 years old he can style and cut a 1-fade (a popular men’s hairstyle consisting of a very short taper that “fades” into the skin). And, her 11-year-old daughter, Milian, has already done a global retouch of bleach to Nguyen’s hair.
Who knows what the future will hold for 2 1/2-year-old Gia and 6-year-old Kam, but if they’re anything like their mom, they’ll have a five-year plan to help guide them on their journey.
2613 Weisenberger St., Suite 114