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An Interview with Natasha Ickes-Saman, Salon Owner and Life Coach

Natasha Ickes-Saman is a salon owner, life coach and motivational speaker. She is a 2x best-selling author and has been featured in multiple publications from MunaLuchi Bridal to the LA Tribune and Hudson Weekly. Outside of the salon and coaching, she regularly provides free haircuts in homeless shelters throughout the Bay Area. She currently resides in Oakland, CA with her husband and 3 children.

Tell me about yourself and what motivated you to start blogging or your business?

As a child I dealt with abandonment and low self-esteem. At 9, I came close to my first suicide attempt. By 17, I was hospitalized after swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills in an attempt to take my own life. The following years were spent homeless in Oakland, CA. By 21, I had enough. I was determined to turn my life around. I thought: what do I like, what am I good at and what will pay me well? That led me to a life of hairstyling and opening my own salon (Shear Passion) at the age of 25. I spent the following decade doing hair in the salon, giving back with free services in local homeless shelters and just being grateful for life.

Then Covid happened and I was forced to sit down. It was a blessing because it gave me time to reanalyze my life. I decided to take a leap of faith and write a memoir, something I have wanted to do for years. To my amazement, it went on to become a best seller and led to speaking engagements as well as the launch of my private coaching practice, Manifesting Miracles.

After wasting years of my life as a young adult, I am on a mission to live a life of purpose, passion and faith. It has been the greatest honor to assist other women along that same journey.

1. What do you find most challenging about blogging or running your business?

The most difficult aspect of running my own business is taking time for myself and avoiding burnout. I am passionate about what I do and ignored self-care for years. I used to regularly work 14-hour days. Eventually my body started to rebel and I was forced to slow down. I now do my best to maintain balance. Whether it is a monthly massage or a long bath in the evenings, my self-care is now a priority and not just an option.

2. Describe your experiences with some of the people you’ve met while blogging or doing business?

It is my connection with people that has motivated me all these years through the ups and downs of business. Within the hair salon, I have met a variety of folks. I have met everyone from professional models, to an ESPN T.V. host, to countless people in the homeless shelters I volunteer at monthly. I am always amazed at the phenomenal people I meet.

When I go to a book signing, interact with a coaching client or speak on a stage, I am constantly blown away by the responses I get. I’ve had women pull me to the side, sharing that they were on the verge of suicide but that hearing me gave them hope. I received emails from a lady in South Africa telling me how much my book touched her. It is in these moments, with these people, that I am reminded I am on the right path.

3. What networking do you do that helps your blogging or business?

For me the most effective form of marketing has always been word of mouth. By creating relationships with clients and providing impeccable service, I am blessed to be booked out months in my salon. When I am coaching a client who is starting a new business, I always remind them to start with their immediate circle and work outwards. Even if your close friends and family can’t directly benefit from your services, they will know someone who can. It doesn’t lead to overnight success; however, it is a sustainable way to build a clientele.

In this day and age we can’t forget online marketing as well. Instagram is a great way to connect with clients and other professionals in your industry, plus it’s a great place to showcase your work. Yelp is another good resource to get clients. Great reviews build immediate credibility and trust in your brand.

4. How do you come up with material/content for your business or blog and keep ideas fresh?

I am in love with continuing education. For the salon and my coaching business, I go to classes to stay up to date on the latest tools and techniques. When it comes to writing and speaking, I use a different strategy. I often combine current events with my own experiences. It allows me to share something relevant, that I may have a unique perspective on. For example, I recently wrote an article which is slated to come out on Cosmopolitan next month, entitled Marriage & Covid: Can Your Relationship Survive Another Lockdown? I shared my perspective on what it takes to come out stronger as an individual and as a couple.

5. What’s your strategy with your blog or business in general?

My strategy is to work hard, laser focus on specific goals and always combine skill with impeccable customer service. Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Skill, products and services are only one half of the equation. It is just as important to show up with integrity, grace, kindness and love in every interaction. Remember, people don’t spend money with anyone they don’t like. You can be the best at what you do but if your attitude isn’t right you won’t have a successful business.

6. What’s the best thing a blogger can give to his readers or a business can give its customers?

The best thing a business, writer, author or speaker can give is value. In whatever you do, your audience or clients want value. By showing up authentically and with tangible tools and information, your audience walks away better than when they met you. Whether you are teaching a new skill, offering a fresh perspective or providing a fabulous service, time is limited and we all want to receive value out of our interactions.

7. What are some tips for people interesting in making money from blogging?

I went from a homeless teenager to making 6 figures by 25. My biggest tip is laser focus and don’t give up. Overnight success is a façade. The people who are successful put in the work. Create a plan and follow it. If you want to fast track your success hire a mentor who has been where you are going. That’s what I have done in both the businesses I started and it saved me years of time.

8. What has been your strategy for creating visibility to yourself and / or your blog?

Networking has been essential. I have been a guest on podcasts, YouTube shows and live radio shows. I’ve submitted articles to countless publications in an effort to get my name out there. I’ve spoken at virtual summits and a variety of events. My strategy is to go for every opportunity I see, and it has landed me more success than I ever could have imagined.

9. What was the most challenging moment in your blog content development process or starting your business and why?

My most challenging moments were those of self-doubt. Ups and downs are an unavoidable part of life. I was at my lowest when I lost sight of the bigger picture and focused on the issue instead of the lesson. Thankfully I learned a long time ago that the trial doesn’t matter, your perspective is what dictates your success.

I remember when I first opened my salon. I poured all my savings into it. I had already paid my contractor in full. He ran off with my money and without completing my services. Among other things, I was stuck with a water heater meant for a bathroom, not a full-service salon. Every day, after a few shampoos, my water was running cold. One day, with my grandmother in my chair, I broke into tears. She looked at me, told me how proud she was of me for launching a business with zero credit cards, debt or help from family- then she offered to pay to replace the heater. I thanked God and my grandmother for their support. I was reminded that there is always a way, we just have to have faith.

10. If someone was interested in blogging or starting a new business, what would be a few things you would suggest?

The most important thing is to make sure it is something you are passionate about. Is it your calling? Your soul's purpose? Everything else is a waste of time. If it is, do the research, hire a mentor and get to work. It will be a phenomenal journey, so learn to enjoy the ride.

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