One  of the questions I get asked regularly is

“how did you come with your business?”  and people are genuinely interested to know. This is so gratifying for me as many of them say they too want to start their business but do not know how?  As most motivational speakers will tell you, start where you are with what you have–the rest will work itself out.

I would like to tell you that I had $50k in the bank

or I mortgaged my house but my start was far from glamorous.   I was new to Canada and had very little as most new immigrants. Childcare had eaten a road in my savings and I got here just in time for the hi-tech meltdown.  Couple that with the fact that with an administrative background and no command of french in Ottawa, full-time employment evaded me.  


To counter the requests for “Canadian experience”, I decided to do a course and ended up

becoming a Dental Assistant.  This did not help as the work calls were for days and not 40 hour weeks as expected. My neighbour was pregnant and asked if I would take over her part-time job as an Assistant in a small hair salon while she was on maternity leave.   I took the offer and found I enjoyed it immensely. Here was something I could learn to be good at and I could work for myself if I chose to! 

 It wasn’t until years later that I recalled passing Dornid’s School of Beauty Culture on my way to high school every day. I remember wishing I could go in there; wondering what it would be like to be curling people’s hair and doing high fashion–you do get what you ask for in life!  I could not have acted on it then because I had earned a place in one of the best schools and my parents would have murdered me for giving that up.


The rest as they say is history!  I signed up for the

Apprenticeship Programme at Algonquin College and I landed a full-time Assistant position downtown in the Byward Market.  From this position I went on to become a Stylist working on commission and eventually opening at my present location. I did not qualify for a bank loan, I borrowed the 1st and last months’ rent and cashed in shares gained when my insurance company was absorbed to repay it.  I had no idea what was going to happen, but sometimes you just have to trust yourself and you too will be able to share “how did you come up with your business” with others.

By Paula Barker, Silkie Locks Hair Design

Buy my e-book:  Dreadlocks: A Hairstylist’s Manifest,(


Call (613) 789-2179 For An Appointment If You Are In The Ottawa, Ontario Area.