When Neal Farinah emigrated from his native country Trinidad to the United States, he had a dream. A dream of building his own successful business. And today, he has one of the most popular salons in Brooklyn, New York, the Neal Farinah Salon, and he himself is one of the industry’s most respected and sought after hairstylists. When Beyonce wants a special hairstyle, Farinah is the one she calls.
But as like other entrepreneurs, Farinah had his struggles. “I would say my biggest obstacle would be listening to people saying that I can't do it. I would say that I've overcome them by listening to myself and trusting myself and having faith that I could do it,” he says, adding advice for other business owners. “You can have success by being strong, knowing what you want and having a great team around you. To have a strong team, you have to be a strong leader, and your team members have to trust you and will allow you to lead them in the right direction.”
Of course, talent is necessary. Farinah prepared himself with extensive classroom and hands-on training. He worked in a few hair salons and acquired an extensive clientele. Through word of mouth, he developed a solid customer base and his reputation grew as an exceptional stylist. For Farinah, however, it isn´t merely about making women beautiful on the outside. It´s also about giving them inner confidence.
“Most people don't know that I'm not just about doing hair and owning my salon. I am about empowering women. I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn´t for my strong women role models. This year I would love to work on mentoring more people and helping educate them,” he explains. Farinah says he also believes in sharing his success. “I am also working on a product line and my own hair line. I would love the opportunity to empower people and women that I love and I believe in and bringing them onto those projects,” he says. “I'm not bashing men of course but women sometimes must work harder and I appreciate all the women that have had such a positive influence on me.”
Farinah's ability and his attitude has attracted such famous names such as singer Kelly Rowland, Keri Hilson, Mya, Danity Kane, Solange, Michelle Williams, and Beyonce. His work has also been featured in Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” video, Giorgio Armani’s “Diamonds” fragrance advertisement, American Express commercial, and in Marie Claire and Elle magazines.
And while many of his clientele are famous, Farinah says he treats each customer the same. “In my personal opinion, celebrities are like every other person. You must always put your best foot forward and do your best work and produce a great product,” he points out. “If you put out great work and are a strong leader, people will see that. With celebrities I do my best job to the best of my ability. I've been working with most of my celebrity clients for years. They know every time I work on them, they will get my absolute best work. It's important to never short-change anyone, doing your best will always benefit all parties at the end of the day.”
Farinah is looking ahead—while staying put. “My salon is located in Brooklyn. When I created it, it was important to me that I brought a SoHo and 5th Avenue vibe to Brooklyn,” he explains. “I work with some of the most talented stylists in the industry and am committed to creating a comforting experience and a great atmosphere. I would say my long term goal is to get global/worldwide recognition for my salon.”