My name is Paulina Truong. My sister, Sam, and I are cofounders and co-owners of Blue Gemini Hair Studio.
I was raised in Vietnam by my Grandparents and Sam was raised here by my parents. I went to High School in Edmonton, and after graduation I went to Marvel College. At this early stage in my life, my first choice of study was commerce, particularly accounting interested me; but I wasn’t sure. I decided to take hair for fun. I learned two main things during this course, 1. I didn’t like doing hair as much as I thought I might, and 2. There was some utility to having this skill; (My dad was the only person that was working and my mom wasn’t well enough to hold a full time job.) I needed to make money to help my parents pay for the expenses at home, and doing hair allowed me to do that. My 2 brothers and sister were still in school at the time.
I didn’t enjoy doing hair much back then, but I have always had great passion for theatre. When I was living with my grandparents, every Sunday afternoon, my grandmother took me to a Broadway show. I still remember how much I loved the hair, make up, costumes and stage setting.
My Grandmother took me out of school when I was about 10 or 11 years old. Instead she put me into learning how to make cakes and decorating them. I also learned how to make jewelry. I used to know how to look at diamonds, and make rings and necklaces. I am very good with my hands. And most of what I know, I taught myself. Since I still didn’t have a clear idea in mind about what I wanted to study, and since I knew I was good with my hands and could do well with hair, I started to study model faces. I looked at their face shape, facial bones, eyes, nose, lips, etc. I took floral designs to learn about shapes, forms and colors. In fact, I am still a licensed florist!
Still wanting to further my passion for design, I would sit in front of my computer and look at runway fashion. I looked at model’s silhouettes, textures, colors… I then went to show homes to learn how they were designed and decorated. I went so much that I used to be able to appraise houses. I then switched to automobiles. I found my passion ignited only when I looked at European and Japanese vehicles. In all of this I saw things – beautiful and stylish things; these were things that didn’t come easily to me or our family. We worked hard for everything we had. At that point, things that were precious, shiny and even beautiful seemed far from my grasp.
I persevered in my world as a hair stylist, but my career took an entirely different direction when I entered L’Oréal Professionnel Color Trophy in Montreal 13 years ago. I made it to the final. I still remember that day: My sister was my model. She is only 5’2″ and was 29 years old – not what was expected to model my fashion talent – yet, I did very well and came in 6th place overall. I tried again the year after that. I found a model who was 5’9″ tall, and this time made it again to the top 10.
It is very expensive to compete. I had to pay for our flights, all of the expenses and didn’t have a lot of money so my sister and I started to make our model’s outfit by hand. I came in 2nd place the following year (I was very close to 1st place, just half a point lower, a difference attributable to costume choice alone). Despite this, I was very happy with the result and proud of myself for having come so far, and overcome so much adversity. I then went to work in a small salon because I wanted to continue to work with L’Oréal Professionnel hair products and learn how to operate a small business. I worked there for 3 years. I worked really hard saved money and in December 2008, Sam and I opened Blue Gemini Hair Studio.
At this point in my life, I love doing hair. I strongly believe in education and working with the best hair care products. Instead of going on holidays, I typically spent my time off and money on education in my field. I have travelled the world for this purpose, e.g. USA, Paris, London, Spain, and Italy and of course locally, here in Edmonton. Most people don’t know that education for people in my line of work is very costly- but I knew that to achieve the standard I wanted, it was worth the thousands of dollars I would have to invest.
My “model” sister Samantha, meanwhile, was working managing what they call a high risk company where her clients are big brokers. Her job was to manage million dollar accounts. Now she manages the business of hair! A radical change to say the least! I am so fortunate to have her. She is an amazing and gifted person. She helps me so much with the business and supports my creative needs. She has always told me that if I was not her sister, she wouldn’t have left her job, the one that she worked so hard for. I really needed her to help me: I couldn’t have opened this business without her. I can proudly say that we are the Dream Team. I focus on training staff and she manages them.
Our vision is to build a successful business where the focus is on providing excellent service. Our staff will become experts in colouring and cutting hair. We will not only service our clients but also educate them with the best home care products that we strongly believe will be the secret ingredients to have healthy, shiny, beautiful hair. After 4 years since Blue Gemini opened, we decided to re-build ourselves to progress this vision. We made huge changes by starting with only hiring apprentices. Of course, there are exceptions. We found this approach to be tremendously successful. Each staff member has to go through 3 different interviews before they get hired.
They then will have to complete the 10 cycles of training before they graduate and begin taking clients. We provide education on a daily, weekly and monthly basis depending on their skills and level of learning. When our clients come to Blue Gemini they will notice that we are working together as a team and our focus is on servicing our guests to the best of our potential.
We also believe in supporting local businesses. As a small business owner, Sam and I understand how tough it can be. Wherever possible we hire local, use local trades and get involved in community events.
We also strongly believe in giving back to that community that supports us. We’ve embarked on various fundraisers, donated our salaries for certain time periods, donated products and our time in support of a wide range of deserving causes: from Ronald McDonald House to re-building Fort McMurray.
My next adventure is a hair competition in London (2016). This is one of the biggest and most popular shows in the world and what is more special about this is that it is to support Leukemia research! It will be held at the Royal Albert Hall on October the 16th. I am so thrilled to be the only Canadian chosen to participate in the competition. Keeping my skills sharp is paramount – I was honored to have won the HFC competition in Paris two years ago, but I can’t be caught resting on my laurels! To demand the finest of my staff, I have to demonstrate that I demand the same of myself. I continue to put myself “out there” and “up there.” The continual drive to put myself out of my comfort zone was instilled in me at a very early age.
I still look for beauty in everything I see and am cherishing every moment of this wonderful life!
At Blue Gemini Hair Studio, we believe in providing exceptional service and giving our guests a memorable experience every time they come in. We promise to always be consistent in delivering high level performance. We stand behind our excellent service and educate our guests on how important it is to have the right products and tools to replicate their hairstyles at home. We always continue to improve ourselves and we maintain a positive attitude as we work hard and have fun. We are the trendsetters in the city—people know of us because of the continuous education that we provide for our staff.
Everyone working at Blue Gemini always gives it their best. They are confident, compassionate, and diligent. They’re inspired and wish to inspire. They take the initiative to go farther in their work: who go the extra mile to make a difference in the workplace, who challenges themselves, who strive for excellence. All of them are dreamers, motivators, and risk takers. They can handle criticism, yet maintain a positive attitude. When faced with a struggle, they think, “Yes I can,” push through, and never give up. They are people who love life and have fun even while working. They take pride in their work and always dress for success. Our team are experts in Hair, who educates and sells products to at least 75% of their guests, and is in at least the top 10 or the 1%. They are people who believe in the Blue Gemini Organization as a whole and believe in themselves.
Our guests are very appreciative and supportive towards us. They will always buy products from us to support our education, our team and our salon. They are kind, generous, and loving people.
Blue Gemini Organisation believes in building people. We believe in strong teamwork is the foundation of a successful business. We find unique, creative, talented individuals, and we coach them, mentor them, to excel and succeed. Together we share our values, celebrate our success, bless our good fortune and good health, and continue to create great works and serve our guests to the best of our potential.