Owner, Gina Khan Salons in San Francisco
Logics International Color Spokesperson
When Gina Khan graduated from cosmetology school in 1973 and joined Yosh for Hair on San Francisco’s Maiden Lane, her intention was to become the best hair cutter she could, but newfound passions quickly led her in other directions. While Khan quickly attained the designation of Master Stylist, her strong leadership skills emerged, and she was appointed as the salon’s manager. Then in 1986, she decided to pursue her interest in haircolor and joined Matrix's Logics team as an educator. In 1999, Khan and her husband purchased the salon from Yosh Toya, and four years ago, they opened a second salon, rebranding both under her name. As an educator, Gina Khan's approach is real-world and no-nonsense—she prides herself on presenting actual salon situations and client case studies from her own experience. “I have the same challenges as everyone in my classes, so I give advice that has worked for me.”
From where does your entrepreneurial drive originate?
I have this need for relevance in the world and doing something that’s relevant. I want to be successful, which I do not define financially, but by doing things well and making a difference to people. I wanting to be the best—I was raised that way.
As you grew your company/brand, what “ah-ha” moments of clarity helped you shape its future course?
When I was young I was managing the salon before I purchased it. When I took over as manager, I didn’t know anything about managing and I didn’t want to just bark orders. So I picked up the Tom Peters book In Search of Excellence. That book shaped how I thought about management. It was written in the 1980s but gives a lot of insight and is still relevant. One of the things I took away from it was about how important it is to get clients involved in decision making. Yes, it’s about the client. Often we are defined by our vision, but we need to try to marry that with the clients’ needs. We are client-driven—or should be. It was a very insightful moment.
I also learned about developing talent from within. In those days, many people hired outside managers. This book talked about developing your own team and giving them the opportunity to grow within your company. That’s why I have staff who’ve been with me 15-20 years. Our old staff meetings used to be about all the problems—I decided it had to change when I took over and I made staff meetings positive.
How would you describe your management style? What do you think makes you a good leader, and in what areas would you to improve?