Meet Natalie James: Owner and CEO of Vent Blow Dry Bar
Natalie James is a wife, mom of three, entrepreneur, creator and owner of Toronto’s most exclusive blow dry bar – Vent Blow Dry Bar. Inspired by the stories of female entrepreneurs she met, Natalie set out to take a detour and leave the security of a “good job” when she opened Vent Blow Dry Bar’s first location in Liberty Village, Toronto in July of 2017. Vent quickly gained momentum and an influx of clients as it delivered outstanding customer experience. Natalie’s dedication to making an impact through meaningful work is evident as Vent offers a space designed to save busy women time, empower them and build their confidence through a self-care experience unlike any other.
My first job was… I was thirteen when I got my first job at Lady Foot Locker. They needed my mother’s approval to hire me because I was so young. The uniform was hideous, but the experience was amazing and I learned retail at a young age.
My proudest accomplishment is… most definitely, my three kids. Growing through each stage with them has been challenging, but truly amazing. There is a quote that I love, that says “while we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”
My boldest move to date was… for sure leaving a great career at the age of 40 to start Vent Blow Dry Bar.
I came up with the name of my business… Vent Blow Dry Bar or Vent more specifically has a few meanings – When women get together we like to “vent” and air flows through vents signifying what we do best – blowouts!
I would advise anyone thinking about a career transition to… have a plan, research and ask yourself all the tough questions we don’t want to think about. Having a dream isn’t enough, you need to put in the work and be prepared to make sacrifices in other areas of your life.
My greatest advice from a mentor was… aim for progress over perfection. If you wait for everything to be perfect, you will never start and ultimately twenty percent of what you need to know you will learn by doing.
My biggest setback was… my father going missing in a boating accident when I was thirteen. This changed the direction of my life but also instilled in me a drive that I may not otherwise possess.
“Life is busy and full of appointments, we want our clients to come for an experience.”
I overcame it by… using it to push me through every difficult moment that followed. When you go through the hard thing you become stronger and more resilient. I truly believe that life doesn’t happen to you, it happens through you. I am who I am today because of the things I have gone through.
If I were to pick one thing that has helped me succeed, it would be… grit. I have always worked really hard to stay focused on my goals and persevere when faced with challenges.
I surprise people when I tell them… I don’t come from the hair industry, although I have always had a passion for all things beauty, I spent most of my career in politics and once worked as chief of staff for the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister.
I stay inspired by… surrounding myself with people who believe in my dreams and encourage and support me to stay focused. I find great inspiration in hearing the stories of others through books, podcasts and networking. The support for other women in business has been wonderful.
The future excites me because… the possibilities are endless. There is no limit to what we can achieve. Dream big and get after it!
My next step is… to grow Vent Blow Dry Bar, expand my team and identify and pursue new business opportunities.