Young Salo Talks Shops About Life After 50 Young Nails Founder. Matriarch. General Badass.
Today we’re switching gears and talking shop with the founder and matriarch of Young Nails, Young Salo. We asked Young to give us a few nuggets of wisdom and share more about her journey as an empowered female entrepreneur and trailblazer.
A lot of people don’t know that I started my business after many years of being a devoted stay-at-home mom. I raised my two trouble makers, Gregory and Habib. They were born just a few years apart. As a baby, Gregory had to have stomach surgery. It was very scary being a new mother and new to America was really hard. Back then taking care of the family was only women’s work. I had my hands full when Habib came along. It doesn’t feel like it when you’re in the middle of all the craziness, but those years really fly by. Now when I think back on that time in my life, it’s not about the struggle. I just miss the little moments like soft baby feet and hands before they get rough from learning how to walk and play.
Age Is Just A Number.
My boys were grown up and out of the house. I remember crying for three months straight when Habib moved away, especially since he was the baby. I figured I had to keep myself busy, so I decided to start a business. I wanted to explore the next chapter of my life. It never occurred to me to think about my age as a something that should hold me back. I was 49 when I started the business. To all the mothers out there over 50 years old, you’ve got go for your dreams. It’s never too late to have to have your own career. Age is just a number.
Never Give Up.
I have always just believed in myself. I grew up with four brothers, so I was not necessarily raised like a girl. My family was very poor. Growing up in Korea during the war, kids could not go to school. I was in first grade when the war started and ten years old when it ended. So when when we were finally able to go back to school, they just like that they put me into third grade. I studied very hard and in one year, I kept moving up every six months. That first year back, I didn’t have problems keeping up. I skipped almost three grades. My father was worried that I was too skinny and wanted to take away my books. He wanted me to get healthier and not be distracted by books. I hid under a blanket and kept going. When I was 15 years old my dad died at the age of 40. I had to get a job to support my mom plus my brothers and sisters. I was able to finish junior high and high school during night school. I never went to college. I chose to never ever give up, no matter what. For me, there’s nothing too scary. I just keep thinking, I’ll get over this hurdle if I stick with it. Everyone goes through tough times.
Be Up For The Challenge.
When I graduated from high school, one of my friends took me to see the movie, “Splendor In the Grass”. It was the 1960s and starred a young Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty. It was the first I had ever seen an American movie (or anything about American life) and I loved it. I decided right then that’s where I wanted to go. I studied English day and night. Memorized it. Luckily, my boss at the Korean import/export company for liked me. They asked me if I wanted to come to America. Three months later, I landed in Los Angeles with $200. The second day after I arrived, I went straight into work. I had no problem supporting myself. It was 1970 and gas was 29 cents/ gallon. I was able to get a studio and paid $50-60 a month. I was a single and could survive on my own. I was also able to bring my family over from Korea.
There’s Always Risk.
At first, my husband Bishara was the main family breadwinner. He was a trained mechanic and ran his own shop. He was familiar with the risks involved in owning a business and he didn’t have the stomach to watch me get into a business on my own. So I never asked for permission. I never said a word. I just went for it. I was all in. The funny thing is that when he eventually retired from being a the mechanic, he came to work with us at Young Nails.
For a long time, it was very hard with so many challenges. The company always had real cash flow problems, major debts to the banks, credit card companies and suppliers. I had employees steal tens of thousands of dollars from the company. That’s a lot of money to lose. Sometimes I couldn’t pay the electricity, water or gas bills. I had to to borrow money. A lot of friends and relatives didn’t think very highly of me at the time and didn’t believe I could make it. Mostly they were scared to loan me anything. Thank god my brother and younger sister were able to support me during some of those low times in my life. Still no matter what, I just had to keep moving forward. There’s no escaping it. When you start a business, there is always risk. The only way to get through the difficult times is to keep your drive. Stick with it and become an expert (in whatever you do) so you can always have an answer. That’s what we do now at Young Nails. We are nail experts.
I always dreamed that one day I would I would own a big business. Today, it’s happened. It’s exciting. It’s fun. It’s like a giant puzzle and it’s my reality. I’m so lucky that I get to see my children every day. Together as a family, we relied on all our individual strengths to carry us through tough times. In 1992, I started something and first Greg joined me. Then a few years later in 2000, Habib joined us. It took over 20 years of hard work but we made it and built this successful international business.
“Though nothing can bring back the hour / Of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower / We will grieve not; rather find / Strength in what remains behind.” –William Wordsworth, Poet
These are the closing lines of the movie, “Splendor In the Grass”.