We had the good fortune of connecting with Julia Galbate and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julia, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
When I think about risk I think about the leap of faith I made to open my own hair salon and first business when I was 21 years old. It was such a big step to leave the safety of being an employee and taking on all the risks that go into salon ownership. The financial risks of opening a business can be one of the most intimidating factors. The fear of failure discourages so many entrepreneurs that most never even attempt to start. For me I took a cautious yet responsible first step by going booth rent as a one person business in a private studio setting. Once I figured out the basics I thought I could build a successful business that offered stylists everything I always wanted as an employee. I wanted to create a space that was a safe haven for my stylists. Somewhere they felt supported, educated and a chance to have creative freedom. The other risk of being the employer is the fear of letting people down. In a small town like Fort Collins, Colorado your reputation means everything. Every business owner hopes to hire, retain their staff and attract other top quality employees. But the most challenging sacrifice as a young business owner was giving up a piece of my personal life. A business owner is never off the clock. You have to always be available to clients and employees or all the separate tasks like marketing and managing that go on behind the scenes. All these risks may sound intimidating but the reward is well worth it at the end of each day. Owning my own business has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid and I couldn’t picture my life any other way.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My name is Julia Galbate and I am a proud owner of a Fort Collins hair salon called Locks and Loaded Salon. I have grown up in Fort Collins for 20 years and I hope to never leave. I have always had a passion for all things beauty and I have always aspired to be a business owner but never knew what kind of business. When it came to graduating high school I felt lost. I felt left out because the “normal” thing to do was to go to college and I have always known I wasn’t cut out for regular schooling. My parents were the ones to push me to look into cosmetology school. They knew how much I loved hair, makeup and nails. It was the best decision I ever made. For the first time in my life I felt passionate about something. I excelled in cosmetology school. I won a scholarship based on an essay I wrote, was in multiple school clubs, won a school trip to Paul Mitchell’s biggest hair show and graduated in the honors program. After I graduated from Paul Mitchell the School Denver, I started in my very first hair salon which soon led me to jump from salon to salon. I really struggled with finding a salon that felt like home and finding my tribe of people. I either felt like I didn’t fit in or felt like I was stuck. I am not someone who just sits and lets life pass by, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. At just 21 years old I decided to make the scariest risk of my life and open my own salon suite in May of 2019. It ended up being the best leap I could have made! Right away my salon took off. I had so many new clients calling in that I ended up needing more hands on deck and had to go bigger. It felt like everyone around me knew I had finally found my calling. After just a few months we were already shopping for a bigger salon expansion. In May of 2020 we were officially able to open our new salon doors to the public after a bumpy two months of forced closure due to Covid-19. Although it was tough it taught me how to be patient and be well prepared for anything that hits us. I really think my passion and my heart is what sets me apart from others. Everyone in my life has always known how big of a heart I have. I have always loved taking care of my friends and making everyone in my life feel very appreciated. I think any of my clients could testify for how much I love everything about hair. I always make sure they know every step of the process so they feel like they are a part of the transformation. I also always put their hair integrity first so my clients trust me to take care of them. Something I am most proud of is my drive and motivation. I believe when people love what they do they excel the most. Most days it doesn’t even feel like I’m working, just spending the day with people I adore and doing what I love. The most rewarding thing about being a hair stylist is the instant gratification. There’s nothing like a first time client who walks in and is very unhappy with their hair and in just a few hours bringing someone to tears of joy from fixing their hair and bringing out the confidence they forgot they had. It’s moments like that that keeps me focused on honing my craft and striving to be my best. There are so few careers where you get to see tears of joy from your customers’ satisfaction and if that isn’t a motivating factor I don’t what is. Something I would love the world to know is the importance of trade jobs and all the amazing options other than college. I think there is a huge stereotype and a lot of pressure into going right into college after high school and many students end up racking up so much student debt. I would love to one day be a speaker at schools to talk to kids who are in the same position as I was, hopefully to demonstrate how rewarding other career paths outside of the traditional college route can be. If a student decides that college isn’t the choice for them, I’d love for them to know they can still be successful and reach their dreams if they apply themselves.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
You can’t go wrong with Old Town Fort Collins! That’s where my salon is and where I spend majority of my time. Some of my favorite spots are Old Town Putt in the exchange, Blue Agave for amazing Mexican food or Old Elk for some amazing custom cocktails.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would not be here today if it wasn’t for my family. My family has been nothing but supportive since the day I wanted to go to cosmetology school, to the day I wanted to open my own hair salon. My dad and I custom built my salon from the ground up. Having a natural born handy man as your dad makes for a great bonding story. He is now referred to as the “salon dad” as he checks up on us and comes to the rescue when we need a spider killer. Having the support from my family is something I cherish because I understand it is not something everyone gets to experience. I come from a family full of risk takers with my dad, Todd Galbate, being a local Colorado Realtor. His success story is something that drives me to this day.
Nathan Daine Tyler Paige Photography