We had the good fortune of connecting with Meagan Friel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Meagan, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
That’s the thing about risk, you just do it. For me, there wasn’t much thought process about opening up my own business. In some people’s eyes, that’s not a smart move. I remember sitting in my car crying during my lunch break one day, and that’s when I knew something had to change. My biggest challenge was figuring out, “What am I going to do next with my life?” I had the pleasure of working at a corporate chain as an Elite stylist for almost 6 years. I was hungry for more. I wanted more freedom and I wanted to do something kind of scary to see if I could survive. I chose to open up my business, Wild Heart Salon, because I needed to challenge myself. I needed to push myself to see the other side. Growing up, the meaning of my life felt like i was constantly being challenged, I had to grow up at a very young age in order to survive. I needed to step up and almost be my own parent. Being the daughter of a single father taught me that if you want something, you have to work for it. I didn’t get things handed to me, my dad is the reason i’m the person I am today. Risk at this point is my middle name, most of the time, I don’t think about the long term affects of my actions. I just shoot my shot and say to myself “everything happens fr a reason.” Going forward with Wild Heart Salon, this is just the beginning. I have so many ideas. The Monica Geller in me (How can I not make a Friends reference?) strives to be better than i was yesterday. No one in the universe motivates me. I don’t have role models, nor do I have people I really look up to other than myself. Taking the risk of making more of me and my business during a pandemic is going to be highlight of my life, when I get to sit down with my future children and tell them that their mother is a little crazy, but she followed her dreams of becoming a business woman.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I remember walking to lunch, it was my junior year of high school. My friend at the time asked me if I wanted to go to cosmetology school as an elective. I said yes, only thinking that sounds fun and I wouldn’t have to spend majority of my day at high school. I started the Esthetics program at Colorado’s Finest Cosmetology Academy, and worked full time as a server. Once completed, I took my boards and then decided to enroll in the full cosmetology course. As a senior in high school, while still serving and doing facials, I completed 1800 hours and got licensed. I became dual licensed with a high school diploma by the age of 19. Nothing in my life has been easy, so completing both esthetics and cosmetology was just another challenge that I was ready to face. It’s scary going to work in the beginning of your career and hoping you don’t mess someones hair up. Majority of what i know is from being behind the chair and actually doing hair. I remember coming to work and seeing the company’s most successful stylist, always fully booked, and thinking “that’s going to be me.” The company I was at for almost 6 years had a level system for you to grow and promote as a stylist, and within only 4 years of me doing hair, I promoted 5 levels, till I was the only Elite stylist at my location. Many days I worked 10-12 hour shifts, most days I didn’t get lunch. I cried coming home because my body hurt so bad form being on my feet all day. None of that mattered to me because everyday, people sat in my chair and let me create a masterpiece, and they got to leave feeling beautiful and confident. The feeling of making people feel more of themselves, confident, or just knowing that i’m always here to listen is the best reward. Pushing myself to make others feel better about themselves is what I wanna be known for. Through people telling me i’m never going to be successful, or too young, I chose to make something of myself and push myself far out of my comfort zone. This is for the people who told me being a hairstylist doesn’t make enough money, or that I can’t support a family doing this. This is for the people who told me that being a hairstylist isn’t a real job and I just play with hair all day. I started doing hair when i was 19, And I opened up my business when i was 23 years old. Now, at 24 i’m making a life for myself. I’m proud of my accomplishments, and proud that I can say i’m a stylist in Denver. The one thing that keeps me pushing harder and harder everyday is “It could always be worse.” I chose to rise from some really bad experiences in my childhood, and now I’m a business owner! Somewhere, someone has it harder, so I’m thankful to be where I am today. I will never stop being the best me.
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.
Denver is a beautiful city, I’m a native, so growing up i’ve gotten to see so much of Colorado. Red Rocks has to be one of my favorite places. Just to hike around and see some beautiful views, or for a concert. Pikes Peak has to be one of my favorite scenic drives as well. Driving all the way to the top is a little scary but worth it! The gift shop at the top has the best donuts ,and they’re the only place that makes them because the elevation there is so high. There are so many good places to eat in Denver. I can’t believe I’m giving away some of my favorite food spots but they’re so good, you need to go! Breakfast/Brunch is my favorite meal of the day. Luciles Creole Cafe is HANDS DOWN the best in my opinion. Biscuits and gravy is my jam, and they make the best! Their bloody Mary’s are delicious too. Anywhere off Broadway has amazing food. Santiago’s is a low-key place to go, i love their Mexican food. Great Britain’s Fish and Chips is the best in town for fish and chips. If you like greek food, Little Jerusalem is the DU area is worth the wait. they have a really small dinning area, but trust me when I tell you to wait in line to eat their food, you won’t regret it. Angleos in Denver is my favorite for Italian food. My last favorite stop for a casual yet nice dinner is the Humboldt. The highlands is a great area to hangout, it has a lot of bars and breweries. A good spot to check out is the Beer Grass Garden.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people who have helped shape me into the woman I am. Everyone deserves some credit because I am way too much to handle. Andrea Torres is the first woman to come to mind. She hired me on straight out of school and taught me everything I know. She was one of the only people who gave me a chance to make something of myself. Jennifer Stephens, gave me courage and a back bone. She was a realistic coach when it came to goals. If i wanted to fly to the moon, she’d say “Okay so how are you going to do that?” and really made me think and plan out my thoughts. The love of my life, Chandler De Benedictis, who grounded me enough to make sure what I was doing wasn’t totally crazy. He supported me through thick and thin. He painted my salon, help me set up furniture, and sat with me till midnight sometimes while I cried because I thought “what the hell am I doing?!” A big Thank you to Mackenzie Kubistek for talking me into the salon owner life for about a month straight. She answered all my phone calls and texts when I was questioning my sanity and made me feel not so hopeless. Amanda Zupan for constantly sending me love, support and new clients. She is my guniee pig for everything and never questions my creative mindset, she just lets me do my thing. She is the Ying to my Yang. She has been with me since the day I became a dual licensed Esthetician and Cosmetologist and has been letting me practice new, and maybe crazy, ideas and services on her for the past 5 years.