Our Inspiration

Anjel McLaughlin: the spirit of Akada

 Anjel 1                                                                                                                                                                                                    The creative atmosphere and award-winning designs of Akada Salon are the vision of one woman: Anjel McLaughlin. She’s a rare blend of passion and practicality, devoted to her employees as well as her clients. And she’s created a hair salon unlike any other.


      Anjel’s lifelong interest in beauty led her to the Managing Cosmetology program at the Ohio State School of Cosmetology. This comprehensive program taught her to be a skilled practitioner of her trade and – just as importantly – a master of such business aspects as marketing, accounting, and management. In 1989, Anjel received her license and started working at some of Columbus’s top salons.


     “I practiced in some amazing places,” Anjel recalls. But from the beginning, she had her own ideas about what a hair salon should be. She wanted to create a peaceful environment where both stylists and clients could flourish. An appointment, she felt, should be the best part of a client’s day. The client might come in stressed, but she should leave feeling happy, fulfilled, and beautiful. To accomplish that, Anjel realized, a stylist needs to be as skilled at communication as he or she is at working with hair.


     It was time for Anjel to put her beliefs into action. So, in 1997, she opened Akada Salon. To master the art of communication, she took classes from expert consultants. She worked with cognitive psychologists for more than a year to understand how people learn and to develop a year-long training program that’s the envy of other independent salons.


     Since beauty is a moving target, Anjel is committed to ongoing education. She travels regularly to learn the latest trends and get hands-on experience with new tools and techniques. In the past 10 years, she has trained in many places with some of the biggest names in the industry, including Vivienne Mackinder and Nick Arrojo in New York and Vidal Sassoon and Toni and Guy in London.


     Akada stylists are also required to travel for training at least once a year to expand their minds and their fashion sense as well as their skill with hair. Where do they get the money? When clients buy hair care products at Akada, 10% of the purchase price goes into their stylists’ personal education funds.


     Anjel takes pride in teaching her stylists business skills to anchor their creativity. “I like knowing they are building a solid foundation to support the rest of their lives,” she says. Anjel invests in her people . . . creatively, personally, and professionally. Perhaps not surprisingly, Akada employees tend to stay a long time. And Akada clients return at more than twice the average rate.


     Like any small business owner, Anjel has many duties. But she always makes time for the things that feed her soul. “I truly enjoy being with people . . . being open to differences and appreciating them,” she says. Anjel has never seen cutting as just a stepping stone to management. Her clients are her inspiration, and she still does hair three days a week.


     Anjel’s art is making her clients and employees feel strong, confident, and beautiful in many ways. It just doesn’t get better than that.