Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Patrick Mirlach, co-founder, and general manager of Vanilla Loft, located in North Vancouver, BC, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Vanilla Loft (VL) is a private artist studio where we provide an elevated salon experience in a client-centric atmosphere. Previously operating as a successful commission-based hair salon, VL's platform is carved out for client dedication and helping aspiring stylists to grow. Our unique approach to education fosters a prestigious salon environment that perfectly mirrors the personality and talent of the artist within – Chris Weber Hair. Over the years, we garnered a prestigious, dedicated & family-like clientele of BC locals, artists, elite businesswomen, as well as international actors, celebrities, and influencers who trust Chris Weber exclusively to create world-class color, cut, and style. Additionally, in response to the pandemic, we expanded our brand and began offering virtual & in-person workshops for inspired hairstylists & salon owners and further established our eCommerce store.

The forming of our brand started with the following phrase after collaborating & creating with a very close friend: "When you feel at ease when your shoes are off, your bag is down, and your hat is hung. When you exhale your day, you inhale the feeling of home. We believe artists create their finest work in spaces where they are truly themselves. Vanilla Loft is an unexpected artist sanctuary relishing in the subtle power of home. We support artistry, encourage brilliance in the industry and raise the bar for the salon experience. Welcome to our home."

Tell us about yourself

I grew up in & around Munich, Germany, and completed three years of hotel management training in 2008 – a launchpad for working with premium hotel groups and global fashion brands in customer service, visual management, and operations roles. In 2017 I started my entrepreneurial journey, becoming Co-Founder of Vanilla Loft. I hold a multi-faceted & diverse hands-on role where I manage client bookings, budgeting & cost control, purchasing, inventory control, artist management, marketing & PR, operations, design & planning, customer relations & satisfaction, retail direction, and e-commerce. It never gets boring; although it is a lot of business, my duties also contain a much-needed touch of creativity which keeps me balanced! Further, I love connecting with nature and the beautiful scenery Canada has to offer. Growing up close to the Alps, I've always been drawn to the mountains, where I find silence and the calm to recharge. My favorite season is Winter (all though I am enormously enjoying the Westcoast summers), where I gain energy skiing or lounging cozily on the sofa, enjoying some fine 80/90s movies or European crime shows.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Building my company (together with my business partner) from scratch as an immigrant in a country I didn't grow up in or receive education, in addition to challenging myself as a hotel/retail management specialist in an industry where I did not receive my professional background is my biggest accomplishment. Further prioritizing work-life balance has been a big achievement. I've typically always taken on 'more,' and when an opportunity came to open a second location, my business partner and I decided it would be too demanding for the time being.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

You won't be loved by everyone! Your ultimate mission is to serve the brand, which nurtures your business collective, and the clientele that identify with it. Not everyone will resonate with the brand, and that's OK! Following this path (making decisions in general) will affect various other individuals within your business circle. I compare this scenario with actors in movies – there are characters you genuinely enjoy watching – you love them, but there are also roles you simply dislike; you may even hate them, although you know realistically that this actor is a real trouper and portraits their role very well. In addition, there are specific situations where you must place yourself, individually, behind the greater good of the company.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Define your brand at the beginning but be open to reinventing your concept along the way.
  2. Establish your support system – friends who listen, loyal team members & professional third-party advisors.
  3. Form is temporary; class is permanent.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Since we opened our studio in 2017, Vanilla Loft has been partnered with "Green Circle Salons" and, therefore, a certified sustainable salon. We are very proud to have joined this recycling initiative and to have recovered 95% of our salon's beauty waste like hair clippings, foils, and color tubes. With this program, we avoid stressing landfills and waterways and giving beauty waste a new life. Further, we are a certified partner in climate action and offset carbon emissions by joining numerous carbon offset projects.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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