The VY in front of Valentin Salon’s name stands for Valentin Yersian who is the charming owner of this Dunbar business.
Valentin worked extremely hard to get to the point where she was able to open her own hair salon in 2012. Her story is one of perseverance and never giving up on a dream.
For as long as Valentin can remember she has loved hair.
She recalls at age twelve cutting her mother’s hair with the assistance of her sisters who are also hair stylists. She easily obtained her stylist credentials in her homeland of Iran and began working. Her sisters left the country for a new life in the United States and Valentin hoped to follow them, however she encountered difficulties applying for a visa.
Not wishing to return to Iran, and still unable to obtain a visa, she lived in a number of European countries, however her stylist credentials were not accepted. She ended up in Spain where she learnt the language and worked long hours as a nanny to save up for her European cosmetology credentials. After receiving her license she was able to return to her passion and worked in a salon for five years but she still longed to be reunited with her sisters.
Valentin arrived in Vancouver with $50 in her pocket and she did not speak English.
With nothing to lose, Valentin immigrated to Canada so she would be closer to the United States. She describes her arrival at Vancouver International Airport in 1998 like it was yesterday, and with good reason, it was a life changer. It was the wee hours of the night and the airport was virtually abandoned when a kind gentleman offered to help her make a phone call to find accommodation. Serendip-itously, he also spoke Armenian and introduced Valentin to his family and friends; six years later they wed.
Once again Valentin was faced with looking for work as a hair stylist and not having her credentials recognized. Through her church she found a job caring for an elderly woman. What was originally a short-term job evolved into a long-term position, which gave her time to learn English, establish permanent residency in Canada and enabled her to enrol in a cosmetology program.
Once she had completed the program she faced another obstacle, she was now overqualified for many jobs. Not to be deterred from her passion, she kept searching until she found a job at Vida Beautilities in Dunbar. The two hair stylists connected and Valentin was delighted to be working again in the profession she had missed so much. When the time came that Vida wanted to sell her business Valentin purchased it.
For four years she operated the salon in its original location a few doors down from its new home, which opened in July 2017. After an extensive renovation Valentin is thrilled with the results and is thoroughly enjoying the nice bright space.
When she first opened her salon in 2013 she depended on word of mouth to build her client base. Today she has extremely loyal clients who come from near and far to get haircuts and colour. In addition, Valentin is trained in microblading eyebrows and permanent eyeliner.
She has given babies their first haircuts and has cut hair for three generations of family members. Valentin treasures her client relationships and has formed some very good friendships. She says, “It’s not only about hair, I learn about life from them.”
The generosity of her clients is limitless. People have been known to bring her cake, bread, jam, homemade wine or gifts when they return from a vacation. She is touched by their thoughtfulness and says, “You can’t buy this kindness. I have so many caring and loving clients. I am so lucky.”
“We cry together, we laugh together and in some cases we inspire each other.” Valentin Yersian
Valentin enjoys giving back by volunteering her talent as a hair stylist. She has participated in a number of fashion shows with her friend (and former Dunbar business owner) Chloe Angus who is a clothing designer. They also worked together for six years at the Leo Awards, which honours B.C.’s film and television industry.
This vivacious business owner is a great example of never giving up. Her motto is, “Dream big, stay positive, work hard and enjoy the journey.”
Clients regularly hug her because they are thrilled with their transformation and this warms her heart. Valentin concludes, “I have a passion and love my work. I am in love with hair.”
VY Valentin Salon
4290 Dunbar Street
Vancouver, BC V6S 2E9