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Zen Jen Hair Studio owner and hairstylist Jenny Mui works on customer Sylvia Chavez's hair in her shop inside Sola Salon Studios in Pleasanton, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010. (Cindi Christie/Staff)

PLEASANTON — No Facebook. No Twitter. No Web site.

While other businesses use social media to try to get an edge on competition, on the other end of the spectrum sits hair stylist Jenny Mui.

To the outside world, her business, Zen Jen Hair Studio is a mystery. Tucked inside Sola Salon Studios in Pleasanton, it's hard to know what this 30-year-old has to offer unless one's in the know.

And that's how Zen Jen Hair Studio has thrived. Through word-of-mouth.

"How great is it to know that it's your reputation that has built your business," she said. "For me, it's always been about making sure the customer comes first, and people appreciate that."

If she had more time in front of the computer, she might use social media more. Or if she had a salon with other stylists, it would be another story. She could have features on each.

But it's just her.

"To me, it just seems narcissistic to have a Web site about me," she said. "Besides, there would be no way for me to prove that the hair I put on the Internet was done by me."

When she first started in the profession, she would go to the nearby coffee shops and seek out the baristas. Mui would tell them that she's going to do their hair for free.

The only thing asked in return is if someone asks them about their hair, she refers clients to her.

"I got many clients that way," she said.

Compared with the Supercuts and Great Clips of the world, Mui asks more for her service. A haircut for men costs $40. Women is $60. And if someone wants a color, haircut, and highlights it's $165.

But while the hair salons often found in strip malls try to get their clients in and out as fast as possible, Mui wants hers to have an overall experience.

Recently she inherited the moniker "hair-apist" because she finds that many of her clients not only want a haircut, but someone to talk to.

"One client told me she gave up her therapist because she was getting the same thing here for half the price," Mui said.

Mui has been a hair stylist for 11 years. When she first was in college, she had no idea what she wanted to do. She "fiddle faddled" from idea to idea, with hair stylist never being one. It was when she got a job as a receptionist at a hair salon in Pleasanton's Stoneridge Shopping Center that she found a profession that caught her eye. She enrolled in Toni and Guy Advanced Hair Academy and immersed herself into learning everything. Quickly she became a natural.

Afterward, she worked at Christopher-Michael Salon and Spa in Dublin.

It was there Mui got her break. When a client came in and demanded a cut, Mui was the only one available. Her boss asked if she wanted to give it a whirl, and she jumped on the opportunity.

The job was a success, and she was promoted to the "front chair" in the shop. It changed the course of her professional life forever.

"For whatever reason it all came so easy to me," she said.

But while she liked working in the salon, in the back of her mind she knew one day she wanted to work for herself and have complete control of the environment.

"I wanted a place where I wouldn't have to worry about any drama," she said. "Where all the focus is on the customer, and not the hair stylist."

One day she hopes to include some training sessions for aspiring hair stylists.

"The good ones are becoming a dying breed," she said. "I want to make sure there are still some of us around."

Mui herself is very liberal about her own hair. On this day she's going black with purple. That will change.

"You never have a bad hair cut if you have a great attitude," she said. "You can wear whatever you have if you have the right attitude."

Currently, she has about 200 clients and growing.

Being her own boss certainly comes with challenges and stress. She now has to balance her own books, and has a $1,600 monthly rent to pay. But overall she couldn't be happier.

"Being successful to me isn't just necessarily about making money," she said. "It's about doing work that you love.

"To bring clients in and watch them walk out with continued confidence is what I love more than anything," she added.

Contact David Morrill at 925-977-8477.


Business Name: Zen Jen Hair Studio
Owner: Jenny Mui
Employees: 1
Location: 6010 Johnson Drive, Suite #15 in Sola Salon Studios
Phone: (510) 381-0788