5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Launched My Start-Up, With Matt Traiger

“Keep a happy work environment, keep employees happy. I take a great deal of pride in treating my employees well. Perks such as higher than industry commission, large profit sharing and bonus, paid vacation, team trips, etc are great for bonding and company morale. Happy employees will keep customers happy, it is a trickle down effect.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing Matt Traiger, Owner, Jesamondo Salon & Spa.

Yitzi: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I went to UMASS Amherst with little to no direction. My parents knew that I was really good at math, but they also knew I was lacked concentration and was easily distracted. I was pushed into the business school. I chose accounting over finance for my pursuit.

Upon graduation, I was offered public accounting jobs. I was hired by Arthur Andersen, the #1 accounting firm in the world. They went out of business before I started.

My first job I was in public accounting, I went to Wellington Management for 4 years. I was really good at the job, but I really was not passionate.

I bounced around between companies because I was never able to find an opportunity that was fulfilling.

In 2011, I went off on my own, and started my own company. The first year in business was terrible, I lost a lot of money.

I picked up a side job, and kept doing my business in the evening because I had confidence that I could succeed.

I was really lucky because one of the side clients was Carrot Creative and another client was Instacart and they both grew a lot.

I got this opportunity with Jesamondo as the owner, Jesse, wanted to retire. I took a risk because I wanted to do something so different. I was attracted to Jesamondo because so many of the employees had been there for so long and it had such a special culture.

Yitzi: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you joined your company?

When I first took over Jesamondo in the winter of 2015, I still hadn’t found someone to do regular cleanings for me. I remember I was doing lots of janitorial duties. I was taking out the trash one night and I had my keys in my hand and the trash in the other. I flung the trash into the dumpster and the keys got caught on the trash bag string and went in the dumpster with it. This was at midnight! My phone was in the salon and of course the salon was locked. As I mentioned, it was the dead of winter so it was 0 degrees out. I was freezing as my jacket was also in the salon. I had to walk all the way down to the police station to get assistance to find keys. They agreed to point flashlight into the dumpster for me. I grabbed trash bag and luckily keys were still on the trash bag string so there was not too much digging involved.

Yitzi: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Jesamondo is heavily involved in donating to communities in the area.

Some of the organizations that I donate time and money to include: Natick Service Council which supports families struggling in Natick and the food pantry, St. Jude Runway to Miracles , NE Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, “Scoop a polooza”, Ted Talk in Natick, local sports teams, and much more! I am so passionate about helping others and selecting places to donate that will have a huge impact on helping others.

Yitzi: What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I launched my Start-Up” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Property Maintenance is no joke. 500–600 people come in every week. Keeping up with property with so much foot traffic is very challenging. We want our customers to have a serene experience and for the space to look impeccable, which can be very tough. I take a lot of pride in that.
  2. Growing a team and advancing stylists to the next level is a blessing and a curse. When we graduate an assistant into a stylist through our apprenticeship program, it creates change and disruption on the floor as everyone is adjusting to their new roles. when we promote them them, backfilling their position can be a grueling process.
  3. You are always on. For me personally, it is important to over staff the salon to help with optimal customer service.
  4. You need mentors. In my life, I was lucky to have many positive influences my father (a dentist who had same staff work for him for 40 years), grandfather (a roofer who also had very low turnover in his business), and Jesse Gesimondo (previous owner of Jesamondo). They have helped me along this journey and showed me how to take care of employees and create a culture that makes people want to come to work!
  5. Keep a happy work environment, keep employees happy. I take a great deal of pride in treating my employees well. Perks such as higher than industry commission, large profit sharing and bonus, paid vacation, team trips, etc are great for bonding and company morale. Happy employees will keep customers happy, it is a trickle down effect.

Yitzi: I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

There are a few folks that I would love to meet with Kylie Jenner pick her brain. She is such a trendsetter and is iconic. Also, Brad Mondo (son of Jesse Gesimondo) who is a major social media influencer and YouTube sensation in hair, beauty, and fashion. Guy Tang is another, he a trendsetter for hair. He uses tons of vivid colors and fun techniques for colorists.