Sabit Hantal of SH Fifth Avenue Salon: “Careful with heat”

Careful with heat: I know everyone loves a good blowout or some curls and I’m not telling you to give it up, but be sure to use a heat protectant and leave in. Water: Drink lots and lots of water. Water is literally good for everything, your hair, your skin, nails, your whole body! As a part […]

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

Careful with heat: I know everyone loves a good blowout or some curls and I’m not telling you to give it up, but be sure to use a heat protectant and leave in.

Water: Drink lots and lots of water. Water is literally good for everything, your hair, your skin, nails, your whole body!

As a part of our series about “Five Things Anyone Can Do To Have Fabulous Hair”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sabit Hantal, a hairstylist and founder of SH Fifth Avenue Salon. Originally from Istanbul, Turkey. He has been working in the industry for over 10 years furthering his skills and mastering his craft. He is most well-known for his cutting and color skills.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I thought it would be a great way to meet girls? Lol. When I was younger my dad used to take me to get my haircut and I always went home miserable. Always unhappy because no one listened to me or paid attention to what I wanted or how I felt. I hated it! I didn’t want anyone to ever feel like that, and vowed I would be different, that people would leave my chair happy.

But in all honestly, no matter how cliché it might sound right now, I just wanted to be able to make people feel good about themselves. I have a wide range of clients and half the time when a new client comes to me it’s because they have been disappointed and let down somewhere else. They wanted a certain look and couldn’t achieve it or they got it but it ended up not coming out how they pictured it in their head.

There’s a moment when I’m doing someone’s hair, my wife calls it the “holy sh*t moment”. It’s the moment after the client’s hair has been washed and toned, they are sitting in my chair and I blowout that front piece for them and it’s the first time they see the results… and almost every time.. you get that “holy sh*t moment” (many cases, they will say it actually say out loud lol, that’s how it got its name).

But in that moment if you look at your clients face you see the shock, the surprise, and the pure joy… that’s why I do it. That moment, that happiness they experience is everything. You see a complete change in the person, even if the change to their hair was minor it doesn’t matter. If they are happy, they feel good, if they feel good, there is this strength and confidence that starts radiating off of them, it’s amazing. Applies to men too after a good haircut and styling.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Oh this is actually tougher than I thought. Going to a salon to inquire renting a chair, and opening my own salon instead? True story, my wife followed a nail tech she like to a salon, and ended up telling me about the salon and I went to inquire about renting a chair or two. Couple weeks later, I bought out the existing owner and signed a lease January 1, 2020.

OR Trying to open that salon in March of 2020 after months of renovations, and having to close a few days later after because of a Global Pandemic? 5 days after a soft-opening to start staffing, I was sucker-punched by life. Its ok though, I have learned that you power through, you don’t give up. You keep going. Maybe, finally achieving a lifelong dream, and then being sucker-punched by a global pandemic? lol

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

I spent way more time on this question then I thought I would. And after writing a lengthy breakdown for pages from the beginning of my career to now, I realized my answer is way simpler then that. The tipping point in my career was when I started truly believing in myself and taking chances. About 4 years ago, I made a decision that started a chain reaction in my career. I quit my great job at a prestigious salon when I realized I wouldn’t be able to able to reach my potential if I stayed there. I started over at a different salon in a different city where I made a name for myself. About 1 year later, I realized I had reached all my goals, but I was overworked, overused, and overwhelmed. So, I began looking for a chair rental or studio space, and around that time I had just moved and was at a different salon being completely used, but I will never regret it because it resulted in me quitting my job and starting a private client experience called MembersOnlyNY from my living room. It started with the thought that I would work from home for a few weeks for a few clients that didn’t mind till I found a space. What I thought would have been the lowest point of my career ended up being the tipping point. The concept behind MembersOnlyNY took off. I lived on the 21st floor in the financial district and turned my dining room into a salon studio. Every single client came, and they loved it, feedback was incredible. Word of mouth brought new clients. And this is where I need to take a second and say I have the most amazing clients. They followed me from city to city, state to state, and all the way to my living room. A year later I moved into a duplex penthouse and built a salon studio out of the top floor. I was doing what I loved on my own terms. Studio was no longer in my living space but had its own entrance, waiting room, bathroom and private terrace on 35th floor. And a year later, while realizing the only way to grow was to expand, another opportunity struck again, and I took another huge leap of faith and opened my salon SH Fifth Avenue. You have to push yourself, you have to try new things, take some chances. You can’t move forward if you sit still in fear. It’s the only way to grow. Its ok if it doesn’t go your way, learn from it and try again. Set goals, and when you hit them, set new ones.

In your experience what were the most effective ways for your business to generate leads and sales? Can you share a story or give an example?

Quality over Quantity and Honesty. Honestly, I owe a lot of my initial clients/success to word of mouth and that initial Instagram boom. My clients loved their hair and would share it and tag me. I would say at least 95% of my clients are from word of mouth and referrals. For that to work, you need to be honest with your clients, and put quality over quantity. To this day most of my clients are still word of mouth or through Instagram. Social media is amazing so use it. Its literally an online portfolio of your work and people like to see your work and what you are capable of. I always take photos of my clients’ hair when I’m done so that I can post them. I also share the photos with my clients who post them as well.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am forever grateful for my parents who always stood behind me and supported me no matter what I wanted to do, and I also have to say I had a lot of great mentors along the way that I am very grateful for as well. But particular person who helped me get to where I am? My wife. Remember the part about the tipping point in my career earlier and believing in myself and taking chances. I left out the part where that was right around the time I met my wife. I don’t even know how to put it into words. She’s been the most supportive and encouraging person in my life. She lit a fire under me. She made me realize my worth and potential. I was capable of so much more. She had this way of setting me straight and putting things in perspective. Every time it came time to take a risk or move on to more.. and I was hesitant or worried she always asked me what do you have to lose? What do you have to lose? Your business? Your money? Your pride? If the business fails, we figure out why, learn, and try again, Pride? Not worth it. So, don’t waste your time or let it hold you back. The money invested? It sucks but who cares, it’s just money you can make more. At the end of the day YOU are what matters. The business can fail, you can lose the money and your pride, but no one can take your talent or knowledge from you. You can ALWAYS rebuild. Remember that. So what really do you have to lose? She made me realize I had nothing to lose. When I took a risk, I never depended on anyone else, I made took risks depending on only myself. That was the shifting point of my life. I conquered my fears, started believing in myself and taking risks. And when I took the biggest leap of faith in my life and signed the lease on my salon, she quit her job as an attorney and put her own career on hold to help me build mine, because that’s how much she believes in me.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

When I had just started apprenticing, and had no idea what I was doing and THOUGHT I knew what I was doing, I attempted to do a relaxer treatment on my brother. Let’s just say we had to shave his head after and he was not happy. I thought leaving it in longer would make it work better. NOPE. Absolutely not. Completely fried his hair.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?

It can be done, but it won’t be easy. Never give up. Take chances. You really have nothing to lose but an opportunity to succeed. Be humble, never forget where you come from. Never settle, always try to continue and further your education, learning never stops, always try to better yourself. Quality is always more important than quantity.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you please share “Five Things Anyone Can Do To Have Fabulous Hair”. Please share a story or an example, for each.

Regularly Trim: Get your hair trimmed every 8–12 weeks. If you have issues on your ends, they don’t just go away, they work their way up.

Don’t try to do things yourself at home: I feel like everyone learned this the hard way during quarantine trying to do their own hair. You will do more harm than good.

Home care: Taking care of your hair doesn’t end at the salon. You need to keep up with it at home. Healthy hair is beautiful hair. Your stylist can recommend a good home care for you, but I always suggest a good shampoo and conditioner, as well as a masque.

Careful with heat: I know everyone loves a good blowout or some curls and I’m not telling you to give it up, but be sure to use a heat protectant and leave in.

Water: Drink lots and lots of water. Water is literally good for everything, your hair, your skin, nails, your whole body!

Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Go see your hairstylist. Whether it’s a makeover or just a good haircut, when you feel good, you feel beautiful. Even a good blow-out goes a long way, in a salon or even at home. I’ve noticed that that when people feel good about their hair, it puts an extra bounce in their step.

But more importantly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty isn’t just someone’s appearance, it truly is on the inside too. When people feel good, they look and feel beautiful. So, take care of yourself, treat yourself. Do whatever you need to do. Take a mental health day, relax, have fun, get a blowout or have a spa day at home. Do whatever makes you happy. Happiness is beautiful. When people are happy they radiate beauty.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I don’t think I’m a person of great influence but it’s nice of you to say lol. But if I were, I would love to inspire a movement for people to stand up for each other. You never realize how bad bullying really is till one day you see what it really does to people. I don’t want to just inspire an anti-bullying movement, because I don’t know if we can ever actually stop it. I want to inspire people to stand up for each other. I’ll admit it, I have never been bullied and I thought about why that might be and realized It was because I always had good people around me that always had my back and I always had theirs, but not everyone is as lucky as I was. If something wrong is happening, don’t stand there and watch or just leave. Step in, step up, and help. I don’t mean get into an altercation or risk anyone’s safety but don’t leave the person alone, stand with them or help them get out of there. That could be your brother or sister, your friend or your child. You would stand up for them if you were there, but if you weren’t there you would have wished someone stood up for them, so do the same for others. Step in and stand up for them if you can safely. Do something about it if you can. It’s so sad to see all these videos of bullying not only because someone is being bullied, but also because someone is actually standing there watching, recording, instead of intervening. Don’t let that happen, Step up, step in, and help

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Honestly, I can’t pick a specific one but like to live by this.. “Trust yourself, never give up and always stay humble”

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂

’m not sure if he will read it but I’m a huge fan of Acun Ilicali. He’s changed television in Turkey in my opinion. I would love to share a meal with him. He’s a Turkish television icon, who started out his career as a sports reporter. He went from reporter to icon, entrepreneur, international tv producer and business man. He’s an incredible inspiration.

How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram @sabithantal and @shfifthavenue

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!

You might also like...


Lorraine Massey: “One Curl at a time”

by Jilea Hemmings

Dani Toma: “Avoid showering with really hot water”

by Jilea Hemmings

Quora Neeff: “Give to yourself first”

by Jilea Hemmings
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.