Creating a Connected Community for the Greater Good
By Meredith Simmons
Oak + Tonic salon in Calgary isn’t a typical beauty business—you won’t see many familiar brands lining the shelves. Instead, Oak + Tonic focuses on sourcing its beauty products from other Canadian businesses.
A second-generation hairstylist, owner Wil Lakatos decided to focus on Canadian goods after seeing how much work his family put into the salon, and how taxes and fees added up when importing beauty supplies.
“Small businesses work hard to keep what they have afloat,” Wil said. “I wanted to support our economy and local, small businesses.”
Before launching Oak + Tonic, Wil spent years finding the products the salon would eventually carry. He looked at what industry leaders carried and personally investigated products that piqued his interested.
“Everything we have on our shelves, I’ve either had on me or in me, in some way, shape or form,” Wil said. “I cannot sell anything to anybody without testing it.”
Visitors to Oak + Tonic can purchase any of the products Wil offers, or enjoy a traditional salon appointment from either Wil or his fellow stylist: his mother. Oak + Tonic is in the same location that Wil’s family has operated in for twenty-seven years.
“In October of last year, we renovated,” Wil said. “We’re slightly rebranding and trying to create the concept of European hair meets Canadian skincare.”
To Wil, Oak + Tonic is more than a business—it’s a way to connect the members of his community and other businesses around the country. And, when Wil was looking for salon software to help him run the salon, he wanted to find a company that felt the same way he did.
“For me, it’s all about connection,” Wil said. “I don’t think there’s anything out there like MINDBODY. Seeing that they’re connecting one person to the next. That’s really what it’s all about.”
As Oak + Tonic continues to grow, Wil hopes to use his connections with his customers for the greater good. Wil’s plans include initiatives to help build wells in third-world countries and to create a program to recycle the containers of products purchased from the salon.
“I’m the only one who loves this company as much as I do, and to me that lights a fire inside of me to tell everyone I know about Oak + Tonic,” Wil said. “And when everyone knows, then I know they’ll know about these people I work with. It’s all about the broader community.”