The W Salon Experience

The W Salon Experience

February 17th, 2014  |  Published in Business

By Souny West

I am the owner of “The W Salon” located in Burke, Virginia. My team and I have created an award-winning, modern, boutique salon, which has received much attention not only for our artistry in hair and makeup, but also connecting with the community. We engage with the fashion and beauty community, while creating a presence in the entrepreneurial community, and also supporting local nonprofits. We recognize the benefits of connecting with others, and have made Beauty & Style a Social Business. Allow me to share our motto with you — we encourage our clients and supporters, “To Dream and Think Big, Collaborate and Share Ideas, Inspire and Motivate.”

Souny West

I have had the opportunity to speak on the topic of entrepreneurship and leadership on many occasions:

* Bridging Beauty to Business 2012 Conference – “Branding your Business” Baltimore, MD March 2012

* Vienna Tysons Chamber of Commerce – Opportunity 2012 “Businesses and Social Media” Tysons, VA in April 2012

* 2012 Presidential Campaign while introducing Governor Mitt Romney during his campaign in Fairfax, VA in October 2012

* Asian Chamber of Commerce – “Entrepreneur and Leadership Skills” Fairfax, VA in October 2012

* Hugh O’Brian State Youth Leadership Seminar ( – “Innovation in Business” National Public Radio, Washington DC in May 2013

I will continue to speak these and other related topics this coming year, because I love connecting with fascinating people, entrepreneurs and innovators. In May of 2014 I will be speaking at the HOBY National at National Public Radio. In June of 2014 I will be speaking at the Sterling Women networking event. I truly enjoy having the opportunity to connect with remarkable people, who make a difference in the world, and who want to share their intellectual curiosities for life. This is why, in addition to running the salon, I am also starting a new venture in 2014. I see the need to connect, collaborate, engage and socialize in a shared environment. I will soon be opening a private member business club that will cater to the social and entrepreneurial community in 2014, for formal and informal gatherings. Our club will be named Chic Capital Club with the first location opening in Virginia. We plan to expand to other major cities, creating a national community of influential individuals. We will also be creating a publication to help celebrate and highlight those within this community. To learn more about my new project, visit: We have a crowd funding site for the club concept on Plum Alley, to raise funds for the initial start-up costs:

My motivation to succeed came four years ago, from an upsetting event in my life which was a blessing in disguise. I worked at Network Solutions as a business analyst, reporting to the Director on business and operational cash matters involving various departments, and how it affected the overall business. After many years of dedicated service, I was laid off and the company later became insolvent. It was a disappointing experience, but it allowed me to pursue my entrepreneurial drive to start my own business, a desire I’ve had for some time. I opened the salon along with my sister, the true talent, in February 2010. My sister Sue has been a hairstylist for the past 15 years, and made styling a career for herself. I allowed her to be the director inside of the salon, as I knew nothing about the hair industry. What I did know about salons was the feeling of joy I had while there, and how I felt after leaving. So, I focused on creating the salon brand outside of the salon. The focus was to provide quality cuts and styles, as well as a sense of community. We’ve been doing exactly that for the past four years.

My mother was not able to send me to college, but I know she would have wanted to. I was only able to afford one year of college by working part time. I felt the weight and responsibility of caring for my family very early on, after my father passed away when I was 16 years old. In order to help support the family, I decided to seek a full time job, rather than return to college. The experiences I gained in the workforce gave me insight into how to learn and adapt differently than most college trained professionals. I am able to oversee all of our marketing, graphics, web design and overall business development of our salon brand through self-taught practices, which came from my years of working in a corporate environment. I knew the importance of branding and visual presentations and with our digital age, the importance of taking the online relationship with our clients – offline. We started to host events and partnered with local businesses and organizations to deliver a trusted brand.

My interest in business was partly inspired by my family and they continue to inspire me with their ongoing support. My mother worked at our family café in Laos and my father was a Chinese businessman who often traveled to Laos. I was born in Savannakhet, Laos before my family immigrated to the U.S. in 1980. I grew up mostly in Boston, Massachusetts with my two brothers and one sister. My sister, Sue Lawhorn, is also the co-owner of the salon. After my father passed away, we moved to Virginia and have stayed here ever since. I met my husband, Ryan West, at a motorcycle class — yes, I have a Class M license! He is native of Virginia and also an entrepreneur. We have been happily married now for 10 years, and have two young boys, and a newly acquired puppy we adopted in January from a shelter, which now makes us a family of 5. In fact, I will be in the fashion show Runway Moms for a Cause this May. I am very fortunate that our entire family lives near us. My mother-in-law sees her grandchildren every week and makes sure they never miss a science fair or a trip to the museum. My father-in-law, who lives 10 minutes from the salon, was instrumental in getting the salon up and running. My aunt Laos (yes, that is her name) currently works at the salon as well. Her daughters Tene, Wellta and Linda are not only close cousins, but my best friends. I am very big on family and without them, I would not be where I am.

The W Salon
6003B Burke Center Parkway
Burke, Virginia 22015

Salon: 703-250-0800
Facebook: W Salon Va

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