If Makda Kibours life were a play, shed be on act three.
Already the owner of Maks Place Salon, Kibour opened Grass Roots Station restaurant last winter. Located adjacent to her East Braddock Road salon, the eatery specializes in organic and multicultural cuisine.
Kibours passion is on display in both businesses literally.
Colorful contemporary acrylics on canvas are featured prominently, windows into the successful entrepreneurs artistic side. Juggling these three passions is not easy, Kibour said.
Her shop is an Aveda Concept Salon, which features organic hair care and body products. In an industry known for promoting products and tools to alter ones looks, Kibour sports naturally curly hair. Her radiant skin and youthful glow are products of a healthy lifestyle, not chemicals.
She approaches business the same way she does life: trusting, nurturing and organic. Hire good people and success will follow, she said.
I feel privileged to provide jobs, Kibour said. A lot of my employees have been with me for years. They are like family. Theyve got me and Ive got them.
She emphasizes the importance of helping her employees achieve their personal and professional goals.
Its not a one-way ticket, Kibour said. I think relationships with people come before anything, including money. I love them like a family.
When the economy slipped, Kibour worried she might have to lay off more than just longtime workers: her friends. Instead she gave herself a pay cut and rode out the tough stretch. She counts Gail Jackson, the salon manager, among her closest friends.
She was my paying customer for years, Kibour said. One day we realized she needed a job and I needed help.
The Ethiopian-born Kibour moved to the U.S. in 1984 as part of an exchange program. She attended high school in Intercourse, Pa. while staying with a Mennonite family. As odd as it sounds, the Amish lifestyle was similar to the rural life Kibour grew up with in her home country.
Ethiopia, the country itself was very slow paced. So when we came to Pennsylvania, I felt right at home, Kibour said. Intercourse, Pa. and the horses and buggies were like the way my grandmother got around in Ethiopia. It was very familiar.
After graduating she attended beauty school in Reading, Pa. She found a new home in Washington D. C. when she moved to the area in 1991 and began working for a salon in Old Town. It wasnt long before Kibour opened her own place, a three-chair salon on North Washington Street. After 10 years she moved to Braddock Road, just across from the Metro station.
When her neighbor, La Piazza, went out of business, Kibour jumped at the chance to make another life-long dream a reality. Her new coffeehouse style restaurant serves fresh, organic foods and pays homage to her heritage.
Growing up in Africa, there was nothing frozen. You kill your chicken and you eat it, she said.
Although Kibour has been painting for years, she began showing her art only recently. She paints at the Torpedo Factory and has turned the walls of her businesses into a gallery. Style, cuisine and art Kibours interests are as eclectic as her world travels.
In the end, its about finding happiness, she said.
I decided every Friday I was going to do nothing but paint, said Kibour. Ive got to be happy. No matter what, I dont feel guilty.