Person Behind The Place:
Growing up in Texas for most of his life, Joe Bae worked more odd jobs than most people. He bounced around from managing a restaurant and working at a frame store to selling cars at a dealership. When he moved to Washington in 2009, his odd jobs continued as he worked at a gun store and then Nordstrom.
Bae’s mom always knew he had creative hands. She encouraged him to do more than just temporary jobs, which was the ultimate push to get him into the hair industry. In 2010, he went to beauty school and went on to become an apprentice at Obadiah Salon in Bellevue. He always knew that if he ever opened a salon, it would be in Downtown Bellevue. Bae took everything he learned from his time as an apprentice and fulfilled his dream by opening his own salon right in the heart of Bellevue. He's been the proud owner of Joe Bae Salon for the past six years. Read on to learn why Joe Bae Salon stands out, Bae’s future goals and his favorite places to hang out in Downtown Bellevue.
What makes Joe Bae Salon unique compared to other salons?
I think it’s our team and our experience. I put a lot of emphasis on making sure that the experience given to our clients trumps every other salon experience they’ve had before, from the moment they call to make an appointment to when they walk out the door after their haircut. At the end of the day, you can go to Supercuts for a haircut, but the experience we give to clients is what makes us truly different. We’re always trying to elevate that.
What's your favorite service to do since entering the hair industry?
I love doing men’s haircuts because it's more challenging. With men’s cut, if you go too short, there’s no turning back. Men’s cuts push me to do my job better every day and force me to pay extra attention to what I’m doing.
What inspires you to do your work?
What inspires me is the feeling of wanting to be different and be the best at what I’m doing. I look at the Brazen family over at 520 Bar & Grill, Sophie Banh at Monsoon, Claire Sumadiwirya at Bellden Cafe, and I look at the community around me and take inspiration from all of them. I pay attention to how they incorporate good customer service and experience and I take that and put it into my shop. I want people to come into my salon and think we’re different and it really comes down to what experience we can give our clients and how we stand out from everyone else.
What is your favorite part about working in Downtown Bellevue?
I love the fact that you can have an entire downtown with skyscrapers and 50-foot towers on one end, walk a couple of blocks and end up in Old Bellevue, a quaint street with local businesses. The diversity of what you can experience here is amazing.
Do you have a favorite place to dine out?
I love Monsoon. I think they've done such a good job at making everything look presentable. I also love 520 Bar & Grill, it’s solid, good food. The burger is one of my favorite foods there.
Any hidden gems in Downtown you'd like to give a shoutout to?
I don’t have an office in my salon, so I tend to make my way over to Belle Pastry. They have great coffee, I usually order a quad shot over ice.
Do you have any future plans coming up for yourself and Joe Bae Salon?
Right now, we have a junior program starting, training other people right out of school so they can earn their cosmetology license. We teach them everything from color service and haircuts to most importantly, the people side. Anyone can cut a straight line and after a certain point, anyone can color hair too. What I want to do is teach someone about how to build a relationship with clients and make those relationships last.
Follow Joe Bae Salon to see hair inspiration and ways to book an appointment.
Person Behind the Place is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.
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Joe Bae Salon
136 102nd Ave SE
Bellevue, WA 98004