In order to highlight the amazing local businesses in Florida’s 47th District, the Anna For Florida campaign has launched “47 Means Business,” an ongoing blog series to spotlight local business owners in Lake Eola, Downtown Orlando, Winter Park, and throughout the district.

Our blog digs deeper into local businesses by collaborating with business owners to showcase their success and to identify what the legislature can do to support them. Together, these profiles come together to create a larger picture of the amazing diversity and ingenuity of local business owners that Anna hopes to serve and represent in the Florida House.

This week, our team is proud to present Mosaic Hair Studio & Blowout Bar for all of your local beautifying needs. Cozied up on Virginia Drive, Mosaic has been proudly primping and priming residents since 2004. Whether you’re in the mood for light conversation or a deep conditioning treatment, owner Mike Van den Abbeel does it all with a top notch staff by his side. 

Team Anna: What inspired you to start your small business?

Mike Van den Abbeel: I’ve always known that I would follow in my parents entrepreneurial footsteps, but I just didn’t know how. It wasn’t until I started beauty school — all because of a girl — that I quickly found out that the beauty industry had already combined my two strengths: working with my hands and interacting one-on-one with people.

TA: What is the most exciting part about owning and operating a small businesses?

MA: We’ve celebrated all the small victories, ranging from the first day of opening to receiving the “Best of Orlando Salon” on Yelp, but we are exceptionally proud of watching our staff grow with us. Watching them grow, both personally and professionally, and seeing them achieve their goals makes us feel good, whether it’s dream vacations or home ownership. We know that in some small way we helped make that happen.

TA: Describe a perfect day at work.

MA: Lot of smiles and laughter with staff and clients. There is something uniquely personal about a stylist-client relationship, and that is special.

TA: Are there any current policy issues impacting your business? If so, how?

MA: Over 70% of students enrolled in beauty school never work in the industry. These students are loaded with student loan debt. Current law prohibits me from hiring anyone to even a shampoo assistant without a license. The way we do vocational training and licensing is stopping people from entering and starting in the industry. Overwhelmingly, licensing laws create barriers to entry for people interested in learning and starting in our industry. On the job training (OJT) should be encouraged, and the way people get licensed needs to be revamped. Currently, this process favors for-profit schools at the expense of the student.

TA: What could the legislature do better to help you thrive?

MA: It could revamp the licencing requirements to enter our industry. It could eliminate yearly occupational licensing fees on a local level. For example, each one of my employees is required to pay a yearly occupational licensing fee to the state, city, and then again to the county. Making a living should be a right, not subject to government shakedown with fees threatening additional fines and the inability to work if you don’t pay them. Local and state governments shouldn’t be making money from people by holding their career hostage if they don’t pay excessive fees.

More locally, zoning laws prohibit small business growth. For example, zoning master plans are often too restrictive, and they kill small business growth and favor large corporate commercial properties. Throughout Orlando, we hear about the public wanting to create more of a walkable community. That would be great, but only if you can actually open up a business nearby without forcing them into a large shopping complex.