Olivia Lui (right) and her co-workers at Falali Salon • Courtesy

The Chinatown International District (CID) has a new hair salon: Falali, at 623 S King St. Falali owner Olivia Lui hopes to inspire other women to follow their dreams independent of others.

Powered by over 37 years of expertise, the salon is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and provides a wide range of services such as haircuts, hair styling, hair color, hair perms, hair treatments, and head massages with techniques from Japan, China, and Dubai.   

As a child, Lui grew up seeing her mother work at a hair salon in China. Her mom eventually owned a hair salon, also named Falali.   

After coming to the U.S. 13 years ago, Lui felt restricted by her husband, who wanted her to be a stay-at-home mom. Her husband had financial control over her and claimed that the money he made did not belong to her. Frustrated, Lui decided to take matters into her own hands and has now opened Falali hair salon in CID, inspired by her mother’s legacy.   

“I think women should be independent and should be stronger, not controlled by the men,” Lui said. “I am very happy now because I work for myself.” 

With limited support, Lui persisted and built her business from the ground up all on her own. She assisted her friends with their businesses and took advice from them to apply it to her own business.   

The storefront of Falali Salon at 623 South King Street • Photo by Jacquelyn Jimenez Romero

She wanted the location of her business to be by Hing Hay Park to take advantage of the area’s heavy foot traffic. It took her five months to secure the space for her salon because of the long list of requirements from the landlord to lease the space.   

“Everyone told me you should give up since the landlord is asking for too much,” Lui said. “If the landlord didn’t ask for anything, everyone can get it easily and it’s not worth it. No difficulties, no fun, right?”    

Making her own money has brought Lui a sense of worth. After being financially dependent for over 13 years, she’s happy she is able to see her income every day and finally feels like she does not belong to anyone.

Lui attributes the success of her salon to her constant pursuit of knowledge and her determination to continue getting better every day.   

“37 years ago, compared to right now, the skills are different,” Lui said. “We need to learn how to use new machines, products, and techniques to bring in new customers.” 

She aims to take in customers of all different hair types and learn how to do hair of all different races and ethnicities.

Additionally, she aims to take in customers no matter what languages they speak. Lui can speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Taishanese, and English and is hoping to learn a bit of Spanish as well, to try to get more Spanish-speaking customers.   

Falali Salon is open for business • Photo by Jacquelyn Jimenez Romero

“She’s really smart and hardworking,” said Max Qu, Lui’s friend and co-worker. “She’s probably the hardest working person I know.”   

Qu is a rising senior studying business at the University of Washington and says working at a small business start-up has been an eye-opening experience that has given him a lot of hands-on experience in learning how to set-up and run a business.   

Within the two months Falali been open, customers have been very satisfied with their services. They currently have over 45 five-star reviews on Google.    

In the future, Lui hopes to earn a Master’s degree and a license to teach cosmetology to students at her salon. She’s already self-studying during her free time and is hoping to enroll in classes once she is more settled into the business.   

“If you have a dream just stick to it and do it, hang in there no matter what difficulties you meet,” Lui said. “I know there are many difficulties along the way but don’t give up, you will get it eventually.”      

Falali Hair Salon brings ‘Ferrari quality haircuts with Toyota prices’ to the CID.

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