By Kyle Russo

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Brittany and Fran Wong in their salon, Heritage Bloom Salon, in College Park, Md. on April 3, 2021. The mother-daughter duo opened their salon in October. (Julia Nikhinson/College Park Here & Now)

Fran Wong always dreamed of owning her own hair salon. For her daughter, Brittany, hair wasn’t always at the top of her list.

“Hair has not always been my plan A,” Brittany Wong said. “It actually was my plan B.”

But with time, a legion of local supporters and, more recently, a pandemic, the 54-year-old and 27-year-old mother-daughter duo’s dreams aligned.

Now, they own Heritage Bloom Salon in College Park, a small studio devoted to luxury, individualized care. From cutting, to coloring to waxing, Brittany and Fran Wong dedicate themselves to the loyal clientele they’ve amassed over the years and the legacy they hope to build.

Brittany and Fran Wong are no strangers to the salon industry; combined, Brittany Wong said, they have over 30 years of experience.

Back at her old salon, Fran Wong was in charge of 12 hair stylists, and she supervised retail. It only made sense, then, for her to take her experience and start her own salon with her daughter.

“I kind of had an idea of learning how to be management,” Fran Wong said, “and that’s what made me look into, like, we can do this.”

Heritage Bloom Salon opened its doors in October 2020, during a peak of the coronavirus pandemic that had already caused so many small businesses to fall by the wayside — including Mynd Spa and Salon, previously known as The Red Door, where Brittany and Fran Wong had been working.

The company filed for bankruptcy in March 2020. With that, the two felt a push to go off on their own.

“We didn’t have a choice but to change to adapt to this new normal,” Brittany Wong said.

But what really pushed the duo was their clients. Over the years, they’ve developed relationships with people from Hyattsville, College Park and beyond, Brittany Wong said. They utilized the University Park Listserv, an email group and hub for community news, to expand their reach.

“I built the relationships. I built a following. I built the reputation,” Brittany Wong said.

As a way to retain those relationships and make some money over the summer of 2020, the two offered coronavirus-safe appointments at clients’ houses, usually outside on a deck or patio, Brittany Wong said.

Enough clients started urging the mother-daughter duo to start their own salon that they decided it was worth it. Their clients’ belief in them inspired the duo to finally take that leap of faith.

For Fran Wong, it was also about providing the best service to those close to her.

“My guests are like my family,” she said.

The pandemic changed the course of Fran Wong’s life and brought her family closer together, she said. If not for COVID-19, it might have taken her and her daughter a few more years to open their own salon.

“I think it made us be able to start our dream a little earlier,” Fran said.

But starting a business during a pandemic is not without its challenges. Walk-in appointments have been rare, and many older clients are still nervous to go into the studio, according to Brittany.

To amend this, the duo has continued to offer at-home appointments for their customers. This kind of one-on-one care actually became standard practice for them; they still only care for one client at a time, even in the studio.

“As soon as they walk in the door,” Fran Wong said, “I want them to feel like they’re the only one that is on this earth.”

This is something that the mother-daughter duo hope to keep up, even after the pandemic.

For Fran Wong, starting a business as a family means passing down the work she’s done her whole life. It brings tears to her eyes, she said, to think about how she’s built such a place with her daughter.

“I’m very fortunate to have such a beautiful person to own a business with,” she said.

Now, about five months after their grand opening, the duo is still devoted to growing their brand and their legacy. It’s all in the name, Brittany Wong said. Heritage: passing down knowledge and experience through generations. Bloom: growing into bigger and better things.

“We have a dream,” Fran Wong said, “and I am just so lucky.”