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April 29, 2020

Moms to KNOW: Inge Handing and Tanja Catoe

By Julie Tingley, KNOW Tampa and KNOW St. Pete/Clearwater

Like mother, like daughter! Meet the incredible mom-boss, beauty industry trailblazing duo from KNOW Tampa. Family, business partners and best friends, Inge Handing and Tanja Catoe are a force in the hair world as evidenced by a 40+ year sustained legacy with an innovative and adaptable forward trajectory.

Handing was born in Austria and moved to Tampa when she was 22. She founded the award-winning Salon Inga 32 years ago. Catoe, her only child, is Tampa born and raised, and is married with three daughters, a 4-year-old and 2-year-old twins. Catoe has been a partner of Salon Inga brands since 2009. They opened The Barbershop by Salon Inga in 2015. Catoe also co-owns a local Blow Dry Salon, Crown & Mane, where Handing serves as education director. Together, these two community leaders have built an impressive beauty brand together in Tampa, and are proof of the magic that can be created from that sacred mother-daughter bond.

Tanja and Inge

What has it been like working together as a mother-daughter team? What have you learned from this experience?

IH: I think it was easier for me then for Tanja. I have always had a passion for this business and adding Tanja to it was the icing on the cake: 100% support, 100% trust, 100% honesty. The biggest part I have learned was that you have to let go of some things…allow the newer generation to help move you forward. And to allow yourself and your business to evolve. This is where the trust part plays such an enormous role.

TC: It’s been so rewarding! Definitely a learning curve- I mean you know- it’s your Mom! My biggest goal has always been to support her and to help her wishes come to fruition. Yes, I’ve added some wishes and visions along the way. But she has such a natural knack for building talent and for sharing her knowledge that I feel like me adding my little sprinkles on top just adds to the magic. I have learned about leading and managing with compassion, and I think that comes from working with the team. It’s so easy to look in from the outside and say or think what you think is right or should be happening. It’s quite another to get it. In our industry, you can really only ‘get it’ if you’ve worked in their position as well.

Why do you think it’s important for women to support each other?

This is easy and maybe a little cliché, but SO TRUE: We’re better together! Women have so much to offer and when we support each other and unite we can get so much more done!

The coronavirus outbreak has made a huge impact on families and businesses around the country and world. How are you all doing? How has this changed you personally?

We are doing OKAY! For the moment, the biggest change is just probably a little more time to think. This may sound strange, but we really want to remember how we’re feeling right now. And, what we’re going through now. A lot of times, when things get ‘better’ you forget about that “stuff” before. Not saying you need to dwell on the hardship. But remember what you went through and how you got through it. For us, keeping kindness at the forefront is the biggest part. We feel this way always but really making sure we’re checking in with our teams, our clients, our community.

How can people support small businesses in our community like yours?

That’s kind of a tough one. Obviously, we want to not only survive but thrive when this is all over. We have been so grateful and appreciative of the love and support we’ve received thus far. We seriously have the best clients in the best community. More than anything, we can all just support one another by keeping awareness up for one another—share and like posts, share ideas, community givebacks and promotions. And then, when we’re all up and running, we visit and spend where we can and when we can. It’s sometimes those non-monetary things that help the most and lead the monetary gains we’ll all end up needing in the end.

Let’s dish on tips on hair care during ‘quarantine’. Should we go for the box hair dye or attempt to cut our own hair?

That’s a big N-O. Seriously. We know everyone wants to feel as good as possible, especially in times like this, BUT it’s not worth it! We have given little tutorials along the way for ways to extend and keep it fresh. The fact of the matter is that we, like other salons, will have to continue to get creative. So, stay patient, stay tuned and (definitely for now) #showyourroots!!

How about our kids’ hair? Especially little boys who may need more frequent haircuts. Any tips?

Moms, this is one thing we can let go of right now. We have so much on our at-home plates right now anyway. Let the little surfer boys come out unless you’re ready to just shave it all off. To get by, we’ve posted some little ear clean-ups. But, really, the kids are probably happy to not be messed with right now. Let them be free.

Tanja and Inge at their first salon.
Is there anything else you would like to add?

IH: I started in this industry when I was 15 and have always been passionate and grateful for everything that it’s brought me. It’s come full circle now getting to do it with my daughter. I get to have a legacy in so many different ways and it’s truly uplifting and humbling.

TC: At the end of the day, when I get to work with my mom and friends, have a job that allows for flexibility with my kids, stay connected with our community and make people feel great, it’s rewarding beyond what I thought. I’ve never worked harder, but all of those components make for such a nice recipe. It’s hard not to smile my way through it.


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