How to Make it Grande: Part One of ThreeI began by asking, “Why did you decide on beauty school” of new, seasoned, and retiring Latino salon profesionales several months ago. The answers were un poco off the cuff with the younger set, and, understandably more romantic with the seasoned professional. Compare, “I went to beauty school on a dare with my two girlfriends, they quit, I stayed,” with, “ I wanted to make people feel good about themselves.” Bueno.   

The feedback rendered a couple of repetitive themes, and these may surprise you.
Many went to beauty escuela because they didn’t know what to hacer, and, others because it was a short, apparently mas fåcil experience. A small percentage said, “I wanted to do something with beauty since I was niña, or mi familia was in the business and I knew I would follow their lead.” Note that this is not a scientific study, so your comentarios will serve to enlighten us all. (Send them in).

I wondered how the accidental salon professionals make it grande. So, I asked successful pros, “To what do you owe your beauty success?” Pasión, dedicación, ambición, and thirst for knowledge were runaway winners. But, aren’t these genetic or environmental características? Aren’t youpassionate, persistent, and ambitious or not? What if you are passionless with a brand new beauty licencia? Did you just blow 20 grand?

 So, I asked again, “Imagine yourself talking to your hijo or hija, who isn’t really sure about the career, que decir? And, focus on today; tell me, por favor, how would you advise your daughter in 2012?” A whole new world opened up and I am happy to share it with you.

One: Start With a Gran Salon Apparently it is better to be the cola of a león than the cabeza of a ratón,because the numero uno tip is: Your first job must be in a well-run, successful salon, because according to the pros, it very much determines the tipo of hairdresser you become. You will need to ajustar your attitude, since you will be low persona on the totem palo. You must reprioritize knowledge over dinero, at least initially. And, your payoff es esto: Aside from the techniques, clients, and systems you will acquire, there is consensus that you will emerge more confident of yourself.

 How to Make it Grande: Part One of Three  Reuben Carranza, CEO of P&G Salon Professional North America agrees with quality and craftsmanship, Reuben underscores taking pride in what you do and holding yourself to a high standard. He believes integrity, or treating people the way you want to be treated, is key. “Everyone deserves respect,” he adds.

How to Make it Grande: Part One of Three Peter Rosas, inventor of the bilingual iPhone/Android appSalon Client Data,whichmanages your salon business, suggests you never be afraid to assist in a salon because, he offers, “The benefit is working and learning with talented people that help you to push the envelope is key at the beginning. Never stop learning.“

 Two: Find a Great Mentor. All responses underscored education, and the way to keep continuously learning is to find a mentor. No solo a great hairdresser, but también someone who is willing to share what he/she knows. When you find this persona, sweep up their cabello, grab their comida, get café for their clients, and constantly walk the walk of someone who really wants to learn.

 How to Make it Grande: Part One of Three Paul Vega, owner of Salon 343 in Long Beach CA, who also educates, styles and creates the image for Color Charm North America, says, “Most important for me was never losing that hunger for education, finding mentors and following them and their work. Also, pushing myself past my fears.”

 Three:  Constantly Share What You Learn. In order to speed up your learning curve, teach and share todo you learn. Esto may sound outrageous to those who feel they know muy poco, but reviewing and repeating what you know is the mejor way to get it down. So, even if you have to go to your casa and teach your familia a new cut, do it.

How to Make it Grande: Part One of ThreeRobert Curiel, educator and ambassador for Clairol, and owner of a salon in San Diego, CA attributes his success to this same love of teaching, “I think my passion for the art of hair, and my enthusiasm to share my knowledge, in English and Spanish, has inspired me through this 45-year journey,” he states.

 Four: Honor Your Salon Culture. My Tia Blanca says people eventually start looking like their perro. By that rule, it would be fabulous if people in a salon began looking fashionably cool. If you were going to work in a banco, I would not advise you go Goth, and, likewise, don’t look like a banquero in a salon. But, we are not just addressing dress code. We are talking about attitude and being a good team player. Why? Because a salon is comprised of a grupo of people who share just about todo, with this comes peer pressure. One of the best success tips was to always be “on the good side of the salon’s peer pressure.” Otherwise, the gravy train may never make a pit stop at your station.Look and act the parte. Buena suerte.

Coming next: What is the one thing you would do different in your career?

Feel free to share your tips, ideas and comments.

Hasta pronto,


Carlos Valenzuela is president of Carlos Valenzuela Resources, LLC, is a consultant on Latino marketing, a licensed instructor, author, and motivational speaker. Contact Carlos at

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