‘I was playing with hair back in high school and stuff, but I never thought about doing it as a business until I was 31.’
“I was born and raised in Miller Place. It was not easy growing up there. Everybody always made fun of me just for being different. I always was a trendsetter, so in my head I was like, be careful. That’s dangerous. You can’t be too weird, you know?
“I was playing with hair back in high school and stuff, but I never thought about doing it as a business until I was 31. I was working at Sally’s Beauty, and I really loved what I did.
“There was a salon next door, and they’d always come in and ask me for help for like, formulating things. And I’m like, what am I doing? I was making $9 an hour on the books and helping people with color. I was like, why don’t I do this for a living? I went back to school at 31, and everyone else was 18, but I did it.
“I moved back to Long Island and worked in a ton of salons, but I found it hard to fit in with the style of work and fantasy colors that I do.
“After the last salon I worked at, I felt like I was fired for being myself. I knew I wanted to have my own space. I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to either rent a chair or a suite,’ and I was really scared. I picked the smallest room I could at Salons by JC.
“And now we’re going on the second year, and it’s really like a little village of artists. I moved to a bigger room and have continued to grow. I had to learn how to market. I had to learn how to advertise. I had to learn the tricks of the trade, you know? Everyone here is passionate about their work.
“This experience has felt so different for me because I could finally be who I needed to be. I can do what I need and use what I need and feel comfortable and not have always feel like this pressure of having to make sales. I could finally be 100 percent me.”
My advice for everyone is: Ignore people and be yourself. Turn off the social media and just keep going. Don’t give up because there is a future.
“I love everybody that comes in here. I’m very grateful for every single person because they chose me out of the millions of hairstylists on the Island. I totally appreciate that. I take such pride in my work, and I stand behind it. I love what I do, and I can’t wait to wake up every morning and come here.
“My clients range from all different ages. They’re usually looking for something different and alternative, not mainstream. They’re looking for somebody that cares. They’re looking for somebody that understands them. I was bullied all throughout school just for being me, for being different, for being too small, for being too weird, you know? I understand that it can be hard and scary to be yourself.
“I feel really honored that I’m able to give them their dream hair and hopefully help them feel confident. Now that I’m on my own, I can finally do these things that I need to do, use the brands I need to use. I got a job with the color brand that I use. I applied, and they got back to me right away, so now I’m an educator for them. When I got that job, I felt like, is this really my life?
“The end goal is to open an alternative hair salon on Long Island. I want it to be specialized in fantasy colors and all that kind of stuff. I have a friend who does tattoos. I would love to make it a hair and tattoo salon.
“My advice for everyone is: Ignore people and be yourself. Turn off the social media and just keep going. Don’t give up, because there is a future. You have a future. This could be it. There were times in my life that I wanted to die, and it sucked. But here we are now. I made it. I, and I even made a child. Like, I got this this far life. It’s really crazy!”
Interviewed by Maggie Melito