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While I was scrolling through Facebook one day, I noticed Kaysha, one of my friends, posted about opening her own business. It was a hair salon to be exact, located in Cabo Rojo, called Earl Salon by Kaysha. We hadn’t talked since graduating high school, but we still liked each other’s posts and I thought that it would be a good idea to get my hair done by her, and catch up in the process. As a young 26-year-old woman, she had already opened her own business and was doing quite well for herself. Before booking an appointment with her, I had to see her for a consultation. At first, I found it surprising since I’ve never had to do a consultation when going to a new hairstylist before. Throughout the consultation, she explained how she does things and we talked about my hair and what I wanted to do with it. 

On the day of the appointment, I sat down and she got to work. Before interviewing her, we caught up on life, talking about where we are now, and about some of our classmates from high school that both of us keep in touch with. 

Once she put the foils in my hair, she left to make me a coffee and bring me some snacks (free of charge), which was quite a shock for me. Usually, by the time I leave a hair salon, I’m so famished  that getting snacks and a delicious coffee was just wonderful. I thought she definitely knows how to treat a client. After finishing my coffee, I started interviewing her. 

Because she feels more comfortable speaking to me in Spanish, all the answers have been translated. 

Pierucci: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Kaysha: Well, my name is Kaysha Nicole Acosta. I’m 26 years old. Since I was a little girl I always wanted to be a hairstylist; I never imagined myself as anything else. When I graduated high school, I went to Emma’s Beauty Academy in Mayagüez. I studied there for four years, (learning) skills such as basic cosmetology, professional makeup and advanced styling. After those four years, I got my license and worked at five different salons; two (were located) in Mayagüez, and three in Cabo Rojo. I’ve spent seven years working to finally be able to open my own salon. My dream was to someday have my own business and never work for anyone else. I actually want to employ more people in my same field and provide them the same, if not more, opportunities than the ones that were given to me while I was working under others’ management.

P: How long have you had your salon?

K: I opened it on March 25, 2021, so it’s been a bit over a year now. 

P: What are your favorite hair products that you like to use with your clients?

K: Joico! It comes from the company Esteban Distributors. It’s a company located in San Juan, but I also work with other products such as Alfaparf and Versum. These are the top three I’ve used in all my years as a stylist. These are very professional brands.

P: What is your favorite hairstyle to do?

K: I really like making beach waves. It’s a very natural-looking style that you can use for any occasion; from a wedding to a first date. It’s also a pretty easy style to do and it’s what a lot of clients tend to ask for. 

P: How do you keep up-to-date with all the new hair trends, cuts, colors and styles?

K: I always like to watch every type of video I can find on such subjects and just keep an eye for trending styles. I also attend seminars; though not as much as I would like to, since I’m so busy. It’s not like new things are always coming out, but that old styles are coming back. You just have to keep your eyes open. 

P: What would you recommend a client do if they have very frizzy and damaged hair?

K: Firstly, hydrate your hair regularly. Damaged hair needs to be moisturized because it can break, so you need good oils to do so. Then, we’ll work with an anti-frizz treatment, if that’s what the client wants, such as the Brazilian blowout or keratin. Here in my salon, the anti-frizz treatments that we use are the Mevys Keratin treatment and the Brazilian Blowout. They work wonders.

P: Throughout all of your time working as a stylist, do you think you can tell us of a time when a client expressed their displeasure with the work you did on their hair?

K: Yes! It was one of the biggest headaches I’ve experienced. It was about two years ago when I was working at a salon in Mayagüez. The style was beautiful, obviously, but it was on this client that came in and wasn’t really sure about what she wanted. She had very yellow blonde hair, but wanted to have it dyed copper. However, if she switched to copper, she wouldn’t be able to go back to her natural color for a long time, so she changed her mind and thought ash blonde was better. She shows me a photo and I tell her that I can do something similar, but that she won’t look exactly the same. I don’t like to make promises. Her hair would look darker than the one in the photo, but she agreed to proceed anyway. Then, on the day of the appointment, I did a color change and highlights. When it was all done, her hair looked beautiful, but as soon as she looked in the mirror she gasped, “Ugh it’s so dark!” It’s exactly what I told her she’d look like, but she argued, “If it was going to turn out like this, I would have stayed the same! Oh, what will my husband say when he sees me?! I was going to a wedding this weekend and now I can’t go!” I felt horrible that day and the hairstyle was beautiful. Then, she said that my service was wonderful, but that she couldn’t get used to the color. She still paid, though. I gave her options on how to change it and we made another appointment; but on the day of the appointment, she canceled. I was thinking of quitting. The next day I quit and the day after that, I started at a new salon that had sent me an offer. 

P: What do you think is the most important part of being a stylist?

K: You have to provide a great service and have confidence in yourself. You know that you’re capable and that your biggest rival is no one other than yourself.

P: Who inspired you to be a stylist?

K: No one, really. Since I was little, it was always just hairstyling. With that in mind, my mother always encouraged me and believed in me. She always bought me makeup and let me take classes on nails when I was thirteen. I didn’t like it, but I know how to do them. I’m actually the first to become a stylist in my family. I have a cousin and she got her license after me.  

P: Do you have any long-term goals for your salon?

K: Well, I’m actually hiring right now. I’m looking for stylists and nail technicians. I have a closed room that can be used for microblading. I would really like, you know, to have this place full. Get more people to talk about my salon; and, in doing so, it will be able to grow and hopefully expand and open new salons. Of course, something like that takes years to accomplish. I’d also like to get my own place; since my current place requires I pay a monthly rent.

P: Throughout your career as a hairstylist, what do you think was more important, education or experience?

K: I’d have to go with experience. Education is important, but it only takes you so far. Some things you’ll inevitably learn through experience. For example, balayages are something I learned on my own. They don’t necessarily teach that at the academy. I learned to do that all on my own, by watching videos and my co-workers’ work. Nowadays, that’s the hairstyle I do the most. 

P: How do you determine your prices?

K: It depends on the length and thickness of the client’s hair. I also check the prices of other salons, and I try to charge more or less the same amount. It also depends on how much product I have to use on a client. Also, if the pricing of the products goes up, I have to raise the prices a bit. 

P: Can you tell us a bit about your experience working at other salons?

K: I didn’t work for long in a lot of them, from six months to two years. It’s pretty hard at first too, considering I started making $20 to $30 a week. The hardest experience was in one where I worked for a year. Everything was timed and we could hardly even eat. They took advantage of us. We would get a warning even if we were 5 minutes late. There weren’t any days off. We worked on holidays. They had me working from 9am and the closing time was just for show. It was supposed to close at 7pm, but, if someone came in, we had to tend to them because we couldn’t say no. The owner would yell at us in front of our clients and make us feel bad. I only went on vacation once. I let them know five months ahead and they told me I should have let them know a year in advance. They cared more for the money than they did their own staff. One day, I was doing nails and the owner came to me telling me I had two more, but it was 2pm and I hadn’t eaten yet. He told me I couldn’t because I had clients. I have hypoglycemia, so I need to eat regularly, or I may pass out. He was angry. I left and came back with my food, and after a single bite, he told me to go back to work because I had clients. I was tired of only being able to eat when he authorized me, rather than eating when I was hungry. That day, I decided it was time for me to quit and I did. I lost 10 pounds working there.

P: Anything you’d like to say to other hairstylists out there that are going through a hard time?

K: Take things slow. One step at a time. Remember that your biggest rival is yourself. 

As a closing statement, Kaysha wanted to add that she wouldn’t have gotten as far as she had if it wasn’t for her family’s love and support. If you’re interested in changing your hairstyle and want a consultation or if you’re interested in applying for a job, go and check her Facebook page. You can text her during weekdays and she typically replies within an hour or two.

Lastly, I thank Kaysha for her timeless friendship and wish her all the best with her salon.

Pierucci Aponte is a graduate student at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. She is doing her M.A on English Linguistics and has a minor in Communications. When not studying, Pierucci either plays video games or watches movies on Netflix. Although her passion is writing, she hopes to become an educator one day.
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