“It’s stressful, but it’s also special. It is the pride of owning something on your own.”
Luis Martinez had worked all throughout the business world, but one thing he noticed was that although they were making money, most people were not happy with their jobs. His realization that he wanted to be happy came in the form of a Bob Marley quote “Money is numbers and numbers never end. If it takes money to be happy your search for happiness will never end.”
So, Luis decided to open his own hair salon- RocksStar Kids Haircuts for Children. He knew nothing about hair, but he saw the happiness he was looking for in someone else: his mother. His mother worked as a hairdresser and travelled all throughout the city to work at different salons. She was overworked, but she was happy. He wanted to expand on that happiness and give her a place of her own.
THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS
Luis was inspired when he realized there were no other hair salons specializing in children in the area. Not many hair salons wanted to take kids because it is more difficult. Haircuts can sometimes be a traumatic experience for a child, parents can feel overwhelmed, and not everyone has the patience and tolerance to deal with potential meltdowns or tantrums. Luis wasn’t bothered by any of those things. He also took a special interest in children with disabilities because they were usually turned away the most.
Luis centered his hair salon around it being a great experience for kids. He has a play area where children can spend time to become comfortable and acclimated. He has themed chairs based on characters children enjoy. He even has monitors in front of all the chairs so children can be entertained while getting their hair cut. He also educates parents on how to best prepare their child for a haircut. Most importantly, he understands that every child is different and to treat their experiences as unique.
REBRANDING FROM COVID-19
Luis originally learned about Ascendus through a partner of ours, Prospera. Prospera is a technical assistance agency and they helped him open RocksStar Kids Haircuts for Children. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, his hair salon took a big hit. They had to shut down for almost an entire year. By November 2020 their lease was up. They had the option to close entirely, but they took a chance and decided to remain in business. They received a $5,000 loan from Ascendus. The loan allowed them to pay off bills, and ultimately to remain open. They decided to rebrand and expanded their hair salon to a family friendly salon that also included adults. Children and parents could get their hair cut at the same time, and everyone could leave happy.
Owning his own business has given Luis an entirely different perspective. He came from a career that was structured and a paycheck that was guaranteed. His parents were small business owners and immigrants from Colombia. He gained inspiration from their struggles of coming to this country and doing so well for themselves. He had to learn to be adaptable, creative, and how to take ownership over everything. “You literally have to get down and dirty to make it work because no one else will. Never in my life had I fixed a toilet before, and never in my life did I think I would. It’s more work than just pulling up your sleeves. It’s stressful, but it’s also special. It is the pride of owning something on your own.”
FINDING HIS HAPPY PLACE
Luis says the most important thing to him is that his family is happy, and the best thing about owning his own business is that there is a freedom and excitement to create things that make other people happy. Seeing kids and their parents happy, it makes a difference. Cutting hair is more than just maintenance. “People leave with a whole new perspective. They feel good, they become confident. It changes them.”