I was born and raised in the Richmond area. I grew up in a very artistic family. My Father plays music and draws; my Mother is one of the best interior decorators I know; I have a sister who loves crafts, and my twin brother, C.P., displays his talents through amazing pictures. I decided to choose hair as my artistic medium; though it hasn’t always been like that.
In 2000, I graduated from Thomas Dale High School in Chester, VA, and then pursued an education at Radford University. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college.
After earning my degree, I began managing a local steakhouse. I love the restaurant industry; I spent two years with the steakhouse, until I took a higher paid job managing a new Olive Garden in the Richmond area. I was in charge of the restaurant overall sales, and the training of over 100 employees.
I spent the next five years maturing, making a lot of money, and establishing great, lasting friendships. At the same time, however, the restaurant industry can be a beast! There were times when I was working 65-70 hours without a day off. I would regularly go see my hairstylist, Amber, to get my hair cut and de-stress! I admired how creative she was, and I knew she loved what she did. She made me miss my artistic side, so out of the blue; I started looking at beauty schools. I remembered hearing a commercial on the radio about Empire Beauty School. I called and made an appointment with an academic advisor, and before I knew it, I was enrolled! I hadn’t even had the opportunity to tell my employer I wanted to go back to school- It all happened so fast! I turned in my notice, and spent the next month saying goodbye to my Restaurant Family.
About a month before I started at Empire, my house caught fire. My partner, Remy, my twin and I lost almost everything. It was a very hard time to have just changed career paths, and financially I was terrified. In this “What Now?!?” moment, my family insisted I continue on my path.
Once I started school, I was very concerned that I wouldn’t “have what it takes”. I have never had the experience doing hair before, so there was a lot of hesitation. In my Pre-Salon days at Empire, I found myself getting frustrated at the practical portions of our class work. Through my educators’ guidance, and support from my fellow classmates, I was able to rise above the angst. The skills I was learning were becoming more and more routine.
In May, I attended Empire’s Future Professional Expo. I had saved up all year in order to be able to attend. The Expo was so exciting! I was able to meet some of the beauty’s industry’s best. Taking their seminars and hearing their stories was very inspirational.
Nick Arrojo had a wonderful presentation at the Expo. From him, I learned that you will be successful no matter how skilled you are. It’s all about your present yourself. As long as you work hard, stay positive and professional, you can be just as successful as Arrojo.
I was able to meet Nick after his presentation. I stood tall, gave him a firm handshake, and then gave him my card. He asked me where I was going to work after I graduated. I told him where ever this industry will take me. He handed me his card, and told me to email him.
I was completely inspired, energized to get back to school! A few months after the Expo, I was able to get an interview with Nick at his salon, Arrojo Studio, in New York City. The experience of going to NY was incredible! I am currently still thinking about a move to the “Big Apple”, however, a large part of me wants to stay here in Richmond. I have just recently been offered a position with an upscale salon. I will be starting my new job at Mango Salon in the fall.
I am so glad I chose to come to Empire. In just one year, I have completely changed my life! I embrace my future with the new trade I have learned, and I look forward to what comes next.