By Klaus Hansen on September 10, 2021
For the past four and a half years, Maria Santana and her Inland Empire Hair Co. team have been providing color correction, vivid colors, and hair extensions in the Riverside, California area.
“What makes us different is our focus on business and delivery on customer service. I invest maximum effort in training my team to master their craft so that we can assure the clients are receiving quality results. We attract a variety of age groups, and we have the option to hand-select a stylist to best match each client’s need.”
Maria Santana is the owner of Inland Empire Hair Co. which has an expert team of 16 stylists. Maria moved to Riverside with her family when she was three years old. What she loves about Riverside is how much it’s been evolving, and it’s really expanded with more cultural programs and art exhibitions.
Maria says, “I was a struggling young woman in the Riverside Community, and I really wanted to give back to where I came from. So I’m rooted here. I went through all the local schools in Riverside, and my cosmetology program was also in Riverside. It was really important to me that I grew my business here to give back to my community so that other women could potentially have success in the community.”
Maria is what we like to call a Local Biz Hero, a self-made entrepreneur who brings true value to her community. High standards of professionalism and the strong work ethics of small business owners like Maria are the infrastructures of the Riverside economy.
Maria makes the effort to spend her money in the local business ecosystem and community donations. She supports local charities and does volunteer work. She has also kept a similar element in the entire approach of running her business as she is keen on uplifting other women, encouraging the community as well as supporting all other small businesses.
Maria is an outdoor person. She loves rescuing dogs, and she has five rescue dogs at home between her and her family members. She also loves to go hiking and camping with her husband to see the different waterfalls of Southern California.
We sat down with Maria for a quick interview –
Q: Why do you do what you do?
A: “We’re not just a salon, we’re actually a learning facility as well. I wanted to focus on programs that help build the bridge between a stylist coming out of cosmetology school and going to work behind the chair. Cosmetology schools mainly focus on training about health regulations and passing the state board test, but they don’t focus on the business aspect of running a booth, marketing yourself behind the chair, learning the skill of listening to people, and mastering your craft. Hence, I hire new stylists in my salon, train them to do skilled work, teach them how to operate a business, and uplift them along their journey in mastering their craft.”
Q: How did you get into this profession?
A: “I was a young single mother. I had my first child at 16 and my second child at 21. My mother was the one who pushed me to get a career to support my children, and that’s what drove me to my passion. I just took it and poured my heart into it. And that’s really been my driving motivator for helping other women as well to build careers for themselves.”
Q: What is the most significant event that you have experienced in your personal or business life?
A: “My most important life event that stands out in my memory is receiving my cosmetology license. I felt that was a pivotal point in my life because I achieved something on my own, and I could bring something home, for my family. And I think another pivotal point was, I had been competing in color contests in my industry, and I was placed first during one of the years, and that pushed my career into an editorial direction where I was published in several beauty magazines that are outstanding in our community in the beauty industry, and that gave me the recognition and confidence to step up and be a leader. I’m an artist and I embrace my talent as I do have something to share with my beauty community.”
Q: What’s the most unusual situation that ever happened to you on the job?
A: “Sometimes I do have indirect interactions with difficult people. There have been times where I’ve had to let somebody know that I didn’t feel like I was the right stylist for them and decline service to them and this could trigger somebody to get annoyed, leading to uncomfortable situations. But I’ve learned in my career that I’m not going to sacrifice my mental health and well-being to serve somebody else when I’m giving them a gift that I’ve cultivated in my hands. We work really hard behind our chairs so there are going to be unpleasant situations where we need to set a boundary and say no.”
Q: Would you like to give a special mention to anyone from your staff?
A: “I would like to mention Alyssa Cisneros. She’s a stylist at the salon. She actually went through the program of assisting me out of cosmetology school. Then she was slowly promoted into a part-time position. Now she’s moved into a full-time position, and also retailing for herself in her booth rental spot. So she worked the program that we offer, and is my first proven success from coming through the program.”
For those of you who are looking for a professional Hair Expert for any type of work, Maria Santana and her Inland Empire Hair Co. team should be your first choice. Maria offers a few free services and discounts to women who have cancer. She also takes private appointments to accommodate any privacy that’s needed.
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