Laura’s story starts with her parents’ story. Her dad was first-generation American; his mother immigrated from Mexico and he worked with his family as a migrant worker as a child. Laura’s mom came from a farm community, too: she didn’t complete middle school because kids were pulled out to help provide for their families.
“My parents were the first to venture outside of their small town,” Laura says. “Dad was first to get a college degree, then he made Mom find a profession so she could take care of herself if anything happened to him. Mom was pregnant with me when she went to beauty school – so I actually got to go twice!”
Laura’s first language was Spanish. When she started elementary school, “They forced my parents to stop talking to us in Spanish, so we lost our fluency. Mom learned to read and write when we learned as kids,” Laura says.
“My mom’s family have always been entrepreneurs. My grandparents took movies to the field workers, and then got their own movie theater. Mom owned her own salon – one of the first Paul Mitchell Focus Salons!”
Laura earned a business degree and put it into practice as her mom’s salon manager. “Finding good hairdressers was frustrating,” she says. “I got tired of them calling in sick so I went to school myself. I figured, if they call in sick, I can do their clients and we can still make money. That’s when I started dreaming of opening a cosmetology school. Students were graduating but didn’t learn how to do hair; school just taught us to pass the state boards.”
Laura became a Paul Mitchell educator and decided to open a school. She signed a lease and planned to run it like a Focus Salon, teaching students the technical and business sides of the industry. When she learned that Paul Mitchell was going into the school business, she signed on and opened her school as one of the first Paul Mitchell Partner Schools. “It was so refreshing to find someone with the same vision,” she says.
Was It Worth It?
Laura’s parents are her partners and co-owners of the school, and one of her three sons is the director of the barbering program. Her sister, brother, sister-in-law, and niece are also leaders in the school. “And everyone else is like family to us!”
“I’ve been able to provide a good lifestyle for my three boys. For family, it’s been the best reward.”
Laura’s Words of Wisdom
“The Paul Mitchell culture has made a big impact in our lives. We were always a close family but this brings us in alignment at work and at home. We love seeing what our graduates accomplish and knowing we’ve made an impact in their lives. At first, I thought I was just going to teach them how to be successful stylists, but I quickly realized it was a lot more than that: life skills, helping them become better people and enjoy life.”