Tomas Suastegui is not just a WBI success story, but also his own success story. After receiving his training at WBI, Tomas faced a series of challenges that would cause a lesser stylist to pack up their shears and run for a fixed income job. Without his determination, Tomas’ beautiful salon in San Fernando would not be a reality. Thanks to his training and focus, his Suastegui Studio is doing great. He has a loyal client base and his schedule is always booked for several weeks in advance. His story is one of perseverance and dedication, and we are proud to have him as one of the graduates on our Wall of Fame.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
My story is interesting because I didn’t start out wanting to be a hair stylist. I was between colleges and trying to figure out what I really wanted to do. My dad was a barber, so I knew a little bit about the business. I thought I would go to beauty school as an interim solution, and to my surprise I found out that I loved it. This was not a regular 9 to 5 job, and it was creative. I investigated several schools and decided on WBI.
The instructors at WBI were great. They were always very friendly and approachable; if you had a question about anything (financial aid, technique, etc.) they were always happy to answer. They also had my back when I went out into the job arena.
Right before I finished school I worked at a show for an Indonesian hair color company Macarico. After the show, Christina Diaz (school president) asked me how much they paid me. I told her that they did not pay me. She stood up and said, “Oh no, nobody is going to exploit my students.” She made a call and sure enough, I got paid. That experience made me feel great. It was nice to have someone that cared. Christina is a great businesswoman and role model. I knew that I wanted to be independent, like her.
I decided that I wanted to work in salons to get experience before opening my own place. As soon as I graduated, I got my license. I was friends with a much older salon owner, and I worked there for three months before I went to Europe for inspiration.
When I came back I worked for another salon for two months before I was offered a job managing a new salon. I managed this salon for two months, while also working as a stylist. I was doing so well, that the owner wanted to lower my salary. I guess they thought I should do two jobs for the price of one. That’s when I decided to run my own salon.
I started with a business partner in a hole-in-the-wall location. I paid $25,000 for a dump that needed remodeling. When I opened that salon with my first partner, it lasted 8 months. When we decided to part ways, an esthetician bought out his stake. Once we realized that she and I had a different vision, I left the salon to her and moved on.
That is when I began renting a booth at what eventually would become my salon. I started with a mirror and a chair. I had a decent-sized returning client base and I was doing well when the owner decided he needed to close the salon. He wanted to sell, but I had learned from my past mistakes. He accepted my offer to take over his lease to avoid being penalized. I started this salon with an empty place, five mirrors and a couple of old chairs. Little by little, I would add on – a new chair here, a new plant there. I learned from Christina Diaz; I saw how hard she worked for her school and the same work ethic allowed me to build the salon of my dreams.