It all started in Ecuador, sixteen years ago. A handsome man came to get his hair cut at the salon that I was managing. He didn’t speak Spanish and I didn’t speak English, so we communicated just a little and used lots of body language. I remember he gave me a generous tip though, and then the next day he came back and asked me for a date. To be honest I told him ‘no’, but my boss insisted he was good for me, so I changed my mind. Now Steve and I are married and have a son who is fifteen.
Kentish Town is where our family call home. We felt there’d be more opportunity in London for us and our son than in Ecuador, so came to stay with Steve’s cousin who lived on Falkland Road. We then found a flat of our own locally and have been here ever since. We are blessed to have met so many nice, interesting and friendly people in this area. It’s a special place to live, and also now to work, too.
I saw this little empty room. It was perfect. I’d spent seven years working for a Colombian boss, learning English and getting my hairdressing certificates. I thought the time was right to move to an English-run salon, and started at one in West Hampstead, but after a week I knew it wasn’t for me. I was at Energie Fitness [downstairs in the Maple Building] and asked them about this room. We met the owner the very next day who showed us around, so it all moved very fast, and suddenly I was opening my own salon.
In a cosy, small space, people really open up. My clients seem to feel very comfortable and relaxed here. They are very confident to talk to me about everything. It’s a bit like doing therapy. People come up after the gym or from the apartments and offices nearby, get their hair done, have a relaxing head massage and open up about all their stresses and troubles. I put on the Latin music as well, and they feel for a moment like they are in a different country.
I like to offer things you can’t get on the ‘High Street’. It’s always my personal service here. It’s amazing how many people have been to Ecuador and end up practicing their Spanish with me. We use the colours of the national flag in our logo – the sea and the sun, also like my name. And I always say my blow dry comes with a guarantee – if it’s not the best one you’ve ever had you can get a full refund, but nobody has complained yet.
Main image: Marisol and her family