Paula Cruz remembers the call well. It was several months ago and she could immediately hear the panic in the caller’s voice.
“This young lady called and told me she had tried to go from dark black hair to ash blonde and she tried to do it herself, using dye from a box,” she said. “Instead of getting the color she wanted, her hair turned a kind of orange. It had bands of color in it and it was not what she wanted.”
She was able to calm the young lady down and scheduled an appointment for later that day.
“A lot of times, people don't understand that making a change like that can be done, but there are definitely steps you need to take. And it could take five or six visits to get it the way they want it. We were able to get her to a color she was happy with and she was so relieved!”
According to Paula, who along with her husband Jose, owns Bella Lina Cruz Salon in the Winter Garden Village, this is the type of service that has garnered them outstanding online reviews. In fact, they averaged 4.8 out of 5 stars and they've been in business for 15 years.
“Seven out of 10 hair salons that open don't make it past a couple of years,” Jose said. “It's a lot like restaurants. Either they’re not in a good location where they get a lot of walk-in traffic, or they don't get the word out about their business, or they don't get enough word-of-mouth referrals. We've been blessed to have a great location and we put a lot of resources into marketing the business.”
Another significant factor in their success, the couple said, is the way they develop and retain their outstanding stylists.
“A lot of salons really just provide a space for stylists to work,” Paula said. “That's not how we do it. We provide a lot of continuing education for our employees, so everybody is up to date. And it's not like we make them pay for it. It's part of their job so they can grow and develop as professionals. Everyone who works here is up with the latest trends and techniques so they can provide the best possible service to our customers.”
One of the more recent additions to the Bella Lina Cruz Salon family is Tori Sosa, who joined the salon right after graduating from beauty school this summer. She considers it an amazing career opportunity with plenty of potential.
“When you're in school, you're learning the basics,” Tori said. “It's like learning your ABCs. Here, it's a lot more detailed. Every single person that sat in the chair when I was with Jessica (Maya, a manager with the salon) she would ask me what I would do in this situation. And we would talk it through. Even doing haircuts for men… cuts to color to everything, really, I would assist her and talk it through with her. It was a big learning experience. I learned more here than I have in school because this is the real world.”
This is why, according to Paula and Jose, they have so many customers who stay loyal to them for a long time. Even some customers who have moved still travel from as far as Lakeland and Tampa to get their hair done.
“You know, there are a lot of families who had kids who were two years old when we got to know them,” Paula said. “Now some of those kids are graduating high school and becoming adults.”