Afro-Latina hairdresser Ona Diaz-Satin talks about the demystification of “Pelo Malo”


Over the past decade, the curly hair movement has dominated the beauty industry with the rise of various influencers and curly cuts being the latest trend. Yet despite this sudden urge for consumers to fully appreciate and embrace their natural hair, the beauty industry was and remains in some avenues informed by the Eurocentric male gaze. Specifically within the Latinx community, as many of us remember from our childhood trips to the local barber shop and slowly catching our burning curls in the heat of the secadora. There was an emotional and also physical misery underlying the routine, and despite that we were shining not to have any more “pelo malo”.

“I think back then, perception was everything… If you look good groomed, and your hair is styled and your makeup is slammed. It has changed a lot now because people are very smart about where they spend their money, ”said Ona Diaz-Satin, celebrity hairstylist, curl expert and owner of 5 Salon & Spa. HipLatina.

salon 5 spa ona diaz-satin
Photo: Courtesy of Ona Diaz-Satin

The Afro-Latina business owner also known as “The Hair Saint” talks about the truth behind building a valuable business that goes beyond a simple curly haircut. Establishing a haven for anyone with curls, Diaz-Satin explains how avoiding internal negativity and education is and continues to be essential to his business. “I think the most rewarding experience is when you have people crying in your chair and screaming at their beauty, finally feel accepted and I can guide them in that direction.”

It takes a village

Before Diaz-Satin became the renowned hairdresser she is today, the CEO of 5 Salon & Spa had a long line of Dominican hairdressers within her family that paved the way for the dos and don’ts. running a business. . “My mom was a salon owner, she owned 4 hair salons and I feel like she worked harder, not necessarily smarter. She (Ona’s mother) will say to me: ‘I never thought of doing like this’, and you know things change but I almost learned what not to do from my mother. ”This learning curve became a generational teaching moment that changed Diaz-Satin and her mother’s perspective on how running a business can constantly change. Diaz-Satin notes that hard work is at the heart of her business, but it’s even more the community of people who help her along her journey. “I have a support system that I know I need and I always say I don’t. am not self-taught. I know that God supports me one hundred and one percent, but He also puts people who need to support me in my life and I am eternally grateful because I know I need help.

Don’t believe this negative talk

With 30% of businesses run by Latinos closed during the pandemic, as well as 16% of businesses run by Latinos, it has become daunting for current and potential Latino entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams. While the odds on the outside may seem in your favor, it’s usually the negative inner rhetoric that keeps many of us from building our own empire. Diaz-Satin advises you to “don’t believe that negative voice because sometimes we’re raised in an environment that almost teaches you to be submissive. I’m not saying being domesticated is a bad thing, but I think sometimes we fall victim to it. Diaz-Satin is proud of the many hats she puts on that inadvertently support each other, hinting at how gender roles and machismo can sometimes hamper Latina’s understanding of our own possibilities. “I’m a woman, I’m a mom, I’m a house keeper, and then there’s I’m a boss, I’m a landlord, I’m Latina, and I can do it. Harnessing her trust and faith in God has truly guided the Dominican curling expert through many, if not all, of the difficulties that come with owning a business. This assurance hasn’t always been easy, she keeps in mind what to ask for. instead of waiting for a ‘no’ was one of the best lessons she’s learned. “Ask, it’s a no right now, not a no forever. Brush it off and keep moving.”

Education is the key

Now that Diaz-Satin has made a name for herself, she understands how education is essential to keeping customers happy. Especially within the curly hair community, Diaz-Satin realized that there are certain skill sets that allow a client to not only learn more about their hair, but other internal traumas as well. . The entrepreneur proclaims: “every day is like” no it’s not true, let me educate you, let me help you “and I think it’s very rewarding to educate people and see how in awe of themselves they are. “As she continues to provide her clients with the tools they need to enhance their inner and outer beauty, Ona is excited about the future of 5 Salon & Spa and of curly hair movement. She is currently working on a program, academy and second location in the Hamptons. With these ambitions and entrepreneurs like Diaz-Satin leading the way, it has become a hopeful and revolutionary for Latino entrepreneurs to dream beyond what society expects of us.


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