Story and images originally published in Taos News
When Diego Sagredo opened his first hair salon in April 2010, he didn’t even know one person in Taos.
“I had just graduated from Vogue College of Cosmetology in Santa Fe and then moved to Taos in a whim,” said the Monterrey, Mexico, native. “I had never owned a hair salon and didn’t have friends here, but I was sure that I would make it.”
He worked for Great Clips briefly, but soon decided to venture on his own. He got a business license and launched Aztec Hair Salon, named after his Mesoamerican ancestors.
“I opened a small parlor in the Plaza and, of course, no one came,” he said. “I hadn’t advertised or told anybody. I was getting nervous, so I went outside, stopped a lady who was passing by and offered her a free haircut.”
Though surprised by the impromptu proposal, and after a brief hesitation, she agreed to it.
“She trusted me with her hair,” Sagredo said, “and I did my best to make her look fabulous!”
That very day, around seven p.m., when Sagredo was going to close the salon, three women came in. There were all friends of his first client, who had sent them there.
“I stayed busy until late at night,” he said. “And that was my start in Taos.”
Happy hair tips
Today Sagredo doesn’t need to offer free haircuts anymore. His new salon, located next to Guadalajara Grill (the south side location) is always full.
“People can call and make an appointment, but walk-ins are welcome too,” he said. “They may have to wait un poquito, a little bit, but I will take care of them.”
He has built his clientele one customer at a time.
“For me, word of mouth has worked better than anything else,” he said. “A satisfied client is a loyal client and the best recommendation a hairdresser can have.”
He does colors, highlights, and haircuts for men, women and children, and additional services like eyebrow waxing.
“I listen to my customers,” he said. “I can offer them advice but I recognize that, in the end, they are the experts on their own hair, the ones who know how it behaves.”
Sagredo gives his clients what he calls “happy hair tips” and “brush-and-go suggestions.”
“I teach them to be practical,” he said. “A certain style may look gorgeous in a magazine, but if you need to spend half an hour on it every morning, it will be difficult to maintain. Sometimes I suggest a similar cut, but less fussy.”
He also respects his clients’ budgets.
“I don’t sell products, but tell people how to use whatever they have at home,” he said.
As someone engaged in the business of beauty, Sagredo keeps current with hair trends and styles.
“When a style is in vogue, I adapt it so it compliments people’s natural looks,” he said. “But a good hairstyle should reflect your personality. It should suit you, not the other way around.”
Ultimately, he wants his customers to feel good about themselves when they leave his salon.
“Quiero que mis clientes hagan el dia,” he said. “I want my clients to have a great day. I want them to feel and look their best. Confidence plays a big role in people’s mood.”
Satisfied clients speak
Marilyn Christian has been coming to Aztec Hair Salon for over two years.
“Diego keeps improving his parlor and he has a great personality,” she said. “Many friends ask me where I get my haircut and I am delighted to refer them to him.”
Luis Garcia gets a haircut with Sagredo at least once a month.
“He is the best one in Taos,” Garcia said. “He does my hair short and spiky, the perfect cut.”
Joey Brown describes Sagredo as “cool and fun.”
“We both love coming here,” said his mother, Juliet Brown. “Diego makes my son look good and he is very entertaining.”
A recent graduate
This summer, Sagredo graduated from the Adult Learning Center. He received his GED diploma and plans to continue studying while working on his business.
“All the teachers and staff were very helpful,” he said. “I improved my English skills and made many new friends at the Center. I recommend it to anybody who wants to learn in an encouraging environment.”
Today, Sagredo reflects on the leap of faith that led him to open a business in a place where he knew no one.
“I’m so happy that I trusted my instincts,” he said. “Taos has totally changed my life. It has given me not only a way to make a good living, but also an education and a number of clients who have become my friends. I’m very grateful to the city and the people, la ciudad y la gente. Muchas gracias a todos.”
Aztec Hair Salon is located at 1384 Paseo del Pueblo Sur (next to Guadalajara Grill)
Phone: 575 613 0129