Think of Aura Salon as a safe haven for your hair. Leticia Villagran’s boutique has a relaxed, romantic feel thanks to crystal chandeliers, brick floors, antique settees, vases of French tulips, and mini-mullioned windows all couched in a charmingly historic building on Chappaqua’s King Street. And since hair is never just hair for women—it can be political, personal, exhausting and restorative—hers is the kind of salon where you never leave half-happy.
Thanks to a small business loan from Community Capital New York, Leticia was able to buy into the business she helped to build, now employing 15 stylists and cosmetologists. Earning a degree in her native Guatemala, and studying hair and beauty since age 14, her specialty is working with natural products: Aura Salon is certified with Aveda and Organic Salon Systems. So not only is the cut, color, hair extensions, and mani pedi experience perfect, it’s also healthy.
How did you get into hair care?
As a girl growing up in Guatemala I was obsessed with beauty and hair, and there the study of cosmetology and hair care is all encompassing. It’s a very tough curriculum and you learn every aspect. When I came here I worked in salons for years, and became a teacher for Full Image Academy.
How did you get your business off the ground?
I worked here cutting and styling hair, and when the owner wanted to retire, I wanted to buy the business. It was a dream to run my own business.
How did your business evolve?
Initially I had a partner. She created the downstairs nail, brow and cosmetology salon to expand the options for customers. Then, before it really was launched, she left, leaving me to run it. It’s been tough to juggle and hire and run all three floors of the salon, but incredibly worthwhile to own my own business. I love being a role model for my daughter.
What did you wish you knew?
About non-compete employee contracts. I was incredibly generous to a new employee, giving her some of my best clients to help build her portfolio of customers. Then she left, which is not uncommon for stylists to do, but went to the salon down the street, taking clients with her. Community Capital has helped me revise my business plan and provided a mentor to help with non-compete contracts.
Continuing to train new employees in organic and natural hair coloring techniques. Promoting and marketing our full salon services to the community.
Aura Salon, 191 King Street, Chappaqua, NY 10514, 914.238.0091, http://auraboutiquesalon.com