Discovering Magnificence: 4 Asian American Tales

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Mona Baltazar

Founder and Proprietor, The Mona Cut

“After we have been 10 years previous, my sister and I moved from the Philippines to San Jose. Coming from a rustic the place all of my neighbors appeared like me, the US was a tradition shock. There have been ladies in my grade who towered over me and appeared very totally different. My sister and I have been a group, and we’d come dwelling from faculty day by day and talk about issues we picked up from our classmates so we might mix in as shortly as doable.

My household was not well-off within the US, and faculty was by no means a dialog. On profession day in highschool I discovered a cosmetology pamphlet with a person with lengthy, luscious hair on the entrance. For those who ask anybody, being Filipino is all about having lengthy hair, and I needed to do what he was doing. Whereas I used to be working in a salon in California I received a gross sales contest to fly to New York for a four-day Redken class. It was my second time on an airplane, and I fell in love with the town. I informed my boss I used to be placing in my one yr discover and once I was prepared he purchased me a one-way ticket. Now I’ve been right here for 16 years.

In 2015 a girl named Edgy got here to see me for a haircut. It was the start of an enormous motion in the direction of pure, curly hair in Black and combined communities, however there weren’t many curly-hair cutters in New York. Plenty of stylists would say, ‘Oh, you’ve gotten an excessive amount of hair, we’re going to must straighten it,’ or huff and puff like curly hair was such a chore. Curly hair was new to me however it didn’t cease me—I’m a hairdresser, and my job is that can assist you perceive your hair and be ok with it. Edgy posted a photograph of her haircut on Instagram and tagged me, and it was a sequence response from there. Textured hair may be very delicate and has so many personalities, which is the great thing about it. I desire a consumer to really feel actually snug with their very own texture, and I’m right here to carry their hand on that journey. A consumer of mine gave me the identify ‘The Mona Lower,’ and in March 2018 I formally opened as The Mona Lower independently.

Magnificence is so limitless proper now, and it’s superb that everybody has the chance to decide on how they need to look, however at this second I’m actively attempting to not stand out. My mother may be very open-minded and daring, and raised my sisters and I to by no means really feel like we needed to look a sure approach. She simply turned 66 the opposite day, and I don’t assume I’ve ever seen her look extra fabulous—her hair is silver and he or she wears it actually brief. A number of years in the past I used to be operating errands on my lunch break, and a few man got here up behind me and stated beneath his breath, ‘actual American, so American.’ I bear in mind questioning if that meant I’m not imagined to have tattoos as a result of I’m Asian, or if as a result of I’ve tattoos I’m attempting to suit an American visible. The opposite day I frightened about leaving my home in a vibrant yellow Nike jacket, and I simply purchased sun shades to attempt to disguise that I’m Asian. However one thing thrilling about being Filipino right here in New York is that younger entrepreneurs are highlighting road meals from the Philippines increasingly more. Project Barkada highlights loads of Filipino small companies, which is how I discovered Kabisera and FromKora donuts, which grew to become large this yr like how Cronuts have been large. I miss dwelling, and meals is dwelling.”

—as informed to ITG