We had the good fortune of connecting with Paola Rodriguez and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Paola, what role has risk played in your life or career?

Never in my wildest dreams, would I have imagined having my own business. However, I had to step out of my comfort zone and take a few risks in order to make this possible.

In 2011, I graduated from Paul Mitchell The School Sherman Oaks. But I wouldn’t get my cosmetology license until 2019. Unfortunately, I had put my dream job aside for a few years, although still dyeing and cutting family’s hair throughout that time.

Shortly after graduating, I started working at The Home Depot. But I was always thinking in the back of my mind “I’ll get my license soon, this job is temporary”. Six years later, and I was still working there. Thankfully, a good thing came from working there. I meet my husband, and had our beautiful son in 2018.

Having my son really motivated me to finally start studying again for my cosmetology license exam. It’s 2019, and I’m finally a licensed Cosmetologist. Eight long years after graduating from Paul Mitchell.

The very next day I started applying at salons in hope that someone would hire me as an assistant. Another week past and I had an interview at a salon in Northridge, California. I was offered the job, assisting one stylist. All these thoughts started going through my head. “I have a family now, I have a steady paycheck coming in every two weeks. If I take this job, the pay would be less and the hours wouldn’t be secure. I’m starting from the bottom. Is this a risk I should take?” With the encouragement and support of my husband , I took the risk.

I kept moving forward. It would be tough at times, especially seeing other assistants at the salon that were, at most, 21. But here I am, a 29 year old assistant. I’ve always been hard on myself, saying “I could of been doing hair for 8 years now if i had gotten my license right away.”

I was assisting at the salon for a few months when a friend (fellow hairstylist, Mel) was telling me to come work with her at a salon in Downtown LA. I felt like I was going to start from the bottom again, but I did it anyways. It was one of the best decisions I had ever made.

The owner of the salon (Maeven) became my mentor. I would assist her, but also quickly started taking clients of my own. She gave me that push and confidence that I needed. Fast forward two years later, and I was making another important decision. Either to stay in downtown or move closer to home (The Valley)?

The commute was getting a little hard, an hour getting to work and an hour going back home. Time I could be spending with my family. So I started looking at studios. Not that I really had a plan, nor made a decision if I was really going to leave the salon. But to be my own boss and be closer to home? It definitely had my attention.

And just like that, I fell in love with a studio in Glendale, inside of the Phenix Salon. Perfect location that was close enough to home and to Downtown (since my clientele was mostly from there). But I was hesitant in signing the lease/paper work. I remember my mom telling me “what are you waiting for?”. I overthink about everything. “Maybe I’m not ready, what if I fail,? What if none of my clients follow me.?” I’m not a person that likes getting out of their comfort zone. But if I didn’t, I would of still been at a job daydreaming about the career that I wish I had. Hair by Pie was officially opened in August of 2022.

I’m proud of what I have achieved in this short period of time. I have an amazing career where I can do what I love and be creative. A career where I can schedule around my family with ease. I’ve been fortune enough to take these risks with the love and support of my family, friends and clients.

Everyone’s “risks” are different. No matter how big or small, look back at everything you’ve achieved and be proud of yourself. It can be taking that first Balayage or mens cut, taking that risk that it might not come out perfect. Take that chance and whatever the outcome is be proud of yourself and keep moving forward.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve been a licensed Hairstylist for a little over 3yrs now. It took me a few years to Get where I am today. I believe that everything happens for a reason. Even though I graduated from cosmetology school at 21, it wasn’t my time to fully pursue it. I can happily say that I am grateful for all the detours and bumps in the road that I had to go through to be where I am today.
Bringing someone’s vision to life and seeing those smiles are what I love about my job. I love color, whether it’s a natural
Balayage, Vivid colors or a full color correction. I enjoy it all. Hair cutting was my passion in cosmetology school and still is.
I continue to take classes to perfect my color and cutting skills. This career is constantly changing and as a stylist you have to change and adapt with it. If I can take at least one new method or technique from a class, it’s a win for me. At the moment professionally, I still have alot to learn, but I’m excited to further my skills and career. I’m comfortable enough to challenge myself.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
At the end of the day the person that has been by my side encouraging me, pushing me, supporting me through out this journey, it my husband (Emmanuel). From being my guinea pig when it came to practicing my mens haircuts (they were pretty bad but he never cared, as long as i kept practicing) To helping me design my studio and build anything I needed for it. With his love and support I was able to believe in myself. This shoutout/story is dedicated to my love.


Instagram: @Hair_by_pie

Other: styleseat.com/hairbypie

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